MMA Review: #644: Bellator 198

-Okay, so I don’t give a flying fuck about the Bellator HW Grand Prix as it’s clearly a farce with a bunch of non-Heavyweights in there, but I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to check out Fedor vs. Mir which is like a genuine all-time dream match from the PRIDE vs. UFC heyday. Come on, it’s Fedor vs. Mir!

Bellator 198

04/28/18
Chicago, Illinois

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo who I could’ve done without hearing again, and Big John McCarthy of all people.

Middleweight Fight: Dillon Danis vs Kyle Walker

This was Conor McGregor training partner – and world-class grappler as well as world-class egotist – Danis’ MMA debut, and he was faced with a hand-picked opponent in Kyle Walker – NOT the England footballer for those wondering, instead a dude with a 2-3 record.

Round One begins and Danis presses forward right way and misses on an early takedown attempt. Walker looks to fire off some punches and connects on a left, then stuns Danis with another one, but Danis recovers okay. Couple of kicks glance for Danis and he crudely clinches and pulls half-guard. Full guard follows and he locks Walker down, then rolls for an armbar. Walker avoids that but gets caught in a leglock, and Danis switches up to a toehold to force the tapout.

Fun fight for as long as it lasted; Danis looked awful on the feet and was being lit up by Walker, but when he got it to the ground Walker was clearly massively overmatched. Bellator need to be careful with Danis though and not over-push him because the moment he comes up against someone who won’t go to the ground with him he’s probably doomed. Dude needs a good 2/3 years to really hone his striking skills but he’s a good prospect to have for sure if his ego can stay in check.

Welterweight Fight: Neiman Gracie vs Javier Torres

This was Gracie’s 6th Bellator fight surprisingly enough and he was still coming in unbeaten overall at 7-0. Torres meanwhile was somewhat of a step up for him – sure, he’d been totally unremarkable on TUF back in 2011 but he was at least on a four-fight win streak and had a solid record of 10-3.

Round One begins and Gracie glances on an early flurry. Good body kick from Gracie but Torres lands with a heavy counter left. Another body kick lands for Gracie before he catches a Torres kick and dumps him to the ground. Good stuff from Gracie. Torres works right back to his feet, but Gracie stays on him with a bodylock and looks to force him back down. Takedown does follow into Torres’s guard, and from there he drops back for a leglock, but Torres manages to avoid and they wind up in a 50/50 position. Dangerous for Torres for sure. Gracie keeps trying for the leglock but can’t quite secure it, and he’s running out of time too. He’s somehow got both of Torres’s legs trapped. Round ends on the ground, though, with no submission. 10-9 Gracie.

Round Two and Torres opens with a decent combination that forces Gracie back, but Gracie comes back with a flurry that sets up a takedown attempt along the fence. Torres works to defend it, but Gracie keeps working and trips him down into guard. Gracie’s got great takedowns for, well, a modern Gracie. Looks like Torres is trying to stall for a stand-up, but Gracie passes into half-guard and starts to look for an arm triangle choke. Full mount follows to get the crowd into it and Torres is in trouble. Punches set up the arm triangle again and this time Gracie really gets the squeeze down and slips out to the side to force the tap.

Pretty great showing for Neiman Gracie actually, he looked good with his takedowns, his stand-up seemed fine and on the ground he was tremendous as you’d expect. Maybe time for a proper step up in competition if he feels ready for it? I’m talking someone like Paul Daley or Jon Fitch, fuck it. Both guys are over the hill now so why not?

Middleweight Fight: Rafael Lovato Jr. vs Gerald Harris

This was Lovato’s fourth fight in Bellator after beating some decent names in the form of Chris Honeycutt and Mike Rhodes, and the world champion grappler (notice a trend with this card?) was initially faced with UFC vet John Salter here, but when Salter had to withdraw another UFC vet in Gerald Harris – probably a better fighter than Salter actually – stepped in to take the fight after winning four in a row.

Fight begins and Harris counters a low kick with a decent right, but Lovato seems fine and he glances on a flying knee. He slips to the mat in the process and Harris follows him down into the guard, but right away Lovato raises his hips up to look for an armbar, and sure enough he gets it, flipping Harris over to force the tapout.

