Benson Henderson got his first win with Bellator on Friday night against Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, but it didn't happen the way most would have wanted.
During the second round, Pitbull suffered a right leg injury that prevented him from continuing. The result was a technical-knockout victory for Henderson in a bout that had the fans on hand for Bellator 160 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, booing.
There didn't appear to be much contact, but Pitbull may have planted wrong after attempting a kick. Nonetheless, Henderson will move on to receive a title shot against lightweight champion Michael Chandler on Nov. 19.
MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani summed up most of the MMA community's thoughts:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Unfortunate ending to Benson v Pitbull, but in the end Benson gets his much-needed 1st Bellator win. Now faces the champ Chandler on 11/19.2016-8-27 04:13:18
Aside from the anticlimactic ending of a much-anticipated fight, this was also a terrible way to end what had been an entertaining main card.
In the co-main event, Derek Anderson outdueled veteran Saad Awad via unanimous decision. Anderson and Awad both had their moments, but the striking of the former—who used his reach effectively—earned the victory.
Awad couldn't find a way to get inside Anderson's reach after the first round. Anderson has now won two fights in a row and could be in position to challenge for the lightweight belt in the near future.
Here's a look at the post-fight press conference, which also includes news on the signing of Rory MacDonald as the promotion's latest free-agent acquisition, via Bellator:
- Benson Henderson def. Patricio "Pitbull" Freire via second-round TKO.
- A.J. McKee def. via second-round submission (power guillotine).
- def via TKO (punches).
- def. unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
- def via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
- via first-round TKO (punches).
- def. Marlo Navarro via first-round TKO (punches).
- def. Mike Segura via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
McKee Continues to Impress
A.J. McKee is one of the most well-rounded prospects in the sport, and he proved that again Friday. No opponent in Bellator had made it into the second round against him before Friday. Cody Walker accomplished that, but he wasn't around much longer.
After a dominant performance in the first round that consisted mostly of ground-and-pound strikes, McKee quickly finished Walker with a power guillotine choke in the opening minute of Round 2.
McKee wants a shot at 145-pound champion Daniel Straus, but the flamboyant star called out Pitbull.
"I've got a leash and a kennel waiting for you, Pitbull," he said on the Spike broadcast after his win.
With Pitbull suffering what appeared to be a serious injury, he'll likely be out of action for a while. We'll see which fighter Bellator serves up next for McKee.
Georgi Owns Bubba Jenkins
Sometimes a guy just has another fighter's number, and that's apparently the case with Georgiand his dominance of Bubba Jenkins.
When the two men met in January 2015,scored a first-round win via submission. He put Jenkins to sleep with a guillotine choke.
Jenkins was hungry for revenge, but he again suffered a first-round stoppage Friday. A vicious right hand that landed right on Jenkins' chin knocked him out cold.
Here's the finish, via Bellator:
Bellator MMA @BellatorMMA
.@georgimma is BACK!! #Bellator160 https://t.co/LZLiQG83l12016-8-27 02:49:58
had just caught a kick from Jenkins, and before he fully relinquished his opponent's leg, he fired the punch that ended the fight.
had lost two fights in a row since beating Jenkins the first time. This win will breathe new life into his career.
The loss is devastating for Jenkins. He'd won three in a row since losing tolast year. Now he'll have to regroup yet again.