Ryan Bader is the first fighter to advance in the Bellator MMA light heavyweight grand prix.
The Bellator 256 main event saw Bader (28-6, 1 NC) get a chance at revenge against former Lyoto Machida, who knocked out "Darth" in 2012. Early on, the superior footwork of Machida (26-11) allowed him to stay away from Bader's right hand and land some hard kicks to the body. However, the wrestling of the American became a factor as the fight continued. The reigning Bellator heavyweight champion kept the Brazilian grounded and delivered constant punishment from top position during the final three rounds. An exhausted Machida had accepted his fate when the scorecards were read and Bader picked up scores of 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45.
Related » Bellator 256 Round-by-Round Scoring
The co-main event saw Liz Carmouche face fellow flyweight veteran Vanessa Porto. The clinch-heavy style of the "Girl-rilla" was fully on display as Carmouche (15-7) displayed her physical advantages against Porto (22-9) by repeatedly securing takedowns. Porto never backed down, but Carmouche was clearly the better fighter through three rounds. The judges ultimately awarded a unanimous decision verdict to the former UFC title challenger with scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Bellator featherweight contender Adam Borics kept his recent win streak intact against Jeremy Kennedy. Borics (17-1) outpointed Kennedy (16-3, 1 NC) throughout all three rounds and landed damaging leg kicks. The judges all preferred Borics' work and he took home scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 as a result. After the win, the Hungarian fighter expressed his desire for a title shot against the featherweight tournament winner.
Cat Zingano continued her winning ways in Bellator. After taking the fight to the ground, Zingano (12-4) managed to lock in an armbar on Olivia Parker. The pressure wound up being too much for Parker (4-2), who tapped out at 2:56 of Round 1. Zingano is now 2-0 inside her new promotional home.
The main card opened with a lightweight bout between Goiti Yamauchi and Dan Moret. Yamauchi (25-5) took the back of Moret (15-6) several times, but "The Hitman" proved difficult to submit. Despite the Japanese fighter clearly controlling most of the fight, and Sherdog scoring it 30-27 Yamauchi, the bout wound up being an inexplicable split decision that went to Moret (via scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28). Moret is now 1-0 inside the promotion.
In preliminary action, undefeated middleweight prospect Dalton Rosta (5-0) picked apart Tony Johnson (8-4) on the feet to get 30-27 scorecards from all three judges; Talita Nogueira (8-2) scored an easy decision win over Jessica Borga (3-3) despite a point deduction for blows to the back of Borga's head with all three judges scoring the fight 29-27; Jornel Lugo (6-0) dominated Cass Bell (5-2) en route to a unanimous decision win with scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27; Cody Law (3-0) outwrestled Nathan Ghareeb (2-1) over three rounds to pick up a dominant decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27); Jaylon Bates (2-0) submitted Jeffrey Glossner (2-2) with a Japanese necktie at 1:27 of Round 2; Nainoa Dung (4-2) outpointed Isaiah William (4-4) to a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28); Diana Avsaragova (3-0) scored a knockout win over Tara Graff (1-3) in just 29 seconds; and the superior grappling of John Douma (5-2) led to him earning a split decision over Will Smith (3-3) with scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.