Total squash and I don’t know what the hell Harris was thinking going to the ground with a dude as dangerous as that. Really bad decision. Can’t see Lovato going massively far as he’s already 35 but with that kind of skill he’s someone to keep an eye on at least. Way too soon for him to fight someone like Gegard Mousasi of course though!

Featherweight Fight: Emmanuel Sanchez vs Sam Sicilia

Sicilia had won his Bellator debut by beating Marcos Galvao in December after losing 3 in a row in the UFC, but this looked like a really hard fight for him as Sanchez was on a three-fight win streak including getting a submission over former Bellator champ Daniel Straus.

First round begins and they trade pretty wildly to begin with Sanchez holding his own with Sicilia on the feet. Big punch lands for Sicilia and forces Sanchez back, but Sanchez follows with a clinch and lands a knee. Takedown attempt from Sicilia looks to be following (!) but he can’t get Sanchez down. Probably best for him anyway. Rolling kneebar attempt from Sanchez is avoided well by Sicilia, but Sanchez goes back for a second attempt. Sicilia has to roll and spin to avoid that, and he eventually ends up in Sanchez’s guard. Sicilia postures up to drop some hammer fists and takes an upkick in the process before dropping into the guard. This is a crazy pace. More punches get through for Sicilia before Sanchez again goes for a leglock. That causes him to give his back though and now Sicilia tries for a choke, but doesn’t get the hooks in and that allows Sanchez to reverse and take the back and HE jumps up with both hooks slapped in. Sicilia manages to shake him off though. Couple of wild head kicks from behind land for Sanchez and then he switches to a standing arm triangle (!) and really locks it on tightly, and Sicilia ends up falling to the ground with Sanchez holding the choke almost from the back. Seconds later Sicilia’s out.

Absolutely sick submission from Emmanuel Sanchez – one of the best I’ve seen in years in fact – and this should be enough to get the guy a title shot. He looked awesome here, incredibly aggressive and taking the fight to Sicilia in all areas. Perfect dude for Bellator to push too as he’s never washed out of the UFC before and is pretty much a home-grown guy.

Heavyweight Fight: Fedor Emelianenko vs Frank Mir

Well, clearly this was coming like a decade too late – Mir was coming in having not won a fight since his 2015 KO of Todd Duffee and he’d been banned for PED use, while Fedor had somehow been KO’d by Matt Mitrione of all people in his previous fight, but hey, I was still interested just because it would’ve been such a great fight back in the day. For the record I think Prime Fedor would’ve beaten Prime Mir because even then Mir didn’t take a shot well and Fedor wasn’t the type of guy to get caught in a sub, but in 2018 it was anyone’s guess.

Crowd are WAY into this one as you’d expect, holy shit. Mir looks in far better shape than he did in his final UFC outing, although not as good as in his prime, obviously. Fedor is Fedor with his classic gut.

They get underway and Mir opens with a low kick and DROPS FEDOR WITH AN OVERHAND RIGHT! He pounces and looks to land some follow-up shots as Fedor tries to clinch, but Fedor hits a nice hip throw and then lands a left as they pop up. Both guys look quite tired already as they exchange knees from the clinch and then break, and Mir comes in swinging wildly but takes a short left and goes down face-first! Fedor quickly follows it up with some more shots and it’s over.

Well, that was awesome for as long as it lasted. Glad it ended when it did as I think it could’ve gotten ugly if it ended up being two gassed old guys after like three minutes but hey, Fedor gave us a classic Fedor knockout and Mir tried his best and had the Russian in trouble, but couldn’t seal the deal. No complaints from me even if this Heavyweight GP sucks. It DOES mean that we get Fedor vs. Sonnen though and I’m not ashamed to say I’ll watch that one for sure.

-And the show indeed ends with a Chael/Fedor face-off with Chael cutting a heel promo, saying the only thing he dislikes more than being in Chicago is being in the cage with Fedor! Gotta love Chael.

Final Thoughts….

This was awesome for a throwaway show, everything went super-quickly, we got four slick submissions – all different types too – and then Fedor vs. Mir was about as good as it could’ve been expected to be given where both guys are now. Lord only knows with a Coker promotion how much any of it will mean in like six months, but fuck it, this was great.

Best Fight: Mir vs. Fedor
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com