Bellator 207 results: Ryan Bader demolishes Matt Mitrione to advance to Heavyweight Grand Prix final

If Ryan Bader's 13-second knockout win in his first-round matchup in May didn't make him the instant favorite to win the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament, Friday's shutout of Matt Mitrione should dissuade any remaining doubters.

Bader (26-5), the reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion, put on a clinic of wrestling and ground-and-pound by dominating Mitrione (13-6) from bell to bell via unanimous decision at Bellator 207 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

How dominant was Bader in his semi-final bout? Not only did he take home judges' scores of 30-25, 30-24 and 30-25 in the three-round fight, he went virtually untouched save for a left cross that Mitrione landed to open the second round.

"I'm fighting a 255-pound guy here and getting on top of him and doing what I know which is what's best for that gameplan," Bader said. "I started taking him down and punishing him, more, more more. It was 10-8 rounds for every round there. I don't like to fight like that but you've got to stick with what you've got."

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Although Bader, 35, began to weather boos from the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd by Round 3, his performance left absolutely nothing to balk at. Not only was his pace high, particularly on the ground, he routinely took Mitrione down and bashed him clean punches.

Thanks to advantages as the smaller man in speed and cardio, Bader completely took away Mitrione's power and awkward style on the feet by simply making sure he was never standing for longer than the opening few seconds of each round.

Bader advances to the finals of the Grand Prix in January, with a chance at becoming the promotion's first simultaneous two-division champion when he fights for the vacant heavyweight crown. He will face the winner of Saturday's Bellator 208 main event from Uniondale, New York, as Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko meets Chael Sonnen.

"They both pose different styles but if I'm a fan of the sport and I grew up watching it, a Grand Prix style tournament with a chance to fight Fedor for the heavyweight championship of the world? Let's go," Bader said when asked who he would prefer to face.

The 40-year-old Mitrione, a former NFL defensive lineman, snapped a four-fight winning streak since his Bellator debut in 2016. Mitrione showed heart in never giving up despite having his gas tank drained on the ground. He nearly tapped due to a kimura attempt in Round 3 before fighting his way out.

Bader appears to be entering the peak of his physical and mental prime with his sixth straight win and improved to 11-1 dating back to a 2013 loss. He captured the promotion's 205-pound title in July 2017 in his Bellator debut by defeating fellow UFC alumni Phil Davis via split decision.

Bellator 207 fight card, results

Ryan Bader def. Matt Mitrione via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-24, 30-25)
Sergei Kharitonov  def. Roy Nelson via first-round TKO (strikes)
Lorenz Larkin def. Ion Pascu via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Corey Browning def. Kevin "Baby Slice" Ferguson via second-round TKO (punches)
Mandel Nallo def. Carrington Banks via first-round TKO (knee): Bellator MMA may have just found its knockout of the year.

A jumping right knee from Mandel Nallo was enough to remove Carrington Banks of consciousness in a spectacular finish in Round 2 that send the lightweight Banks falling face first to the canvas on Friday at Bellator 207 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Nallo (7-0) improved to 2-0 under the Bellator banner as he brought fans inside Mohegan Sun Arena with the devastating strike that brought an instant end to the fight just 57 seconds into the second round.

"We knew [Banks] was a great wrestler but in the first round when he would jab, he would dip his head to the out to my right side and I kept missing with the right hand because he was dipping," Nallo said. "My coach told me to start focusing on stuff that was lower and I figured that the old knee was going to do the trick."

As Banks (7-2) took a step forward early in Round 2, Nallo timed him perfectly with a leaping knee that caught him flush on the chin and knocked him out cold. Color commentator "Big" John McCarthy on the Paramount Network telecast instantly called it one of the top 10 best knockouts in Bellator history.

Nallo, a native of Vancouver, nearly had the fight finished in the opening round when he caught Banks with an anaconda choke.

"I think he was real close [to tapping]," Nallo said. ".I think that he's a real savvy wrestler and he kept underhooking and getting around my hips and I couldn't choke him with his own arm. I'm like squeezing and if I get this done in Round 1, I can go hang out at the restaurant. I'm trying to do this real quick but then I felt like a doofus when he got out."

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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