Preview by Josh Nason
Bellator returns to San Jose, CA, for the first time since the failed Fedor vs. Matt Mitrione fight with an entertaining live card on Spike TV featuring a former UFC lightweight champion, a fan favorite, and a prospect looking to reclaim his buzz after a disastrous debut.
In the main event, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson returns to action against Patricky "Pitbull" Freire. Coming off a loss to lightweight champion Michael Chandler in November 2016, the 33-year-old is looking to get his name back in the mix after a strange 1-2 start to his Bellator career. Freire has won three of his last four and is coming off a convincing second round knockout of Josh Thomson in February. He is looking to avenge his brother's loss to Henderson in 2016 although it was an injury that stopped the fight.
Former UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson makes his promotional debut against Javy Ayala, winner of his last two by first round T/KO. Nelson is 3-5 since 2014 and hasn't won two in a row since last 2012-13. At 41, this is his last chance.
Also on the show, you'll get what promises to be an entertaining welterweight tilt between Paul Daley and Lorenz Larkin with both guys looking for some redemption after their last outings. Additionally, uber prospect Aaron Pico looks to redeem himself after a terrible debut outing at the promotion's MSG debut against Justin Linn, a fighter who hasn't competed since April 2016.
Dave Meltzer will have your main card live coverage from cageside tonight.
ADAM PICCOLOTTI (9-0) VS. GOITI YAMAUCHI (21-3), LIGHTWEIGHTS
First round: Low kick by Yamaguchi and another. Piccolotti in with pucnhes. Jumping knee and guillotine by Yamauchi. Piccolotti escaped and is on top. . Yamaguchi going for an uma plata. Yamaguchi now has his back standing. Yamauchi with a knee. Yamauchi tried a German suplex but blocked. Yamauchi jumped on his back and has a choke. Piccolotti had to tap out. Yamauchi was just superior in the grappling game. 3:19
AARON PICO (0-1) VS. JJSSTIN LINN (7-3), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: No reaction to Pico, what a difference one big loss makes in your debut. Linn is relaxed. Pico nervous as hell. Pico with a high takedown. Pico unloaded with several punches. Pico let him up. Linn landed punches. Pico is just overwhelming him with punches. Linn stayed up from the barrage. The crowd is going nuts. Another takedown by Pico. Pico with more punches and elbows on the ground. Pico let him up again. Pico knocked him cold with al left hook. 3:45
Linn is in real bad shape from that knockout. The stretcher is out and this is genuinely scary.
Linn was able to get up on his own. He was down for a few minutes.
This was Pico's 21st birthday.
Pico vowed that he would win the title.
ROY NELSON (22-14) VS. JAVY AYALA (10-5), LARGE HEAVYWEIGHTS
First round: Ayala has a fan base coming from Porterville, CA. Nelson got a nice reaction. Ayala hurt him with a knee. Nice uppercut by Ayala. Ayala with two punches. He's a step faster than Nelson. Nelson was thinking takedown. He's going for it. Nelson got him down. Nelson is landing punches on the ground. Nelson with punches to the body. Nelson is remembering his Jiu Jitsu and moved to full mount. Ayala escaped and back up and landing knees and elbows. Nelson tied him up. Hard round to score. 10-9 Ayala
Second round: Crowd buzzing with the start of round two. Ayala with an elbow and head kick. Both trading punches. Nelson took him down again. Nelson landing punches on the ground. Nelson has his back now. Ayala reversed and up. Ayala took Nelson down and his his back. . Ayala let him up and kicked him in the head. Front kick by Ayala and Superman punch. Nelson with hard uppercuts. Nelson took him down again. People are loving this fight. Nelson landing a lot of elbows on the ground. Nelson's round for sure so 19-19 after two
Third round: Head kick and jumping knee by Ayala. Right uppercut by Ayala. Front kick by Ayala. Body kick by Nelson. Ayala landing and Nelson running away. Another takedown by Nelson. Nelson landing punches on the ground. Nelson moved to side control. Ayala tried to use the cage to get up but Nelson kept him down. Nelson with knees to the body. Nelson now landing a lot of punches on the ground. Nelson landing hard shots on the ground. 29-28 Nelson.
Scores: 30-26, 29-28, 29-28 Nelson
LORENZ LARKIN (18-6) VS PAUL DALEY (39-15-2), WELTERWEIGHTS
First round: These two went at it a weigh-ins yesterday. Low kick by Daley. Fans booing quickly. Trading low kicks. Good low kick by Larkin. Larkin in with punches. Larkin landed another flurry as the crowd booed. Daley threw a head kick and slipped and fell down. Larkin on top and Daley working for a triangle. Larkin moved to side control. Larkin dropping short elbows. Larkin with more punches on the ground. Larkin 10-9
Second round: Larkin with a body kick. They are tied up. Daley with a knee and threw punches. Daley tied up with him again. Left by Larkin. Daley hurt him with a left hook and knocked him out with a left to the temple. 2:40
He said the only people who have beaten him standing were Douglas Lima and Nick Diaz. He said if anyone else stands with him they'll get knocked out. Daley challenged Michael Page for England.
They are bringing out Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald to build up their fight at the Forum in Los Angeles on 1/20. MacDonald said he's a level above these guys.
BENSON HENDERSON (24-7) VS. PATRICKY PITBULL FREIRE (17-8), LIGHTWEIGHT
First round: Henderson with a body kick. Henderson landed a punch and slipped. Henderson with a Superman punch. Henderson went for a body kick but Pitbull caught the kick. Pitbull short on a spinning kick. Accidental eye poke by Henderson. Henderson went for a kick and missed and slipped. Pitbull went for a kick but it was blocked. Both trading. Very close round. Pitbull 10-9
Second round: Henderson landed a left. Henderson working for a takedown . Jumping knee by Pitbull and an elbow. Henderson has him tied up but isn't doing much. Fans are booing. Pitbull threw him down. Another close round. Henderson so 19-19 but you could go the other way in both of these rounds since nobody got any real advantage.
Third round: Henderson with a body kick. Henderson ducked for a takedown but didn't get it. Pitbull with body kicks. Knee by Pitbull. Henderson went for a takedown and didn't get it again. Pitbull dropped him to a knee with punch. Henderson with a hard body kick. Another body kick by Henderson. Pitbull hurt him again. Henderson landed a hard punch back. Head kick by Henderson. Henderson shooting for a takedown again. Crowd booing again. Right by Pitbull . Knee by Pitbull. Henderson is backing off in the closing seconds which isn't going to help him at all in another close round. Henderson backing off again as the round ended. Pitbull's round so I've got him winning 29-28.
Scores: 29-28 Henderson 29-28 Pitbull 29-28 Pitbull
Pitbull issued a challenge to Brett Primus for the title. Lackluster main event after a good undercard.