GROCKE’S BELLATOR 183 REPORT: Results and analysis of the Henderson vs. Freire headlined main card


SEPTEMBER 23, 2017


Bellator MMA returned to the SAP Center in San Jose, California for Bellator 183. The main event featured former UFC champion Benson Henderson taking on Patricky “Pitbull” Freire. The co-main featured the debut of former UFC fighter and fan favorite Roy Nelson as he stepped into the Bellator cage for the first time to face hard hitting, Javy Ayala.

Also on the main card Paul Daley took on Lorenz Larkin, Adam Piccolotti vs. Goiti Yamauchi and top prospect Aaron Pico came in looking for his first win when he faced Justin Linn.

Here are the results with my analysis.


Main Card

(1) Goti Yamauchi (21-3) vs. Adam Piccolotti (9-0) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Result: Yamauchi defeated Piccolotti by Submission – Rear Naked Choke (3:19 of Round 1)

ROUND ONE: Yamauchi came out to start the fight and landed two nice head kicks and almost caught Piccolotti in a guillotine in the first minute of the fight. Yamauchi transitioned to an arm bar attempt but Piccolotti fought out of it with a little over three minutes to go in the round. Yamauchi took Piccolotti’s back with just under two minutes left and sunk in a rear naked choke. Yamauchi brought Piccolotti to the mat, flattened him out and that was it.

Grocke’s Point of Viiew: That was a Jiu-Jitsu clinic put on by Goti Yamauchi from start to finish. For Piccolotti it was his first loss and a learning experience. I think he will be a better fighter after suffering this loss. As for Goti Yamauchi, he tied Marcin Held with the most wins by submission in Bellator history (6). 

(2) Justin Linn (7-3) vs. Aaron Pico (0-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Result: Pico defeated Linn by Knockout (3:45 0f Round 1)

ROUND ONE: Linn tried to establish range by opening the fight with jabs. He landed one or two but Pico was able to quickly inside and took Linn down thirty seconds into the fight. The ref stood Linn up at the 3:40 mark and Pico went to town on Linn landing big shots with Linn’s back to the cage. Linn fought back and they reset with 3:14 to go in the opening round. Pico took Linn down and immediately and landed some heavy ground and pound. With 1:28 to go Pico stood and told Linn to get up. Pico blocked a head and then threw a right hand followed by a huge left hook that put Linn to sleep before he even hit the canvas. Kudos to Pico for recognizing Linn was out and not following him to the mat to inflict more damage.

Grocke’s Point of View: That knockout is right up there with the best of the year. Too bad we didn’t get this at Bellator NYC on PPV because if we did, Pico would have been an overnight star. This was a great rebound for the twenty-one year old, and hopefully he becomes the star Bellator desperately needs.

(3) Javy Ayala (10-5) vs. Roy Nelson (22-14) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

Result: Nelson defeated Ayala by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29, 28, 29-28)

ROUND ONE: Ayala brought it to Big Country early in the fight as Nelson got off to a slow start. Nelson scored with a timely take down with two minutes to go and was able to work his ground and pound. He had full mount with forty five seconds left in the round, but Ayala was able to get back to his feet with twenty seconds left. Ayala landed a big knee that looked to hurt Nelson as the opening round came to an end.

ROUND TWO: They traded big punches to open the second round until Nelson landed another take down forty five seconds in. Nelson worked ground and pound and took Ayala’s back, but Ayala was able to get back to his feet with just over two minutes to go. Ayala threw a front kick that landed flush on Nelson’s chin and followed with some heavy punches with 1:30 left. Big Country scored with another take down with a little over a minute left and landed some heavy ground and pound for the remainder of the round.

ROUND THREE: Ayala came out aggressively to open the last round applying heavy pressure on Nelson. Nelson took Ayala down with 3:33 left to go and basically laid on Ayala for the rest of the round. He decided to get active and started landing big shots as the round was ending.

Grocke’s point of View: Well color me surprised. I did not a grappling match from Roy “Big Country” Nelson, but that is exactly what we got. Ayala was the better fighter when the fight was on the feet, but Nelson’s take downs, Jiu Jitsu and top control won him the fight. I’m not sure what Nelson has left, but I’m a fan and I always look forward to his fights. 

