Too big, too strong and too skilled.
In the most significant bout in the promotion's history and the first between champions in different divisions, Gegard Mousasi defended his middleweight title with a dominant second-round TKO over welterweight titleholder Rory MacDonald at Bellator 206 in San Jose.
Mousasi (45-6-2) left little doubt how much size matters in this meeting between the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the company and arguably the biggest free-agent acquisitions in company history considering both left UFC at the peak of their physical prime.
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"Much respect to Rory," Mousasi said. "I like him a lot, he's a phenomenal fighter and phenomenal guy, a family guy. I can only say good things about Rory and thanks for taking the fight and making this a super fight for Bellator."
Save for a pair of hard right hands he ate flush in the opening round, the 33-year-old Mousasi was able to control the distance and pace with a thudding jab that snapped the head of MacDonald (20-5) back repeatedly. Mousasi, in the first defense of the middleweight tile he won in May by dominating Rafael Carvalho, closed the tactical opening round with a big right hand.
"I knew that I had the reach advantage in the standup," Mousasi said. "I thought I had the speed advantage so the goal was to keep it in the standup and make him go for a takedown in a panic."
MacDonald, 29, saw his fortunes change for good in the second round when a sliding takedown attempt was easily stuffed and Mousasi began to rein down power shots that bloodied the Canadian's nose. Soon, Mousasi moved to full mount and badly battered his opponent with forearms and elbows until referee Herb Dean jumped in as MacDonald covered up for good.
"I had hurt him a little bit already and this was perfect, this was the fight that I needed," Mousasi said. "I think next is [Rafael] Lovato and then [Lyoto] Machida, if he wins. I think we need more drug testing for Machida. In April I will be ready for him if he wins but I'm not going to wait six months for Machida."
MacDonald not only pushed Bellator CEO Scott Coker to make the Mousasi fight, he insisted he be involved in the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament which debuted on Saturday. MacDonald is already scheduled to defend his 170-pound title against Jon Fitch at a date to be determined.
Bellator 206 fight card/results
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson def. Wanderlei Silva via second-round TKO (punches): Chapter four of a rivalry which extends 15 years across three promotions ended the same way once again -- with a knockout. In by far the sloppiest of their four brawls, Jackson (38-13) evened the score at two fights apiece with a second-round TKO in the first heavyweight bout of their series.
The two fighters hugged in the center of the cage after the fight with Silva (35-14-1, 1 NC) putting five fingers in the air to suggest one final bout between them is necessary.
"All the respect in the world for Wanderlei," Jackson said. "I watched Wanderlei fight at UFC 20 before I was even a fighter. I saw him destroy this guy with knees and I was instantly a fan of him. I love him and that's old school MMA. We ain't never going to get another Wanderlei so let's pay respect to him."
Jackson, 40, brought a significant weight advantage into the fight in Silva's first appearance at heavyweight since 2006. Jackson was briefly wobbled by a wild left hand in the opening round before hurting Silva in the closing seconds.
"He rocked me, he rocked me. My chin was tested this time," Jackson said. "When he rocked me this time I had a flashback to when he rocked me in Japan."
Silva, who scored stoppage wins over Jackson via knees under the Pride banner in 2003 and 2005, was unable to avoid Jackson's power once the action heated up in Round 2. Both fighters traded haymakers from close range to fire up the crowd. Jackson, who knocked Silva out in their third meeting at UFC 92 in 2008, proved able to repeat the performance when he dropped him with a right hand and forced the stoppage with a flurry of hammer shots.
"I knew it was coming to an end," Jackson said of the right hand. "You guys might not know because I have been fighting a lot of wrestlers but i have been training boxing a long time."
Silva, 42, lost for the ninth time in his last 13 bouts dating back to 2006.
Douglas Lima def. Andrey Koreshkov via fifth-round submission (rear-naked choke): The opening first-round bout of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament saw a steady stream of boos from the crowd and a surprising lack of action. But Lima, a former two-time Bellator 170-pound champion, was able rile up a sleeping crowd late by doing the exact same thing to Koreshkov.
Lima (30-7), a native of Brazil, stuffed a single-leg takedown attempt from Koreshkov (21-3) and quickly took his back and applied a rear-naked choke. The 28-year-old Russian, worn down from four rounds of hard kicks, passed out as referee Josh Rosenthal jumped in at 3:04 of Round 5.
"That's the type of guy that he is, he would rather go to sleep than tap," Lima said. "He has been with Bellator from the very beginning like myself. All my respect to him and it was an honor to compete against him one more time."
The trilogy bout between former Bellator champions seemed to prove how much familiarity worked in direct opposition to entertainment. Koreshkov put forth a passive and disappointing performance by switching stances and circling away throughout most of the fight. He also proved unsuccessful in taking the 30-year-old Lima down.
"Koreshkov is a tough guy, he is a dangerous guy," Lima said. "I'm sorry if it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be but you can't blink against a guy like that. We got it done. I was breaking him and I saw that the leg kicks were slowing him down a bit and I was able to capitalize."
Lima, who avenged his 2015 decision loss by knocking Koreshkov out one year later, controlled the final four rounds with counter punches and leg kicks. He advanced to the second round to face the winner of Michael Page-Paul Daley, which currently doesn't have a date.
Aaron Pico vs. Leandro Higo via first-round TKO (punches): With Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, Pico relied on his thunderous right hands to finish Higo in a featherweight bout that marked a giant step up in competition for the 22-year-old super prospect. Pico (4-1) traded punches early with the Brazilian Higo (18-5), who unsuccessfully challenged for Darrion Caldwell's Bellator bantamweight title in his last fight.
Pico showed a good chin after getting tagged with clean counter punches and a knee to the face but it was his powerful right hand that sent Higo, 29, reeling.
"I just had to regain focus [after being hurt early,]" Pico said. "It wasn't anything crazy. I just had to regain focus and use my jab. It forces you to keep your focus and roll with the punches like they say."
A left hook spun Higo around and briefly floored him. After a flurry from Pico along the cage, a clean right cross turned Higo's chin and dropped him. Referee Mark Smith could've stopped the fight as Pico unloaded hammer shots on the ground but chose to give Higo every opportunity to continue. An unnecessary beating continued from there as Higo regained his feet and ate a series of flush hooks. Pico then landed a short right forearm to drop Higo and force the stoppage.
"I've been saying before the fight that [Higo] has never fought a guy on my level - a guy that hits as hard as me, that pushes the pace," Pico said. "I'm not going to get tired. I said it before the fight, people didn't believe me but it feels good to go out there and do it against a tough guy in Leandro Higo. He came to fight. I always say that Brazilians come to fight.
"My progression is going fantastic. I'm working with the best coaches in the world. Am I an all-around complete fighter? No, absolutely not but that's what wakes me up in the morning to be the best. I'lll tell you one thing, three to four years from now there is no one who can touch me in this cage."
Keri Melendez def. Dakota Zimmerman via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28): Melendez (3-0), a veteran kickboxer and wife of former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez, was fortunate to edge a close decision. Although Melendez landed the more significant strikes, including a front kick to the face and a vicious slam in Round 1, Zimmerman (0-1) proved incredibly tough in her pro debut by routinely bringing the fight to the ground and winning the grappling battle.
Gaston Bolanos def. Ysidro Gutierrez via second-round TKO (strikes)
On the prelim portion of the card, Arlene Blencowe (11-7) pulled off a massive slam before finisher her opponent with a flurry a punches for the stoppage. It was her sixth TKO victory and seventh stoppage win in her career.