The Bellator featherweight title remains around Patricio “Pibull” Freire’s waist, and the other bracket of the promotion’s semifinals in the featherweight grand prix are set after Bellator 252.
Freire knocked out Pedro Carvalho at the 2:10 mark of the first round of Thursday’s headliner at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The two-division champ set a devastating tone early with heavy counters before finishing off the job with a left hook-straight right combo that sent Carvalho crashing to the mat.
“It’s almost impossible to take my right hand on the chin and keep standing, and I knew that,” said Freire, who advances in the $1 million 145-pound tournament to rematch Emmanuel Sanchez, a fighter he beat via unanimous decision in 2018. The other bracket sees A.J. McKee square off with Darrion Caldwell.
Sanchez outworked Weichel to earn his second crack at Freire, who also holds the lightweight title.
“He’s tough,” Freire said after his win and before a staredown with his former opponent. “I was expecting that. He’s more dynamic, so I can’t wait to fight him again.”
Freire nearly secured a guillotine choke after landing one of his devastating counters early in the fight, but Carvalho, a product of rival gym SBG Ireland, scrambled free and got back to his feet. The second big shot, it was clear Carvalho wouldn’t last against Freire’s power, but he continued to press the issue and paid dearly.
“Pitbull” now has won seven of eight since recapturing the featherweight title from Daniel Straus in 2017.
Amosov holds onto 0 - barely
The man advertised as the fighter with the best current record in MMA looked very vulnerable in Bellator 252’s headliner. But he ultimately protected his resume.
Yaroslav Amosov advanced to 25-0 after a split call win over Logan Storley, who had him in deep trouble in the final moments of their three-round fight. Were it not for some nimble hand-fighting, Amosov looked like he was on the road to a blackout as Storley squeezed on several rear-naked choke attempts.
The submissions were Storley’s last move after a tough second round in which he appeared to tire after a D’Arce choke attempt from Amosov, who spent much of the fight ducking and dodging from his opponent’s low single attempts. Storley had Amosov on his heels, but couldn’t dominate exchanges as much as he would have liked and wound up on his back taking shots late in the middle frame.
The final scorecards were 29-28 twice for Amosov with one judge dissenting with a 29-28 score for Storley, who suffers the first pro loss of his career after 12 outings.
Sanchez avenges loss, advances in tourney
Judges were needed again in the second meeting between Daniel Weichel and Emmanuel Sanchez. But this time, there was a different winner, and it was a unanimous decision.
Sanchez’s pace and volume was too much for Weichel to overcome, leading to unanimous scorecards in his favor via 49-45, 49-45, 49-45 tallies. The victory not only avenged a split-call loss in 2016 but sent Sanchez to the semifinals of the featherweight grand prix.
That Weichel even made it to the scorecards was something of a miracle. A series of body shots in the second round first brought a visible wince and then an involuntary trip to the mat. Sanchez pounded away, and Weichel at one point drew a warning from the referee. But Weichel made it back to his feet and continued to slug away.
Emmanuel Sanchez has Daniel Weichel in trouble early on in round 2️⃣.#Bellator252 is LIVE now on @CBSSportsNet in the and with @SkySports in the .#Bellator #MMA #FeatherweightWGP pic.twitter.com/T9ckI7TUiQ— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 13, 2020
It wasn’t that Weichel wasn’t effective at moments. His straight punches repeatedly found their target against a more free-wheeling Sanchez. There just weren’t enough of them in volume or power to shift momentum in his favor. Sanchez continued to put together combinations, using a kick-heavy attack to hobble his opponent by the third round.
Weichel clinched up and hung on for dear life in the fourth to slow down Sanchez, and he tried one last charge as time ran out. But the final bell served as the puncutation on Sanchez’s victory.
Full Bellator 252 results:
Patricio Freire def. Pedro Carvalho via KO (punch) - Round 1, 2:10
Yaroslav Amosov def. Logan Storley via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Emmanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Weichel via unanimous decision (48-46, 49-46, 49-45)
Keri Taylor-Melendez def. Emilee King via submission (rear naked choke) - Round 1, 3:02