(4) Lorenz Larkin (18-6) vs. Paul Daley (39-15-2) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Result: Daley defeated Larkin by Knockout (2:40 of Round 2)

ROUND ONE: Daley started the fight by throwing a heavy dose of kicks while Larkin started slow. Finally with 3:33 to go Larkin started to get active. With just over two minutes to go Larkin landed a nice combination that backed Daley up. Larkin landed another solid combo with 1:30 left in the round. Larkin landed a big right hand flush to the jaw of Daley who took it like a champ. With a minute to go Daley slipped while attempting a head kick giving Larkin the opportunity to establish side control. The round ended with Larkin landing right hands from on top.

ROUND TWO: Daley came out aggressively to open the second round knowing he probably lost the first round. Daley went for a take down with 3:33 to go but Larkin was able to use the cage to defend it. They traded knees and short punches in the clinch until separating with 3:12 left in the round. With three to go both fighters missed with some haymakers and then went back to the clinch against the fence. A big knee landed for Larkin with 2:28 to go, but Daley came right back with a left hook that put Larkin out on his feet. Daley followed Larkin to the ground and landed a few more punches before referee Beltran could cover up Lorenz Larkin.

Grocke’s Point of View: Larkin got caught with a perfectly timed left hook from Daley and it was lights out. The fight was evenly matched with both guys having their moments of success. This is a bad loss for Lorenz Larkin. He lost a lopsided decision to Douglas Lima in his Bellator debut and then gets knocked out by Paul Daley. Not that losing to Daley is an embarrassment, but we just saw him get dominated by Rory MacDonald so this puts Larkin way down on the pecking order of Ballator’s welterweight division.

(5) Patricky Freire (17-8) vs. Benson Henderson (24-7) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Result: Freire defeated Henderson by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) 

ROUND ONE: Henderson came out and started working the lead leg of Pitbull. Pitbull finally got his offense going by landing a nice right hand with 3:30 on the clock. Henderson landed a stiff right hand with 2:22 left in the round. There wasn’t a whole lot of action with each fighter landing one punch or kick but nothing to follow up with. Pitbull took an eye poke with 1:42 to go in the round, but he was able to continue. At the 2:17 mark Henderson went for a head kick and slipped in the process but he was back up instantly. The fight remained on the feet with neither fighter landing anything of significance.

ROUND TWO: Henderson shot in for a take down but Patricky sprawled nicely forty seconds into the round. Henderson sot in for a double with 3:37 to go and pinned Pitbull against the fence, but he couldn’t get the take down. Henderson kept Pitbull pinned to the fence until he switched position and landed a big knee to the head of Benson with 1:50 to go in the round. Henderson held onto a single leg while taking a few elbows and ran Patricky to the fence again. The fight remained in the clinch until Pitbull scored with a take down as the round ennded.

ROUND THREE: The fight was fought on the feet with neither fighter taking any significant damage until Henderson went for another single leg with 3:32 showing on the clock. Like all the previous attempts, Patricky was able to avoid getting taken down. Henderson looked to get caught with a stiff right hand that momentarily dropped him to a knee but he bounced right back up instantly. He then came back with two hard kicks to the body of Patricky. The action slowed with 2:32 left in the fight until they exchanged heavy right hands. With 1:46 Henderson shot in and ran Pitbull to the cage. They remained in the clinch until finally separating with forty-eight seconds left. Patricky landed a solid right hand on the break. Henderson landed with a heavy kick to the body of Pitbull, but Patricky responded with a knee to Henderson’s gut. They exchanged kicks as the fight ended.

Grocke’s Point of View: That was a tough fight to score. I had it 29-28 for Benson Henderson. As it was for Larkin, this is a terrible loss for Henderson. He is now 1-3 under the Bellator banner and was losing to Patricio Freire until Freire had to quit due to an injury. Not only is he 1-3, but none of his fights were fun to watch. He isn’t particularly an exciting fighter as the boos from the crowd here demonstrated. And like Larkin, this loss puts Henderson way down the ladder in the lightweight division. 

NOW CHECK OUT THIS LIVE REPORT: GROCKE’S UFC FIGHT NIGHT 117 LIVE REPORT 9/22: Saint Preux vs. Okami, Gadelha vs. Andrade, Gomi vs. Kim, Saki vs. da Silva, Ishihara vs. Dy, Formiga, vs. Sasaki

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