The Bellator MMA cage was on campus at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center for Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell. The fight card featured two title fights and was headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between champion Ryan Bader and challenger Linton Vassell.
Bader wasted no time employing his wrestling predigree and put Vassell on his back early in the opening frame. Vassell made his way to the cage and scrambled back to his feet. Once standing, Vassell delivered heavy leg kicks and landed combinations. Bader looked to be in trouble for a moment and opted to take the fight back to the ground.
In the second round, Bader quickly took Vassell down. He delivered elbows and punches as Vassell tried to defend himself. Bader trapped an arm and unloaded with left hands. Vassell was unable to mount any defense and the referee stepped in to stop the action. It was Bader’s second fight with the promotion and his first title defense.
“We knew that we got on top there and kind of wear him out a little bit that it would really start opening up. I started dropping heavy shots on him,” he said. “I started landing big bombs on him.”
In the co-main event, Bellator MMA crowned their first women’s flyweight champion. Unbeaten Ilima-Lei Macfarlane took on Emily Ducote in a rematch. Macfarlane defeated Ducote by unanimous decision at Bellator 167 in December 2016. The fight on Saturday did not go the distance.
Macfarlane dominated the opening round. She was the aggressor. She delivered knees to the body inside the clinch position and landed power punches from the outside. Macfarlane took Ducote down late in the frame and looked for submissions. In the second frame, Ducote fought her way back into the fight by pressing forward and increasing her output of strikes.
Macfarlane secured a late takedown in the third frame, but Ducote landed a takedown of her own in the fourth. Ducote’s decision to take the fight to the ground ultimately ended up being her undoing. She grounded Macfarlane in the final frame but found herself trapped in Macfarlane’s high guard. Macfarlane applied a triangle choke before transitioning to an armbar. Ducote was forced to tap out.
“There are so many reasons that I wanted to win this. For my family, first and foremost, my family that came all the way up here from Hawaii. My gym, they’ve been with me from day one and they’ve been telling me everyday that I was going to be a world champion. I never believed them and now that it’s here I just wanted bring it back to the gym,” said the 27-year-old Hawaiian.
“This is for Bellator,” she added. “I wanted to represent Bellator and be their first champ for everything that they’ve done for me in my career. This is for you guys too.”
Former light heavyweight champion and Penn State alum Phil Davis took on undefeated submission specialist Leonardo Leite. The match-up pitted a NCAA Division I All-American wrestler against an Olympian in Judo. Despite the wealth of ground experience in the fight, the action didn’t hit the canvas. The fight played out on its feet with Davis landing his jab and picking the Brazilian apart.
Leite worked to ground Davis in the opening round, but Davis shook off the attempt. While Davis didn’t look for a takedown, he closed the distance and inflicted damage from the clinch position. After establishing his jab early on, Davis worked in combinations and kicks on his way to a clear-cut unanimous decision. After the win, Davis called for a fight with the winner of the main event.
Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell Results:
- Ryan Bader def. Linton Vassell by TKO (punches) at 3:58, R2
- Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote by submission (armbar) at 3:42, R5
- Phil Davis def. Leonardo Leite by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ed Ruth def. Chris Dempsey by KO (punch) at 0:27, R2
- Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman by TKO (punch) at 1:07, R1
Preliminary Card Results:
- Mike Wilkins def. Brett Martinez by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:09, R2
- Michael Trizano def. Mike Otwell by submission (D’arce choke) at 2:07, R2
- Dominick Mazzotta def. Matt Loranzo by TKO (doctor stoppage) at 2:37, R1
- Logan Storley def. Matt Secor by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Tywan Claxton def. Jonathan Bowman by KO (flying knee) at 1:29, R1
- Frank Buenafuente def. Francis Healy by unanimous decision