Preview by Josh Nason
For the first time since April 2014, the Bellator heavyweight title will be defended.
Saturday's Bellator 226 from San Jose, CA, is headlined by heavyweight champion Ryan Bader defending against Cheick Kongo, coincidentally the man who last competed for the title back in April 2014 when he was defeated by then-champion Vitaly Minakov.
Bader defeated Fedor Emelianenko in the finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix earlier this year to win the belt, completing a tournament in which two of the bouts lasted less than 35 seconds. Kongo, a fixture in Bellator since 2013, is riding an eight fight win streak.
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The event also features the kickoff of the Featherweight Grtand Prix with four fights including former champion Daniel Strauss vs. Derek Campos, former champion Pat Curran vs. undefeated prospect Adam Borics, undefeated prospect Tywan Claxton vs. Emmanuel Sanchez, and Sam Sicilia vs. Pedro Carvalho.
The main card will air exclusively on DAZN starting at 10 PM Eastern.
By Dave Meltzer
DANIEL CAREY (6-3) VS. GASTON BOLANOS (5-1), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: Bolanos is the bigger crowd favorite. They are both from Northern California. Slow open. Bolanos thowing some low kicks. He landed two punches. Both very cautious. Front kick by Bolanos. Left landed by Bolanos. Bolanos pushed him against the fence. Carey grabbed a jumping guillotine and it's over.. 4:19
Carey did a spoof of a call-out, challenging Chael Sonnen. He laughed because obvously there's about 60 pounds difference there.
The next four fights are all featherweight tournament first round fights. This tournament will continue in three weeks in Los Angeles and will take up to a year to finish.
EMMANUEL SANCHEZ (18-4) VS. TYWAN CLAXTON (5-0), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: Sanchez came out twisting his nipples like Rashad Evans and rolling his wrist like Wanderlei Silva. He missed a flying knee right away. Claxton with the takedown and drove him into the cage. Knee by Claxton as he tried another takedown but didn't get it. Another takedown by Claxton. Claxton mostly wrestling him, and not getting many shots in. Sanchex is back up. Now Sanchez took Claxton down and got mount. Sanchez had him in trouble when time ran out. Sanchez nearly took the round by winning the last few seconds but I've got Claxton 10-9 in the first.'
Second round: Claxton tried a jumpng knee but it didn't land. Both are going for a takedown and neither got it. Sanchez has Claxton pushed up agiasn the fence. Sanchez tried some stomping on the foot. Claxton got the takedown. Sanchez is working on a triagnle and punching Claxton as well. Claxton escaped. Sanchez is back working for the triangle. Sanchez is landing a ton of elbows while holding the triangle. The ref stopped the fight. Sanchez moves to the quarterfinals. 4:11.
SAM SICILIA (17-9) VS. PEDRO CARVALHO (10-3), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: Siciala slipped throwing a high kick. Body kick by Cafrvalho. Another body kick by Caval;ho and he landed a punch. Sicilia got the takedown. Sicilia stacked him up. Now Sicilia has got his back and is working for a choke. Sicilia landed punches after Carvahlo got up. Sicliia took him down again. Sicilia got his back again. Carvalho reversed to the top. Carvalho working or a guillotine. Now Siciilia is in troube. Sicilia escaped. Carvalho is still on top throwing some punches as the round ended. 10-9 Carvalho
Second round: Nice left and body kiclk by Carlvalho. Sicilia missed on punches. Body kick by Carvalho. Carvalho with a left and Siciilia missed a backfist. Nice left by Carvalho. Another left landed by Carvalho. Sicilia landed some good punches. Hard body kick by Carvalho. Carvalho got the takedown. Now Carvalho has Sicilia's back. He's working for a choke. It looked more like neck crank and Sicilia tapped out. 1:06
PAT CURRAN (23-8) VS. ADAM BORICS (13-0), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: Borics is coming off his knockout win over Aaron Pico. Curran is a two-time Bellator champion. Hard low kicks by Borics. Borics with more low kicks. He missed a spinning kick. Head kick by Borics. Slow round. Borics landed a right. Borics tried a jumping kick but it didn't land. Lots of Ric Flair's Whoo's all over the place with little happening. Borics 10-9.
Second round: Still little happening. Fans are starting to boo now. Now they are booing loudly. Borics is at least the more aggressive in not landing much past some low kicks Borics landeed a knee that dropped Curran and got his back. Borics is landing a lot of punches from the toip on the gorund. Borics is now landing big punches and elbows on the ground as time is running out. It really can be stopped now. Time ran out but ref Frank Trigg waved it off right after the round ended. 4:59
DEREK CAMPOS (19-9) VS. DANIEL STRAUS (26-8), FEATHERWEIGHTS
First round: Straus slipped throwing a high kick and Campos jumped on top. Campos on top wrestling him but not doing any damage. Campos landing some body punches but still mostly just rode out the round. 10-8 Campos.
Second round: Campos took him right down. Same as round one. Campos is on top and just wrestling him. He threw a quick elbow. Fans are starting to boo. Campos is throwing body punches. Campos is in full mount. He landed enough to keep busy but never had Straus in trouble of being finished. Still, complete domination, 20-16 Campos.
Third round: Campos got another takedown. Campos moved to mount and now working for a head and arm choke. Straus hasn't been able to get up the entire fight. It's as one-sided a long fight as you'll see. Straus finally got up with 29 seocnds left. Straus hurt his shoudler, Campos threw a jumping kick, landed a punch and Campos threw Straus down. Campos tried to do a cartwheel guard pass to entertain fans as time ran out. 30-24 Campos.
Scores: 30-26, 30-25, 30-25 for Campos
This was more Straus doing nothing than Campos looking great. It's hard to tell who was the best of tonight's four winners, but it seemed to be Sanchez.'
RYAN BADER (27-5) VS. CHEICK KONGO (30-10-2) FOR BELLATOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
First round: Bader landed a good left. Bader landd another one. Kongo tried for a takedown. Bader with a knee ana another knee and punches. Bader with a left. Bader got the takedown. Bader moved to side control. Bader moved to mount. Bader is keeping Kongo down. Bader got his finger in Kongo's eye. The ref saw it and stopped the action. The doctor came in. Koingo was having trouble seeing. Bader actaully got him in one eye and then the other. Bader was in complete control when this happened. It was ruled a no contest. Talk about anti-climactic. 3:50
Bader said he didnt' know his finger went in the eye.