Bellator 226 results, highlights: Ryan Bader vs. Cheick Kongo ends in no contest after eye poke
Bader retains his heavyweight title, but in an unsatisfying manner
Cheick Kongo fights have a tendency to go a bit sideways, so it's not entirely surprising his bid for Ryan Bader's heavyweight title in the main event of Bellator 226 ended in unusual fashion.
Bader dominated the early going in the fight, tagging Kongo with heavy punches while easily fending off the bigger man's takedown attempts. After Bader scored a takedown and began laying in heavy ground and pound, Kongo attempted to wall walk to his feet only to eat more strikes before suddenly gesturing to his eye, forcing referee Mike Beltran to halt the fight due to an eye poke.
Kongo told the ringside physician he was unable to see, resulting in the fight being waived off and the fight being declared a no contest due to an accidental eye poke. Replays of the end of the fight were inconclusive on if Kongo was poked or punched in the eye leading to the finish.
The rest of the night's action was far more decisive with the Featherweight Grand Prix kicking off with four fights. Three of the bouts ended in the second round with only one reaching the judges' scorecards. Pedro Carvalho, Derek Campos, Adam Borics and Emmanuel Sanchez all advanced to the quarterfinals with impressive showings.
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Bellator 226 results, live updates
Ryan Bader (c) vs. Cheick Kongo ends in a no contest: Bader quickly landed a series of left hands to start Round 1, putting Kongo on his heels. Kongo whiffed on multiple takedown attempts and ate punches as punishment. Bader ended up scoring his own takedown, ending up in Kongo's half guard. Bader quickly passed to full mount and began landing punches as Kongo tried to keep him from posturing up. Kongo was able to escape mount and try to work to his feet.
As Kongo was attempting to wall walk to get back to his feet, he began pointing to his eye as Bader was throwing punches. Referee Mike Beltran stopped the fight and after the doctor checked on Kongo, the fight was waived off. Beltran said Bader's thumb slipped into the eye of Kongo during the strikes and the inadvertent eye poke resulted in a no contest.
Derek Campos def. Daniel Straus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25): This was an overall dominant performance for Campos. Straus missed a kick in the opening seconds of the fight and was unable to get up before Campos was to leapt on top and into his guard. Campos, who entered the bout on a three-fight losing skid, was patient in working from the top before ending the round with a striking flurry from mount. Having had success from the top in the opening frame, Campos scored an immediate takedown to start Round 2. While Campos didn't do much from top position for most of the round, he was eventually able to pass to mount where he landed strikes to the body and once again closed the round with a flurry of strikes. Round 3 was no different with Campos again scoring a takedown and work for an arm-triangle choke he was unable to finish. Still, Campos was able to sit in mount and completely control Straus on the ground before the fight went back to the feet with half a minute to go where it became clear Straus had some sort of issue with his arm.
Adam Borics def. Pat Curran via second-round TKO (knee, punches): Borics and Curran engaged in a feeling out process that lasted almost the entire first round. Both men threw leg kicks and landed a few punches, but neither established much by way of dominance. Things didn't get much more exciting for the first four minutes of the second round, but with one minute left in the round, Borics landed a spectacular flying knee, putting Curran down. Borics poured on wild strikes as the clock ticked down. Referee Frank Trigg stepped in and waived the fight off one second after the bell rang to end the round, deciding Curran could not continue and giving Borics the biggest win of his career.
Pedro Carvalho def. Sam Sicilia via second-round submission (face crank): Carvalho got the better strikes in to start the fight but slipped and found himself fighting off his back in the first round. Sicilia fought for a rear-naked choke two different times but ended up getting swept. Carvalho threatened with a guillotine choke before ending the round with a bit of ground and pound. Back-and-forth striking kicked off the second round before Carvalho was able to get the fight to the ground and quickly take Sicilia's back. Carvalho was looking for a rear-naked choke but settled for a face crank and torqued Sicilia's head to force the third consecutive submission on the main card.
Emmanuel Sanchez def. Tywan Claxton via second-round submission (triangle choke): An early takedown from Claxton set the tone for much of the opening round as the less experienced fighter repeatedly put Sanchez on his back but was unable to do much with the position. Sanchez was the man who closed the round with a big takedown into the mount, dropping big ground and pound until Claxton was saved by the bell. The first half of the second round was a battle in the clinch to see who would get the takedown. Calxton eventually scored the big slam to the canvas but Sanchez moved from an inverted triangle choke to a standard triangle. Sanchez worked elbows and punches to the head of Claxton as he was stuck in the hold before finally turning the corner to sink the choke deep enough to secure the tap.
Daniel Carey def. Gaston Bolanos via first-round submission (guillotine choke): Bolanos, the highly-touted prospect whose entire professional career has taken place in the Bellator cage, utilized leg kicks early while eating a few decent counter shots before a counter right hand landed to earn Carey's respect. Carey caught Bolanos getting sloppy while ducking his head out of the way of a punch and locked what looked to be a loose arm-in guillotine choke. Bolanos eventually jumped into guard while holding onto the choke and put a tight squeeze while yelling to referee Mike Beltran that Bolanos had gone out in the choke. When Bolanos didn't respond to Beltran's demands to show he was still there, Beltran ended the fight, pulling an unconscious Bolanos from the choke.
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