Bellator 192 descended upon Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night, kicking off the fight promotion’s 2018 and launching the Paramount Network, the rebranding of Spike TV.
The Bellator 192 fight card was headlined by Chael Sonnen overcoming a 31-pound weight differential to upset Rampage Jackson in the opening bout of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Rory MacDonald came to Bellator to become a world champion and just two fights into his tenure, the former UFC contender took the title from Douglas Lima. Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler also took a turn toward reclaiming the belt by defeating a game Goiti Yamauchi.
Chael Sonnen Overcomes 31 Pounds to Beat Rampage Jackson
It wasn’t pretty, but Chael P. Sonnen got the job done.
Knowing that he couldn’t match power for power with Jackson, Sonnen constantly darted in and out on, peppering Jackson with punches and kicks. None were going to knock the heavier fighter out, but they weren’t meant to. They were meant to divert Jackson’s attention away from Sonnen’s takedown attempts.
It worked well, as Jackson was only able to touch Sonnen on a couple of occasions, though his power advantage was apparent any time he made contact. Though Sonnen didn’t land a lot of clean takedowns, he frequently clinched and drug Jackson to the canvas, where he was able to grind and wear him down.
Jackson stormed across the cage at the beginning of the third round, knowing he had to go for broke in order to win, but Sonnen was too quick for him. He shrugged off Jackson’s taunts, as the bigger man tried to goad Sonnen into an unwanted striking exchange.
Sonnen remained focused and continued his clinch and takedown strategy, riding out the remainder of the fight, and earning unanimous scores of 29-28 from the judges. He will now move on in the tournament to face the winner of Frank Mir vs. Fedor Emelianenko later this year.
“God made six billion men and none of them are as tough as Chael Sonnen. Frank Mir and Fedor Emelianenko, boys, neither one of you is the best, but one of you is next!” Sonnen quipped after the fight.
“One on one, two on one, or five on one, I’ll make ‘em all need 9-1-1.”
Rory MacDonald Captures His First Bellator Championship
MacDonald put the pressure on Lima from the opening bell, immediately coming at the champion, pumping his jab and clinching along the fence. MacDonald’s approach was simple, to wear on Lima, get him to the ground, and grind it out.
His strategy worked well for the first couple of rounds, although Lima would occasionally sneak in a low leg kick that eventually paid dividends. Late in the third round, Lima kicked and MacDonald collapsed to the canvas. The tide turned.
MacDonald shot for a takedown early in the fourth round, but Lima turned him on the way to the canvas, landing in mount and doing a lot of damage for the next couple of minutes before MacDonald gained his full guard and got the referee to stand them up.
Knowing he couldn’t remain on his feet and risk Lima’s kicks any longer, MacDonald timed one of Lima’s low kicks with a sharp right hand and drove him to the canvas. MacDonald landed in Lima’s guard, where he stayed for the remainder of the round, weighing heavy on the champion, and landing numerous punches and elbows that bloodied his face.
When the scorecards were read, MacDonald knew he had achieved his goal. A unanimous decision proclaimed him the new Bellator welterweight champion, but it came at a cost. MacDonald wore the dues he paid on his face and in the hematoma growing out of his left shin.
“I think I have a person growing inside me down there from the looks of it. I can’t really walk on it,” MacDonald said after the fight.
“He’s the best fighter I ever fought, easy. I came in at my very best. This guy gave me challenges everywhere. It was an honor to compete with him. I definitely feel like the best in the world after fighting with that guy.”
Michael Chandler Dominates Goiti Yamauchi
Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler put on a dominant performance to put himself in position to regain the belt from Brent Primus.
Chandler lost the belt over the summer, but returned at Bellator 129, using his wrestling to plant Goiti Yamauchi on his back over and over throughout their three-round fight.
Yamauchi nearly stole the fight from Chandler in the second frame, landing a head kick that staggered the former champion. But Chandler kept Yamauchi on his back for the better part of the rest of the fight, grounding and pounding his way to victory.
Bellator president Scott Coker said before their fight that the winner of Chandler and Yamauchi would get a shot at Primus. That doesn’t appear to be what Chandler wants, but it’s likely to be what happens.
“It’s not who I want. I want to keep coming in here and doing phenomenal things. If that’s what Scott wants, that’s probably what’s going to happen. I’m the model employee. I’m a great employee, I do what I’m told,” Chandler said after the fight.
“I come in here, I show up because there’s gonna be a time when I take these gloves off for the final time. I never want to say I didn’t go out there and do amazing things.”
Highly touted wrestler Aaron Pico is just three fights into his mixed martial arts career, but put on an impressive 37-second display on Saturday night, knockout out Shane Kruchten via body shots.
Henry Corrales opened the Bellator 129 main card with a unanimous decision victory over Georgi Karakhanyan.
(Photos courtesy of Mike Van Gorder)
Bellator 129: Rampage vs. Sonnen Official Results
- Chael Sonnen def. Rampage Jackson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Rory MacDonald def. Douglas Lima by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-45, 49-46)
- Michael Chandler def. Goiti Yamauchi by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
- Aaron Pico def. Shane Kruchten by knockout at 0:37, R1
- Henry Corrales def. Georgi Karakhanyan by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Guilherme Vasconcelos def. Ivan Castillo by submission (arm-triangle choke) 4:12, R1
- Devon Brock def. Khonry Gracie by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jose Campos def. Haim Gozali by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Joey Davis def. Ian Butler by TKO (spinning back kick and punches) at 0:39, R1
- Jean-Paul Le-Bosnoyani def. Isaiah Culpepper by submission (armbar) at 2:11, R3
- Johnny Cisneros def. Marlen Magee by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:28, R3
Bellator 129: Rampage vs. Sonnen Fight Highlights
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