Ryan Bader Eye Poke Leads to No Contest Against Cheick Kongo at Bellator 226

By: Mike Sloan
Sep 7, 2019
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Ryan Bader entered the main event of Bellator 226 as one of the hottest heavyweights in the world and his torrid streak continued on Saturday night. For a few minutes, that is.

Bader (28-5) retained his Bellator MMA heavyweight title after dominating fellow Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Cheick Kongo, but his win was as anticlimactic as they come. Bader rocked the Frenchman with two left hooks to the jaw and then took him down. Kongo (30-11-2) tried like crazy to get back to his feet, but the powerful wrestler used a tremendous amount of pressure to keep his challenger down.

However, with Bader on top against the cage, “Darth” accidentally poked Kongo in the left eye. From there, referee Mike Beltran called in the cageside doctor, who deemed Kongo unable to continue. With that ruling, since it was an accidental foul, the fight was declared a “No Contest,” allowing Bader to retain his title. The fight ended officially at 3:52 of the first.

Derek Campos had been on a three-fight losing streak entering Bellator’s Featherweight Grand Prix, but on Saturday he dominated former two-time 145-pound champ Daniel Straus (26-9) to end the skid. Campos (20-9) scored several takedowns, threatened with an assortment of submissions and won virtually every second of the fight. Straus could never get anything going offensively and appeared to have injured his right arm late in the third, and in the end, Campos won a lopsided unanimous decision. One judge favored “The Stallion” 30-26 while the other two saw it 30-25, allowing Campos to advance in the tournament.

Unbeaten contender Adam Borics (14-0) remained perfect as a fighter with a solid win over longtime veteran Pat Curran. The two fought at a measured pace for nearly two full rounds, leaving the crowd groaning for violence. But when “The Kid” blasted Curran (23-9) with a switch knee to the head late in the second, he unloaded a tidal wave of punches, elbows and hammerfists onto the downed “Paddy Mike.” Curran was blocking most of the Hungarian’s attacks, but just as the bell sounded to end the frame, referee Frank Trigg intervened, ending the bout with a tick left on the clock in the second.

Rising contender Pedro Carvalho was impressive as he scored arguably the biggest win of his career in vanquishing veteran Sam Sicilia in the second. The two landed powerful punches during their featherweight showdown, but once the Portuguese grappler seized Sicilia’s back in the second, it was all but over. Carvalho (11-3) slipped his arms across his foe’s face and squeezed until Sicilia (17-10) tapped out to a face crank. The end came officially at 1:56 of the second, allowing Carvalho to move on the second round of the tournament.

Emmanuel Sanchez was superb in the opening bout of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix as he submitted Tywan Claxton in the second round. Claxton (5-1) scored multiple takedowns in the contest, but when he landed in side control early in the second, “El Matador” slid his legs over to put the Cleveland fighter into a crucifix. Sanchez (19-5) attempted an inverted triangle from that position but had to switch up his legs and hips to lock in the traditional triangle from off his back. Claxton tried his best to fight through it, but once Sanchez slid to his right to tighten the choke, “Air” Claxton had no choice but to tap out. The end came officially at 4:11 of the second.

In the opening bout of the main card, it was featherweight Daniel Carey who prevailed in a sizable upset as he submitted Gaston Bolanos late in the opening round. Bolanos, a three-time champion in muay Thai and Lion Fight veteran, began the fight using his excellent striking skillset to keep a distance and pick “Scary” Carey apart on the outside. However, Bolanos (5-2) ducked his head down too low and allowed Carey (7-3) to lock in a standing guillotine. From there, Carey dropped to his back and sunk it in deep, eventually putting Bolanos to sleep. The technical submission win came officially at 4:19 of the frame, giving the Oklahoman his biggest MMA win to date.

The preliminary card was a smorgasbord of submissions, knockouts and decisions. Welterweight Renato Alves subbed Abraham Vaesau via rear-naked choke at 3:36 of the third; 170-pounder Batsumberel Dagvadorj forced James Terry to tap due to a bulldog choke at 2:43 of the first; bantamweight Cass Bell put Isaiah Rocha to sleep with a guillotine in just 81 seconds; featherweight Jessica Borga locked up Amber Leibrock in a textbook armbar at 4:45 of the first; and lightweight Adam Piccolotti submitted Jake Smith via second-round rear-naked choke at the 2:34 mark.

The lone prelim knockout came when John “Macapa” Teixeira da Concericao stopped fellow featherweight Ashleigh Grimshaw when the fight was halted between rounds two and three due to severe cuts. In terms of decisions, lightweight Chris Gonzalez defeated Luis Vargas via unanimous nod, and featherweight Hyder Amil won via split verdict over Ignacio Ortiz.

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