It was a momentously fitting night for Bellator 216 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, taking place on February 16th. Although the card was stacked with big names and two undefeated fighters, the big night was overshadowed by lackluster performances in both Heavyweight bouts, controversial (or just downright bad) judging, and an absolute dud of a main event.
Colby Fletcher (1-3) vs. Valerie Loureda (1-0)
It was an emotional ending to the first match of the main card of Bellator 216, with 20 year old Taekwondo Master Valerie Loureda making her pro-MMA debut and getting the big first round finish over Colby Fletcher.
The match began with both fighters coming out aggressively, neither willing to relinquish any ground to the other, both pushing forward with barrages of punches and kicks. It was evident early that Loureda’s plan was to work body to head punch combinations, and it was a 3 strike combo that would seal the fight for the the Taekwondo master.
Loureda threw a right/left punch combo to the head of Fletcher, both of which connected, rocking Fletcher. Loureda followed her punches with a kick to the body, dropping Fletcher to the canvas. Loureda pursued, and began dropping hammer fists to the head and face of Fletcher. Referee Kevin MacDonald stood directly over the action, and called the first round TKO shorty thereafter.
Victor: Valerie Loureda, 1st round TKO
Erick Silva (20-10,1) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (21-0)
As tough as it would be to follow Fletcher vs. Loureda, the second fight on the main card Bellator 216 would not disappoint. Although Brazil’s Erick Silva and Ukraine’s Yaroslav Amosov had a combined 24 first round finishes, this fight would go the distance, and Amosov would easily get the nod.
The first round was far from what anybody expected, with both fighters spending the majority of the time finding their range and feeling out their opponent. Amosov predictably tried a few takedowns, but Silva did a good job combating the attempts of the Sambo practitioner. It was a close round, but I gave Amosov the edge for pressing the action.
The next two rounds would not be so close, as Amosov secured takedowns early in both, and in the same grinding fashion that we see from so many fighters from his side of the globe, Amosov laid heavy on Silva and meticulously maintained dominant position while delivering a topnotch beatdown to an exhausted Erick Silva.
Victor: Amosov, unanimous decision
Vitaly Minakov (21-1) vs. Cheick Kongo (30-10-2)
It was a disappointing 3rd fight of the main card with ex-UFC veteran Cheick Kongo taking on undefeated Vitaly Minakov. In what could have been an explosive fight between the two very experienced Heavyweights, we were forced to endure three overly slow and uneventful rounds.
The opening round of the match contained the most action, with some decent exchanges and good leg kicks from Kongo. I had the round scored 10-9 for Minakov, but it was definitely close enough to go either way. The next two rounds, in my opinion, were not.
Neither fighter generated much offense in the second round, with Minakov throwing punches out of range and Kongo not engaging at all, having Minakov pursue him as he backpedalled the entire round. The 3rd round started the same, but Minakov secured a takedown with top position, and from there he delivered some short but powerful punches, and attempted an unsuccessful Ezekiel choke. With mere seconds remaining, Kongo got to his feet and unloaded on Minakov, throwing more volume of strikes than he had in the previous two rounds.
As bad of a performance as it was for both Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov, it was apparently a worse night for the judges, with Kongo getting the unanimous decision, and even scoring a 30-27 along the way. Giving the fight to Kongo was bad enough, but giving him all three rounds was despicable.
Victor: Cheick Kongo, unanimous decision
Roy Nelson (37-12-2,1) vs. Mirko Cro Cop (24-16)
Ex-UFC greats Roy Nelson and Mirco Cro Cop faced eachother in the 2nd Heavyweight match of the night. Nelson definitely looked like the aggressor, using a smart and effective strategy against Cro Cop of constantly applying forward pressure and not allowing Cro Cop to come forward. Cro Cop dominated the clinch, landing a few brutal uppercuts, testing the durability of Nelson’s chin.
Nelson looked great, not only in striking with Cro Cop, but also his ability to apply forward pressure for 15 minutes, and having Cro Cop constantly defending against takedown attempts. Nelson finally secured a takedown in the last minute of the 3rd, but unfortunately didn’t have either the time or energy to capitalize much on it.
It was another questionable show of judging, not with Cro Cop getting the decision, but with one of the three judges marking the bout 30-27, as Nelson clearly dominated the 3rd round. Cro Cop got the nod in his Bellator debut, and the 44 year old ex-Croatian Special Forces officer showed the world that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the Heavyweight division.
Victor: Mirko Cro Cop, unanimous decision
Paul Daley (40-17-2) vs. Michael Page (14-0)
The main event of Bellator 216 could not have been any more disappointing, particularly because of the bad blood and lead up to Daley vs. MVP. This was the first fight in almost two decades of watching MMA that after three rounds, I was actually dreading the fact that there were two more to come.
Daley went the first round and a half without throwing a strike. In his defense, MVP wasn’t particularly active either, though he did display his unorthodox Karate-style with a couple kicks landing and a few flying knee attempts.
Near the end of the 2nd, Daley did what nobody expected (apparently MVP included and went for and secured a takedown. Daley must have liked what he saw from top position, because he spent the next three rounds trying to get MVP to the mat. Unfortunately, Daley wasn’t very effective from the position, doing just enough to accomplish what he thought would secure the round, but dealing hardly any damage to Page. Not that Page didn’t have his miscues as well, generating absolutely nothing off of his back during this time. He didn’t attempt any submissions, sweeps, and looked barely competent enough to escape off the ground.
Towards the end of the 4th, MVP connected with a huge flying knee and secured his first takedown of the match. Though not much, he did a bit more damage than Daley could from that position. Both fighters knew that it had to be 38-38 going into the 5th, and Daley began with a takedown. This time, he managed to get a few big punches in on Page. However, when it was MVP’s turn on top, he briefly got Daley’s back and attempted an unsuccessful rear naked choke.
After five lackadaisical rounds, the judges actually got this one spot on, with MVP winning the unanimous decision 48-47, advancing to face Douglas Lima in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix.
Victor: Michael Page, unanimous decision