Ryan Bader Bashes Linton Vassell to Retain Light Heavyweight Title in Bellator 186 Headliner

By: Brian Knapp
Nov 3, 2017

Linton Vassell was no match for Ryan Bader.

Bader disposed of the Englishman with second-round punches to retain the Bellator MMA light heavyweight championship in the Bellator 186 headliner on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania. Vassell (18-6, 7-3 Bellator) succumbed to unanswered blows 3:58 into Round 2.

The systematic champion could not have been more dominant. Bader (24-5, 2-0 Bellator) managed to stomach a handful of leg kicks, executed a beautiful lateral drop and scored with another takedown in the first round, consolidating his efforts with positional control and ground-and-pound. Perhaps sensing the growing frustration in a wilting Vassell, he delivered two more takedowns in Round 2, where he climbed to an advantageous position, clamped down on the challenger’s wrist and pummeled him with unabated left hands until referee Keith Peterson had seen enough.

Bader, 34, has won four fights in a row.

Related » Bellator 186 Round-by-Round Scoring

In the co-main event, undefeated Team Hurricane Awesome export Ilima-Lei Macfarlane dispatched Emily Ducote with a fifth-round triangle armbar to claim the inaugural Bellator women’s flyweight championship. Ducote (6-3, 4-2 Bellator) verbally submitted 3:42 into Round 5, her modest two-fight winning streak having run its course.

Macfarlane (7-0, 6-0 Bellator) did much of her work on the feet, as she ripped into her counterpart with simple 1-2s, clinch knees to the body and well-conceived punching volleys. The 27-year-old Hawaiian mixed in the occasional Superman punch and executed takedowns in the first and third rounds. Off-balance and out of sorts, Ducote’s measurable offense was limited to leg kicks. Ahead on the scorecards entering the fifth round, Macfarlane drew the Oklahoman into her guard following a failed lateral drop. Ducote soon found herself entangled in a triangle, her arm hopelessly extended. With that, she signaled for referee Dan Miragliotta to intervene and her bid to become champion was done.

Meanwhile, Alliance MMA rep Phil Davis won for the fifth time in six appearances, as he captured a unanimous decision from the previously unbeaten Leonardo Leite in a three-round feature at 205 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Davis (18-4, 5-1 Bellator), who was a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler and 2008 national champion at Penn State University.

Leite (10-1, 0-1 Bellator) was outmatched in all phases. Davis picked apart the two-time Olympic judoka with a stinging jab, sneaky overhand lefts and kicks to the legs, body and head. “Mr. Wonderful” also handled Leite in the grappling exchanges and worked over the 39-year-old in the clinch, as he pinned him to the cage and assaulted him with knees to the body.

Elsewhere, Ed Ruth remained unbeaten and did so in devastating fashion, as he knocked out Chris Dempsey with a chopping right hand in the second round of their middleweight showcase. Dempsey (11-6, 0-1 Bellator) met his end 27 seconds into Round 2, the UFC veteran suffering his fourth consecutive defeat.

A four-time NCAA All-American and three-time national champion at Penn State, Ruth (4-0, 4-0 Bellator) had no issues navigating the challenge in front of him. The 27-year-old scrambled to Dempsey’s back in the first round and eventually advanced to full mount, unleashing his ground-and-pound while threatening with the occasional arm-triangle. Early in the middle stanza, Ruth showed off his punching power and sent a right hand crashing into the side of his counterpart’s head. Dempsey hit the deck, and it was immediately apparent that no follow-up shots were necessary.

In other action, four-time NCAA All-American Logan Storley took a unanimous decision from Matt Secor in a three-round pairing at 170 pounds, earning 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 marks from the judges; Saad Awad put away Zach Freeman with punches 1:07 into the first round of their lightweight matchup; Dominic Mazzotta was awarded a technical knockout via doctor stoppage over Matthew Lozano 2:37 into the second round of their bantamweight encounter; Tywan Claxton knocked out Jonny Bonilla-Bowman with a flying knee 1:29 into the first round of their affair at 145 pounds; Michael Trizano submitted Mike Otwell with an anaconda choke 2:07 into the second round of their featherweight tilt; Mike Wilkins submitted Brett Martinez with a rear-naked choke 69 seconds into the second round of their catchweight confrontation at 165 pounds; Frank Buenafuente claimed a unanimous verdict from Francis Healy in their three-round featherweight battle, sweeping the cards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scores; Andrew Salas eked out a split decision -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 -- over Ethan Goss in their three-round tussle at 145 pounds; Joshua Fremd submitted Ryan Parker with a rear-naked choke 1:25 into the second round of their middleweight clash; and Scott Clymer wiped out Michael Benjamin Putnam with punches 3:07 into the first round of their catchweight booking at 150 pounds.

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