Bellator 222 results, highlights: Chael Sonnen retires following TKO loss to Lyoto Machida
Machida landed a pair of perfect head kicks to finish the veteran off
Chael Sonnen spoke openly throughout fight week of the danger in standing right in front of him in former UFC champion Lyoto Machida in Friday's Bellator 222 co-main event.
Then he found out firsthand.
Machida (26-8) improved to 2-0 under the Bellator banner by relying on a jumping knee to the face that floored Sonnen in each of the opening two rounds. The second one left Sonnen (31-17-1) in a bad way before Machida followed up with hammer strikes to force the stoppage at 22 seconds inside New York's Madison Square Garden.
After the fight, the 42-year-old Sonnen laid his gloves down in the center of the cage to signify his retirement after a colorful 22-year career. The former two-time UFC title challenger turned out to be one of the most important free-agent signings in Bellator history when he ended a four-year layoff in 2017 to lend his star to the promotion.
"I got one thing to say, I had a hell of a lot of fun," Sonnen said. "I had a good run and [Bellator president] Scott Coker gave me a five-fight deal and those five fights are over. Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the memories. Good bye."
Sonnen, who fell to 2-3 under the Bellator banner, predictably mirrored his aggressive reputation by seeking a takedown throughout. The strategy left him open to Machida's unique style of counter striking karate.
Machida, 41, set Sonnen up with a trio of hard kicks to the body before flooring him with a flying knee to the chin late in Round 1. Sonnen was lucky to survive the barrage which followed on the ground and received a loud cheer from the MSG faithful when he eventually regained his feet to close the round.
The second round, however, was a mirror image of the first and an early takedown attempt from Sonnen saw him dropped by a similar flying knee to set up the finish.
"I felt really good tonight. I really appreciate Chael for coming here and fighting me. He is a true gent of a guy," Machida said. "I didn't expect Chael to make it [out of Round 1]. He made it and he's really tough because I put my knee really strong and he took it really nice."
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A former 205-pound champion in UFC and a title challenger at middleweight, Machida secured his fourth straight win and remains a viable contender in both divisions with Bellator.
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