Ryan Bader did what he does best, and Cheick Kongo had no answer for it.
The two battled for the heavyweight title in the main event of Friday’s Bellator 280 card in Paris, a bout that served as a rematch of their Bellator 226 encounter that ended in a no contest after an accidental eye poke.
While Bader and Kongo battled in the clinch against the fence early, it appeared Bader landed a low knee and the action was stopped. Upon replay it was clear that it didn’t connect so the referee restarted the fighters in the same position. Bader continued working for the takedown for almost the entirety of the round, controlling Kongo while landing knees to the thighs and midsection, much to the chagrin of the fans at Accor Arena.
Kongo came out much more aggressively in the second as he landed some big shots that caught Bader’s attention. Moments later, Bader returned to the same position he was in throughout the first, pressing Kongo against the cage wall. The challenger tried to fight back with punches and elbows, but it didn’t seem to slow Bader down as the champion comfortably went up two rounds.
Bader continued with the exact same game plan in the third and fourth rounds while continuously landing knees to the legs and short punches.
With Kongo needing a Hail Mary in the fifth, Bader landed an easy takedown less than a minute in. With 90 seconds left, the referee stood it up and Kongo went on the attack. Just as quickly as that happened, Bader took the fight back to the fence, scored a takedown, and kept things consistent to close things out.
In the end, all three judges scored it a clean sweep for Bader (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) as he retained the championship for the second straight time.
Yoel Romero brutalizes Alex Polizzi before getting buzzer beater KO
Alex Polizzi realized quickly that Yoel Romero was different than any man he had faced in the co-main event of the card.
Polizzi went for a takedown early, but Romero sprawled and landed a big punch almost in one motion. Romero scored with a trio of straight left hands that were his most successful strikes of the opening round. Polizzi tried to answer, but it was clear Romero’s power was more surprising along with the 45-year-old’s defensive quickness on the grappling end. Romero ended the round with a takedown and a pair of left hands against the fence.
Romero unloaded on Polizzi early in the second round, before returning to a methodical pace. Romero scored time and time again with big straight lefts, one of which dropped Polizzi hard. As the second round ended, Polizzi’s face was a mess.
In the third, Romero slowed things down, although he landed a pair of left jabs, and another powerful left hook that dropped Polizzi, plus a straight left that had Polizzi almost out on his feet before he finally put an end to the fight with one second remaining on the clock.
Davy Gallon batters, bloodies Benjamin Brander for second-round TKO
Davy Gallon now has five wins in a row after a one-sided destruction of Benjamin Brander in a lightweight matchup.
Gallon used superior grappling in the first round before getting Brander back down early in the second. The 33-year-old was able to get into a crucifix position where he went on to land a slew of brutal elbows that sliced open his opponent. The referee stopped it just over three minutes into the second round.
@DavyGallon scores the TKO stoppage in front of a sold-out @Accor_Arena #Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/4wxHhmYZ8y— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
Lorenz Larkin destroys Kyle Stewart for fifth straight win
Lorenz Larkin didn’t need a lot of time to put away a fellow UFC veteran.
Larkin took on Kyle Stewart in a 185-pound matchup and “Da Monsoon” had Stewart on his heels right away. Larkin dropped Stewart and nearly finished him, but Stewart proved his toughness and survived — at least, for the time being. Less than a minute later, Larkin had Stewart hurt again, this time landing a barrage of vicious knees to the body and punches to the face to a grounded Stewart before Mike Beltran had seen enough.
Following the bout, and his second straight win at middleweight, Larkin said he’s heading back down to welterweight and hopes to return quickly.
@da_MONSOON picks up his 6️⃣th straight win.#Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/jYx8b1htUw— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
In the middleweight main card opener, France’s Gregory Babene fired the Paris crowd up with a vicious knockout of Mike Shipman.
' !@gregorybabene stops @MikeShipmanMMA in the first round #Bellator280 LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/bu3USKuA0Z— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 6, 2022
Get full Bellator 280 results below:
Ryan Bader def. Cheick Kongo via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Yoel Romero def. Alex Polizzi via TKO - Round 3, 4:59
Davy Gallon def. Benjamin Brander via TKO (elbows) - Round 2, 3:18
Lorenz Larkin def. Kyle Stewart via TKO - Round 1, 4:44
Gregory Babene def. Mike Shipman via KO - Round 1, 2:11
Piotr Niedzielski def. Pedro Carvalho via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Thibault Gouti def. Lewis Long via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jordan Barton def. Fabacary Diatta via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Soren Bak def. Charlie Leary via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Yves Landu def. Gavin Hughes via TKO (body kick) - Round 1, 3:01
Lucie Bertaud def. Katarzyna Sadura via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Youcef Ouabbas def. Matthieu Duclos via TKO - Round 1, 4:17
Bourama Camara def. Victor Verchere via TKO - Round 1, 3:06