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Bellator 245 recap and highlights: Cat Zingano shines in Bellator debut

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MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interviews from another big show!

Bellator 245
Davis vs Machida 2
Bellator MMA

Bellator 245 “Davis vs. Machida 2” took place Friday, September 21, 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main event saw two former Light Heavyweight champions looking to settle an old score between them as “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (21-5, 1 NC) faced down “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (26-9). One of them could have a fight with champion Vadim Nemkov or recent signee Corey Anderson in their future.

A cautious first round saw Machida waving his hands around, trying to fool Davis into following the movement instead of the footwork, but Davis kept the range and used leg kicks and push kicks to score damage, eventually forcing Machida to backpedal toward the fence to avoid the left jab and right head kick. It was a solid 10-9 opening round for Davis.

Machida got stung by a right hand in the second round but recovered quickly from it. The teep kick scored repeatedly for Davis as did the body kick. Machida never seemed to be able to find the range to score with a big shot, and when he did throw the head kick Davis was able to check it and avoid damage. He was up 2-0 going into the third.

Machida’s best round was the third, but for my money Davis was still the faster fighter who landed the more frequent strikes. Machida always seemed to be just an inch short of landing a hard, clean, flush shot that did significant damage, while Davis was consistently able to pull the trigger with his hands and feet.

Davis pulled it out by split decision 28-29 and 29-28 X2 and spoke to “Big” John McCarthy.

“To be completely honest I really really learned that technique the first time I prepared to fight him and he had just come off that great knockout of Randy Couture. I got away from it in the third because he was checking in and returning fire to the lead leg, so I just wanted to minimize. Listen you thought this fight was close that fight (with Nemkov) was razor thin. I forgot I had him in a deep kimura and was on top of him in the third round. I’m so proud of him but live it up my friend, I’m coming.”

Featherweight fighters also had a share of the spotlight as Cat Zingano (10-4) faced the durable and daunting Gabby Holloway (6-5) in Zingano’s long-awaited Bellator debut.

Zingano got her promotional welcome courtesy of a hard right hand by Holloway seconds into the fight. Her response was to tie Holloway up, trip her to the ground, take side control and look for an armbar. Holloway slipped out of it, but Zingano threw a head kick and pushed her back into the fence. After some good strikes at close range she took her down again and was on top at the end of Round 1.

The second round went just as well for Zingano. She scored another takedown, worked her way to full mount, landed some hard elbows on top and managed to recover to take the back when Holloway tried to escape by pushing off the fence with her feet. No matter what Holloway tried to do Zingano always seemed to be one step ahead of her.

Holloway had her best moments of the fight in the final round as she got up from Zingano’s first takedown and immediately scored one of her own that put her in full mount. From there she tried to posture up to land hands and elbows, but Zingano worked hard to keep things chest to chest. When Holloway opened up to try to elbow her foe in the head (commentary was sure to point out they weren’t 12 to 6), Zingano swept on top, then took Holloway right back down and got her own back mount to land hard rights to the bell.

Zingano took the decision 29-27, 30-26 X2 and the John McCarthy interview followed.

“Thank you John! It’s really good to get back in here, she’s an awesome opponent, I was really honored and excited to be in here with her. I wanted this to be a quick night. Nobody wants to stay in here the whole 15 minutes right? So, I wanted to be overwhelming. I wanted to come in hard and heavy and scary and um she was okay with that so we went the whole distance. It was good. That was an incredible fight. I remembered thinking ‘Oh shit!’ and she found another wind in me. She was excited to be on top. I knew I had to be patient because of the pace that she was going, I felt like she might get tired and then that would set me up for a big bump. I waited and it was there with the arm, so I flipped it around and got on top and did everything I could to really punish her for that moment.”

Up and coming contenders met at Middleweight as decorated wrestler “EZ” Ed Ruth (8-2) faced Taylor Johnson (5-1).

It’s probably not a surprise that Ruth went for a takedown right away, but Johnson saw it coming and immediately went for the leg looking to secure an inverted heel hook. At first glance it seemed that Ruth might be able to spin his way free, but Johnson secured it and put Ruth in the position of tapping or suffering a serious injury. He chose wisely and submitted at 0:59 of the first round. Johnson spoke to “Big” John McCarthy next.

“Thanks. What a great debut. Awesome opponent. I couldn’t have a better opportunity — the guy’s a stud. But yeah I just stayed cool, calm and collected. I’ve seen his fights and I didn’t see that he was too savvy with legs. When I started jiu-jitsu, I started a leg lock gym under Dean Lister, Jeff Glover, Jocko. All my guys in San Diego. You give me your leg, you might get it ripped off. So I stayed composed and just kept adjusting. I felt him moving around and I could tell he wasn’t super experienced with the leg locks so, I just sat tight down there and found my opportunity and popped some stuff.”

Rounding out the main card was a Welterweight showcase between kickboxing champion Raymond Daniels (2-1) and Peter Stanonik (4-4). Despite slipping on a kick to the body and briefly giving Stanonik a full mount, Stanonik was unable to capitalize on it to do any damage. Daniels got back to his feet and continued to strike at range, setting up spinning head kicks and overhand rights as he cruised to a 10-9 first round.

Unfortunately round two ground to a sudden halt as Daniels threw a spinning heel kick to the groin that caused Stanonik to double over in pain in the middle of the cage, spitting out his mouthpiece and groaning loudly. Stanonik was able to recover but 10 seconds later he got kicked again in the exact same spot. The fight ended there as Jason Herzog waved it off for a no contest at 1:00. A preliminary fight between Tyrell Fortune and Jack May also ended with no winner under similar circumstances.

For complete Bellator 245 results and coverage click here.