(Courtesy of BellatorMMA)
In the Bellator 168 light heavyweight main event on Saturday, Alessio Sakara (19-11, 2 NC) sent a sellout crowd at Nelson Mandela Forum into a frenzy with a 1:20 first-round TKO of Joey Beltran (17-14, 1 NC).
With the win, “Legionarious” remains undefeated in Bellator MMA following his “Bellator 152” victory over Brian Rogers earlier this year. Sakara, 35, has now won 14 out of his 18 victories as a professional without needing the help of the cage side judges.
With the loss, Beltran has now dropped two consecutive bouts and three of his last four.
Yamauchi Leans on Jiu-Jitsu in Time of Need
In an absolute barnburner, Goiti Yamauchi (32-9) sneakily tapped Valeriu Mircea (12-4) at 3:33 of the opening round after slipping in a triangle choke. The fight was definitely a tale of two halves, Mircea rocked Yamauchi with shots which forced the Brazilian fighter to look for a submission, but Mircea followed with two enormous slams that had Yamauchi clearly dazed. In the end, it was the jiu-jitsu pedigree of the victor that was the difference, handing Yamauchi his second win since making the jump to lightweight.
“If you have watched all my fights in Bellator, you know that I am not here to just be a regular fighter, I am here to be a world champion,” Yamauchi said after his fight. “I want to fight world-class fighters, I’m ready to be champion.”
Ed Ruth Ends 2016 on a High Note
Much like John Salter earlier in the evening, Ed Ruth (2-0) made quick of his Italian opponent Emanuele Palombi (5-3), earning the technical knockout win at 1:33 of round one. Any victory is impressive, but the fact that Ruth took the fight on less than seven days notice, flew from California and still had no issues is that much more compelling. After the main card contest, Ruth said that there seems to be a bit of healthy competition between himself and his fellow “New Breed” counterparts: Joey Davis, Romero Cotton, Aaron Pico, Tyrell Fortune, and Jarod Trice — who all are undefeated since making their professional debuts.
Silva Upsets Lins on Short-Notice
On short notice, Kleber Raimundo Silva (13-7) finished Philipe Lins (10-2) after a flurry of strikes at 3:42 of the second round. The loss is only the second of Lins’ 12-fight professional MMA career, while Silva makes a huge statement in his Bellator MMA debut at 205-pounds. At only 28 years of age, Silva has been competing professionally since 2007, with majority of his career taking place in his native of Brazil.
John Salter Dominates Opponent for Fifth Straight Victory
It didn’t take long for John Salter (13-3) to assume full-mount on his opponent Claudio Annicchiarico (1-5) and relentlessly rain down unanswered punches that forced referee Jason Herzog to wave off the opening contest of “Bellator 168: Sakara vs. Beltran” at 1:40 of round one. With the victory, Salter has now won five straight contests, four coming in the opening round.
“I am the best 185-er in Bellator and I’m ready for my title shot next,” Salter said after his victory. “On the ground, I’m the best there is in this division. I’m ready whenever Bellator is ready to have me back.”
It remains to be seen what will come of Bellator’s middleweight crown, as this very event was at one time supposed to be headlined by a rematch for the 185-pound belt featuring Rafael Carvalho against Melvin Manhoef.