Bellator 192 was headlined with two main events on Saturday to introduce the re-branded Paramount network. The main events included the first fight in the Heavyweight Grand Prix and another bloody war for the “Red King” crowning him the new welterweight champion. In the process of dethroning Douglas Lima, MacDonald suffered a shin injury when he was swept off his feet with a powerful outside leg kick in the third round. MacDonald was able to see out the fight avoiding lengthy periods of standing and striking with all three judges scoring 48-47, 49-45 and 49-46. Following his post-fight interview, MacDonald was carried out of the cage and transferred to the hospital. He later posted to social media in good spirits
“This is truly a dream come true, I set out on this martial arts journey when I was 14 years old and without any doubt I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the grace of Jesus Christ. He humbled me to be ready to receive this belt. I give all the glory for this moment to him, for my beautiful family, my friends and supporters.”
It’s not determined how long Rory MacDonald will be in recovery but fellow welterweights are already showing interest in facing the new champion for his first title defense. Lorenz Larkin sat cage side and mentioned that he’d like a shot against the fellow former UFC employee. Larkin has had a rough start with Bellator but he believes a win next weekend at Bellator 193 can get him back in title talk. A frustrated Paul Daley said that he’d be watching this fight closely as he’d like to face either opponent for a rematch. Daley posted some heat to social media this week after president Scott Coker mentioned that he has plans to keep Michael Venom Page active in the cage this year.Could a title shot turn Daley’s frown upside down?
The first of the double main events gave us plenty to talk about but a three-round clash between Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson proved why it was chosen to close the show. The Los Angeles Forum peaked with classic boos for Sonnen following a standing applause for his opponent and it was clear who the crowd predicted victorious.Sonnen spoke all week of a game plan to wrestle Jackson to the ground but he surprised us with moments on the feet.When asked about it at the press conference,
“I always try to punch my way in to get close and set them up.I work on that stuff every day, I had dreams of pursuing boxing back in 2000 but I chose wrestling. I think I box more then any of these guys have, I used to competitively box”.
After edging out a win via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Chael advances to the next round in the Heavyweight Grand Prix. He says it was nice to start the tournament as he’ll have the most time for recovery.
In the chance that one of the six veterans does get injured, Scott Coker announced the first two of several alternates. Cheick Kongo(27-10-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) and Javy Ayala (10-6 MMA, 5-3 BMMA) were the first names that came to mind. Kongo, a natural heavyweight on a five-fight streak was chosen once Rampage was eliminated. Scott Coker mentioned –
“He and ‘Rampage’ are good friends and training partners, and the decision was not to put him in the tournament because of their relationship,”
Fresh faced Javy Ayala last fought at Bellator 183 in an exciting back and forth against Grand Prix opponent Roy Nelson. Javy Ayala spoke to MMAUK once news broke,
“I feel great, I feel all my hard work is paying off now and people are starting to notice that I’m a top contender.I would like to fight any of them.They are all very talented and legends of in the sport.”
Next in line for the tournament is former UFC champ Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) vs. ex-PRIDE FC title holder Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who meet in April. Earlier this week Frank and Fedor spoke about their upcoming bout,
“I was sitting on my back porch, smoking a cigar and I get the phone call you’re fighting Fedor and I think my exact words were, can we pick again?You realize I haven’t fought in two years right?So I sat and mulled it over for a few more minutes and thought that’s a good idea I agree with it.Out of anybody there I need to fight Fedor, I have to fight Fedor.That’s a fight that has to happen before I retire before he retires.”
Fedor spoke about the importance of the tournament and how it ranks just as highly to him as any other he’s participated in.
“As far as what happens after the tournament, time will tell. I’m enjoying myself now and I’m fighting for myself not to rebuild a legacy or prove anything to anyone.Right now I’m just having fun, I’d like to continue fighting because it’s fun for me.”
When told that Rampage had given up ketchup to get in shape for the Grand Prix Fedor said that he’s never had to change his diet but that he doesn’t drink Coca-Cola and that’s why his cardio has always been on point.
There was one more star of the night in prospect Aaron Pico who picked up another KO win via brutal body shot just 37 seconds into the first round. Scott Coker said in the press conference that now we are seeing the athlete the company invested in three years ago. Aaron graciously credits his move to Team Bodyshop MMA with coach Antonio McKee saying that the two just click. MMA UK asked Aaron if he’s itching to show some of his ground skills after back to back knockouts and he responded –
“I’ll show them when I have to.”
Aaron is a decorated martial artist with a folk style, freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling background. He’s also trained with Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.