Fighter's Planet weekend recap
Ryan Bader destroys mixed martial arts legend Fedor Emelianenko in 35 seconds to notch a milestone win over the living legend and add the Bellator heavyweight championship in the process.
Bader (27-5) went into the final of the heavyweight gran prix as the betting favorite, but nostalgic fans in attendance and in the sport were sheepishly hoping for one last magical moment from Fedor to cap a historic career and ride off into retirement as the Bellator heavyweight champion but it was not meant to be.
Emelianenko ( 38-6) is obviously in the finishing stage of his fighting career, but while his speed and reflexes are not what they used to be, his power was still something that he could count on and might have been his only reasonable option to win this fight.
Bader caught The Last Emperor with a left hook that stunned Fedor who dropped like dead weight right away before referee Mike Beltran was able to intervene, allowing Bader to land another flush shot to end the bout in the very first round and claim the vacant heavyweight title.
Bader becomes the first fighter in Bellator history to hold championships in two weight classes simultaneously
The title fight was the main event of Bellator 214 held at the Forum in Los Angeles and concluded the thrilling Heavyweight Gran Prix tournament that lasted over a year.
Bellator president declared at the post-fight press conference that he will allow Bader to defend both belts.
After not earning a title shot in the UFC, Bader is now 5-0 in Bellator.
Bader will seek to maximize his momentum with Bellator into a new lucrative fight contract.
As for Emelianenko, a victory to claim another championship would have been the story book ending anyone could have hoped for, but a loss doesn’t diminish any of his accomplishments.
It’s difficult to envision Emelianenko continuing to compete, but it will ultimately be his decision to make and as Coker reiterated, he has nothing left to prove.
Bader’s highlight knockout would normally be the climax on most fight cards, but on a night that saw four of the five fights on the main card end in the very first round, Bader was somewhat upstaged by the stunning comeback knockout of Henry Corrales over uber-prospect Aaron Pico.
Corrales (17-3) survived an uppercut from Pico that dropped Corrales, who seemed in trouble before somehow shaking off the blow to land a flush right hand to the chin of Pico (4-2) that immediately froze the popular Pico. Another follow-up shot by Corrales sealed the deal and Corrales picked up his fifth straight win and appears on the door step of a title shot.
Pico along with Scott Coker will have to reevaluate their strategy for Pico, 22, who is still very young and has time on his side to make adjustments and improvements and his future still appears bright.
Both Coker and Pico were insinuating a title shot might be on the horizon for Pico, but that plan is dead for now.
Former WWE star Jake Hager (1-0) made his MMA debut and controlled the fight from the beginning before securing a takedown. He was able to lock in an arm triangle and end the fight quickly in the very first round.
Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez
World Boxing Association Super World Welterweight champion Keith Thurman made his anticipated return to the ring after being inactive for over 22 months dealing with serious injuries.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) looked razor sharp following the long layoff and was able to control the action against an always tough out in Lopez (36-7).
Thurman was able to secure a knockdown in the second round, but also took some solid punishment in the seventh round when Lopez was able to land some flush right hands and go on the attack throughout the round, but was unable to finish Thurman, who went on score a unanimous decision by the scores of 117-109, 115-111, & 113-113 in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions on Fox card, held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Thurman has a lot of options on the table now that he has returned to full health and a showdown with WBA secondary title-holder and massive fan favorite, Manny Pacquiao, seems to make the most sense.
Jaime Munguia vs. Takeshi Inoue
World Boxing Organization junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 knockouts) continued his winning streak by outpointing Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7 KOs) by scores of 120-108, 120-108, & 119-109 for Munguia, but the scorecards are a little misleading as Inoue was the aggressor for most of the fight, but Munguia, of Tijuana, Mexico, was able to adjust in the later rounds and did enough to win the fight.