HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 207 and Bellator 208

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor

Fedor Emelianenko

Bellator ran two shows over the weekend featuring the semi-finals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix. Let’s get to the rundown.

Bellator 207

GOOD- Mandel Nallo stops Carrington Banks
The first round was close as neither man was able to gain a big advantage. That continued into the second round but then out of nowhere Nallo lands a huge flying knee that knocked Banks out. Great highlight reel win for Nallo.

GOOD- Corey Browning stops Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr.
Slice showed some good wrestling with his takedowns and such but he faded a bit and couldn’t really do much with them. That allowed Browning to tee off on him and he got the stoppage in the second round. Nice win for Browning.

BAD/GOOD- Lorenz Larkin vs. Ion Pascu
This was a nice fight in that it was fundamentally sound and smart, but it was just kind of there. To be blunt, it was lackluster. It was also smart, though. Larkin won the decision and is the alternate for the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix they’re also running. This was one of those smart wins that won’t earn you any fans but you have to get wins anyway you can. Good win for Larkin.

GOOD- Sergei Kharitonov stops Roy Nelson
Kharitonov worked his jab early while Nelson threw repeated haymakers. Nelson tried for a takedown but couldn’t get it and Kharitonov made him pay with some big shots and dropped him and got the stoppage just as the first round was about to end. Good win for Kharitonov.

BAD/GOOD- Ryan Bader vs. Matt Mitrione
This was another fundamentally sound and smart fight that was incredibly dull. In fact, this fight was worse than the Larkin-Pascu fight because Bader did even less than Larkin did in his fight. All credit to Bader, he had a gameplan and stuck to it beautifully but this fight sucked. The only reason I’m not going UGLY with this is because Bader was able to get a much larger man to the ground and keep him there the entire fight. He deserves credit for that.
However, if I’m being totally real here, this is one of the last fights you’d ever want to show a potential MMA fan. If you know someone who could possibly become a MMA fan, keep them far away from this fight. I literally had someone who was watching this card with me fall asleep during this fight. That pretty much sums it up. With this decision win, Bader goes on to face the winner of Bellator 208’s fight between Chael Sonnen and Fedor Emelianenko to crown the new Bellator Heavyweight Champion.

Bellator 208

GOOD- Henry Corrales stops Andy Main
This fight started slow and honestly, it stayed that way. Corrales methodically beat Main up before finishing him in the third round. I’m torn because I’m overall excited for this card because I want to see Fedor fight but I’m also wanting them to just hurry up and rush through all these other fights I really don’t care much for. That said, nice win for Corrales.

GOOD/BAD- Alexander Schlemenko vs. Anatoly Tokov
This fight was okay. My initial reaction was I didn’t care much for it, but as with the previous fight, I might be antsy because I want to get to the Fedor fight. Apparently at one point “Big” John McCarthy said something about Schlemenko having a better career than Fedor or something, but I had so many people over and we were all talking that we missed almost all the commentary for every fight. Sounds like that was a win for us. Tokov did a little better and was able to stifle Schlemenko and he got the decision win.

GOOD- Cheick Kongo stops Timothy Johnson
The end seemed to come out of nowhere, as Johnson got hit with something and feel forward and Kongo started teeing off on him as the ref jumped in. Maybe Johnson is the Reverse Samson and if he shaves off his old timey mustache he’ll get stronger and have a better chin? I don’t know, but it didn’t look like he got hit with anything, certainly not enough to drop him like that. Good win for Kongo.

BAD/GOOD- Benson Henderson vs. Saad Awad
This was your typical Benson Henderson fight. He controlled him and did enough to get the decision, but this won’t make any new fans and too many of these fights will actually drive away current fans. It was smart and sound, but damn it was boring. Henderson got the clear decision victory. Moving on…

GOOD- Fedor Emelianenko stops Chael Sonnen
Fedor dropped Sonnen immediately but Sonnen recovered and scored a few takedowns. He couldn’t do anything with them, though, because Fedor is way too good on the ground. This is exactly why I just had to shake my head at those saying that Sonnen could win this fight if he got Fedor to the ground because he could control him and all that. Those people were crazy for thinking that.

Fedor now moves on to face Ryan Bader in the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix. Now this is a fight that could play out the way some were thinking this one would. Bader could absolutely take Fedor down and keep him there. Bader is in his prime and he showed that he’s able to take down larger men. And Matt Matrione, the man Bader controlled in his win, is 20-30 pounds heavier than Fedor. Of course, Mitrione doesn’t have the grappling and judo/sambo that Fedor does, but Fedor is 42 years old. He’s not who he used to be. He looked good in this fight, though I do wonder about his cardio as he seemed to tire.

I think Bader-Fedor is a pick’em. I think it’s a toss up. You can absolutely make a case for Bader winning. I can see him taking Fedor down and tiring him out and grinding out another boring (but smart) decision. He also has enough power that he could tag Fedor and put him down. At the same time, you can make a case for Fedor winning. He’ll be able to stuff enough takedowns that he might be able to land a few big shots that could end the night for Bader early. He also has tremendous grappling and submissions. So this fight could play out a lot of different ways.

Even though I’m a big Fedor fan, I lean towards Bader winning this fight. Fedor is older and has slipped while Bader is in his prime. I’ll be rooting for Fedor but unless he’s able to get a hold of a time machine I just don’t think he’ll be able to win. It would be a tremendous moment if he pulls it off, though. It would be one of the best moments in MMA history, especially recently. They’ll fight in January, which can’t come soon enough.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

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