Nearly nine years after their first meeting, Ryan Bader extracted some revenge and took a step toward regaining his light heavyweight title.
In the scheduled five-round opener of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix, Bader and Lyoto Machida squared off in the main event of Bellator 256 Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Bader was able to negate the first knockout loss of his career to Machida, which took place at UFC on FOX 4 in August 2012, with a dominant unanimous decision win.
Machida landed the first strikes of the fight with a pair of leg kicks to the current heavyweight champion, followed by a hard kick to the body. Bader looking for an opening charged in with an overhand right and ate another snapping kick to the midsection. Machida remaining calm and calculated, welting up the ribs of Bader. With less than a minute to go, Bader landed a hard right hand, followed by a short left. Machida answers with a high kick and a jumping knee which led to Bader looking for a takedown as the bell rang.
Both fighters traded kicks to start the second with Machida looking as relaxed as ever. Machida continued to strike first before Bader charged in and landed a big takedown with just under two minutes to go in the round. Short punches from Bader as Machida worked to get back to his feet, but to no avail. Continuous left hands from Bader land to cap off the stanza.
Machida scored with a head kick to start the third round, but Bader showed some more confidence on the feet before taking Machida down. On top, Bader dropped hammers on Machida, who started to wear the damage on his face heading into the championship rounds.
Smelling blood, Bader came out aggressive in the fourth landing heavy shots before taking Machida back down with over four minutes to work. He smothered Machida on the mat, landing short punches and elbows.
It was more of the same to kick off the fifth and final round as Bader quickly took Machida down, landing a hard body shot that changed the former UFC champ’s facial expression. Bader continued to use heavy top pressure and effective ground and pound. Machida landed a back elbow to open a cut on the forehead of his opponent, but the final 20 minutes of the fight belonged to Bader as he got back in the win column after losing his light heavyweight title to Vadim Nemkov in August at Bellator 244.
Liz Carmouche welcomed the highly touted Vanessa Porto to the Bellator cage in the co-main event. Both ladies used a lot of kicks early in the first round, Carmouche landed a bit more and switched stances quite often in the first two minutes of the contest. The feeling out process continued on into the final minute with Porto beginning to open up with hard kicks to the leg and body of Carmouche. Porto looked for a takedown in the final seconds before the bell rang.
Carmouche landed a hard left hand early in the second round and drove Porto against the fence. The former UFC title challenger would work for under hooks, landing knees to the body in the process. Carmouche dropped towards a single and Porto tried to lock in a choke before getting taken down, albeit for maybe two seconds. The clinch battle carried on with Carmouche scoring with knees to the thighs before Porto was able to get separation. Both women traded kicks to the legs and body inside the final minute of the round with Carmouche landing more.
Porto looked to change momentum in the third, but Carmouche did a nice job making her miss and landing short counters. Carmouche then increased her aggressiveness and volume in the final seconds of the fight en route to a unanimous decision win.
Jeremy Kennedy entered the Bellator cage for the second time against Adam Borics in a fight that had hardcore fans quite excited. After a patient approach from both fighters early, Kennedy looked to get the fight to the mat. They would jockey for position against the fence before Kennedy landed a knee below the belt forcing a quick pause in the action. When the action resumed, Borics landed a pair of hard kicks to the calf of Kennedy. Counter right hand from Borics lands clean. Kennedy answered with a jab and a quick takedown. Borics got right back to his feet when the round ended.
Kennedy came out a bit more aggressive in the second, while Borics continued to counter effectively. Blood began to flow from the nose of a Borics, who used a beautiful jab to score points often in the second round. Calf kicks and jabs were the weapons of choice for Borics, who then attempted a flying knee that came up short, much to the delight of both athletes. Borics landed a hard kick in the final seconds of the stanza that got Kennedy’s attention.
In the third round, Borics dropped Kennedy with a calk kick and got on top. Kennedy was looking for an opening to sweep and made his move at the halfway point of the round. With just over a minute to go, Kennedy got Borics down, and the Hungarian fighter spent the remainder of the fight trying to wall walk to his feet, thwarting a Kennedy mount to do so as the final bell sounded. All three judges scored it for Borics, with one judge giving the Sanford MMA standout a clean sweep.
Cat Zingano gets first finish in over six years
Former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano made her second Bellator appearance against Tennessee’s Olivia Parker. Zingano got the fight to the ground in less than a minute, quickly moving to half guard. Zingano would move to full mount with around three minutes to work. Parker gave up her back and was able to reverse into top position. Zingano immediately went for an armbar forcing the tap.
In the main card opener, Goiti Yamauchi welcomed UFC veteran Dan Moret to the promotion. About a minute into the opening round, Moret landed a big combination that briefly dropped Yamauchi. Moret was showing his veteran savvy early before Yamauchi went for a flying knee attempt, which Moret turned into a takedown. Yamauchi would take the back of Moret standing with both hooks in, working with a kimura grip. Moret was able to shake his opponent off and end the round with hammer fists.
The second round saw Yamauchi quickly land a beautiful takedown and transition into side control. Moret used his feet to push off the fence to scramble to his feet until Yamauchi went for his neck before moving to the back once again. The 28-year-old Brazilian would drag Moret to the mat with both hooks in, which is how the round continued for the final 90 seconds.
The final round saw both athletes battle for position, mostly in the clinch against the fence. Moret continuously looked for separation while Yamauchi worked for a takedown attempt. As Yamauchi looked for a hip throw, Moret ended up on top with a little over a minute to go. Moret tried everything he could to land ground and pound, but Yamauchi worked for an armbar, ending up on Moret’s back until the final bell. In the end, two of the three judges scored it for Moret, snapping Yamauchi’s three-fight winning streak.
See the full Bellator 256 results below:
Ryan Bader def. Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45)
Liz Carmouche def. Vanessa Porto via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Adam Borics def. Jeremy Kennedy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Cat Zingano def. Olivia Parker via submission (armbar) — Round 1, 2:56
Dan Moret def. Goiti Yamauchi via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Dalton Rosta def. Tony Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Talita Nogueira def. Jessica Borga via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Jornel Lugo def. Cass Bell via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Cody Law def. Nathan Ghareeb via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nainoa Dung def. Izzy William via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)