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Bellator 149 results: Emmanuel Sanchez grinds out win over Daniel Pineda

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Emmanuel Sanchez has a reputation as a slow starter and strong finisher. Bellator 149 did nothing to dissuade that notion.

The Roufusport featherweight overcame a slow start against game veteran Daniel Pineda Friday night in the main card opener at Houston's Toyota Center.

Sanchez won via split decision, earning a 29-27 and 29-28, with one curious 29-28 card going in Pineda's favor

Fighting in his hometown, Pineda got off to a solid start in a frantic opening round, highlighted by a tight kneebar attempt.

In a grind of a second round, Sanchez slowly took control, damaging Pineda to the point the doctor needed to check his foot in between rounds.

In the third, Sanchez opened up with an early takedown and an efficient ground-and-pound assault, nearly finishing the resilient Pineda and opening a nasty cut around his right eye.

The victory was the third in a row for Pineda (13-2), who is 6-1 in Bellator. Pineda, a UFC vet, dropped to 21-12.