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Bellator 168 recap: Alessio Sakara vs. Joey Beltran ends quickly and violently

Bellator 168

Bellator MMA ran its second show of the year in Italy in front of a packed crowd live on Spike TV in North America. In one of the most entertaining televised MMA shows you'll ever see, Alessio Sakara capped the night off by stopping veteran Joey Beltran in the first round to send the Florence, Italy, faithful home happy.

The crowd had been fairly quiet all night, but they exploded during the ring intros for Sakara and even more so when he scored the TKO win over Beltran just a minute into the first round. In a wide-open light heavyweight division, Bellator could do worse than having Phil Davis defend his title against Sakara the next time they're in Italy. 

The show started off rough for the local fans as Italian fighter Claudio Annicchiarico was TKOd by veteran John Salter in just his second pro fight. Salter had just coming off a stoppage victory over former middleweight champion Brandon Halsey so this was a complete mismatch. The fight was very similar to the Mickey Gall/CM Punk match in that Salter took him down easily and pummeled him to almost no defence before it was mercifully stopped. 

The locals got something to cheer for in the second TV fight as Brazilian Kleber Silva, who lives in and fights out of Florence, went up against veteran Philipe Lins. Lins, hyped as a future contender for Davis, came in with a 10-1 record and looked good in the first round, although Silva held his own and I thought landed the harder blows. I scored it 10-9 Silva.

In the second, Lins was starting to take over, pushing the pace and landing far more on the feet. Halfway through the round, Silva rocked Lins during a crazy punch exchange. He was on rubber legs after that and Silva was all over him. The ref gave Lins a lot of time to recover but eventually had to stop it.

After this fight, the cameras showed Ed Ruth warming up backstage. Announcer Sean Grande, a pro wrestling fan, played it up like he had no idea why Ruth was there, given he'd just fought a month ago. Ruth agreed to the fight a week ago and was up against another Italian fighter, Emanuele Palombi (5-2).

The fight went very similar to the first fight in that Ruth took him down easily and finished him with ground and pound. Palombi put up a bit more of a fight but still was stopped in just 1:33 to give Ruth his second pro win.

Next up was one of the best one round fights you'll ever see as Goiti Yamauchi, one of the young stars that Bellator is pushing as the future of the company, went up against another local in Valeriu Mircea. Mircea is listed with a pro record of 15-3 but made his pro debut in February 2015. That means this was his 19th fight in just 22 months. Crazy.

Even crazier is that Mircea knocked down Yamauchi early and pummelled him on the ground to where ref Jason Herzog was on the verge of stopping it. Yamauchi stayed in there and then turned the fight around. He eventually was working on an armbar and Mircea tried to slam him out of it. He escaped it but Yamauchi was able to sweep into top position and gain mount.

Yamauchi was dropping hard elbows and when Mircea tried to escape, Yamauchi caught him in another armbar and got the quick tap. 

After the fight, Yamauchi said he wants one of the top lightweights in his next fight. Really, he should get someone like Patricky Pitbull or Saad Awad as he's got a 21-3 record and should probably be only 1 or 2 wins from a title shot. 

The main event followed between Sakara and Beltran. It was just over a minute with both guys throwing with everything they had until Sakara connected and hurt Beltran badly. He was all over him with ground and pound and the ref stepped in to stop it quickly.

The building was packed, all the fights were finishes and you even had the great comeback win from Yamauchi. There wasn't much more you could ask for from this show and for casual sports fans channel surfing on a Saturday afternoon, a show like this could make Bellator some new fans.

Next up is their last show of the year from Dublin, Ireland next Friday night as King Mo takes on Satoshi Ishii in the main event.