Bellator 208 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
On Saturday night, Long Island, New York, hosted a hodgepodge of some of MMA's most notorious names.
Bellator 208 was the event, and if you know anything about the Bellator brand, you weren't surprised to see a card topped by some of the greatest gray legends of the sport.
The main event epitomized it. In the semifinals of the promotion's heavyweight grand prix, 42-year-old Russian icon Fedor Emelianenko battled the fast-talking and slower-walking 41-year-old Chael Sonnen. The winner earned the right to face Ryan Bader, who looked 11 kinds of impressive when he dominated Matt Mitrione the night before at Bellator 207.
Remember Benson Henderson? The former UFC lightweight kingpin faced homegrown Bellator knockout artist Saad Awad in the co-main event.
Former UFC heavyweight mainstays Cheick Kongo (age 43) and Timothy Johnson (a spry 33) were the next bout down.
How did it all go? Did the Russian bear roar—or whatever bears do? Did the Bad Guy break out a little friend? As always, the final stat lines do not reveal all. These are the real winners and losers from Bellator 208.
Winner: Fedor Emelianenko
The old dog still has some tricks up his sleeve.
The great Fedor Emelianenko, long past his prime, still had enough power in his hands to send Chael Sonnen out of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. The end came with punches in the closing seconds of the first round.
It was an entertaining, back-and-forth brawl between the former Pride champ and the former UFC title challenger. Emelianenko knocked down a charging Sonnen early. Sonnen landed some offense, including a nice slam takedown, but Emelianenko got him down and finished him with ground strikes.
Emelianenko moves on to face Bader early next year. Then we will see who really has the tricks.
Loser: Benson Henderson
Another Benson Henderson win, another missed opportunity to make a big impression.
The former UFC lightweight champion was impressive in a three-round drubbing of knockout artist Saad Awad, but the same old tactics—mashing against the fence, extended leg kicks from range for point-scoring purposes—left a bland taste in the audience's mouth.
That's two wins in a row, though, for the 34-year-old Henderson. He's still a great fighter, and he will have other chances. Awad was a good stepping stone.
Winner: Anatoly Tokov
Prospect watchers had eyes on Anatoly Tokov five years ago. As he worked through the Russian and European circuits, the middleweight striker racked up a 26-2 record, including two Ws on lower-profile Bellator engagements.
Make no mistake: Saturday was Tokov's coming-out party. The 28-year-old faced a Russian legend in Alexander Shlemenko and handled him in each round. Although there were no emphatic highlights along the lines of those fans of both fighters have come to expect, Tokov used takedowns, ground expertise and clinch control to impose his will over the course of 15 minutes.
Shlemenko has a 56-12 (1) pro record but has now dropped three straight. He may not have a lot of title fights in his future, but he did his job Saturday in putting over the new Russian stud.
The tiny country, made up of more than 600 islands, sent a grand total of five athletes to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Jennifer Chieng carried her nation's flag during the opening ceremony.
Sadly, Chieng lost to American Mikaela Mayer in the opening round, but she didn't give up. That was evidenced by her appearance on this Bellator undercard and her first-round knockout of Jessica Ruiz. It was her MMA debut, and she acquitted herself well. If nothing else, in most people's eyes, she is the best Micronesian MMA fighter around.
Bellator matchmakers had a hot hand Saturday night.
Stoppages are king, and of the 13-fight card, eight ended in stoppages and seven ended in knockouts. The main event was the most emphatic of the bunch, but they occurred up and down the slate.
If you're looking for a deep cut, look back at Zarrukh Adashev's knee-strike ruining of Christian Medina. It took a grand total of 68 seconds.
Bellator 208 Full Card Results
Fedor Emelianenko def. Chael Sonnen by TKO, 4:46, Rd. 1
Benson Henderson def. Saad Awad by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Cheick Kongo def. Timothy Johnson by KO, 1:08, Rd. 1
Anatoly Tokov def. Alexander Shlemenko by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Henry Corrales def. Andy Main by KO, 2:08, Rd. 3
Jeremy Puglia def. Eric Olsen by TKO, 3:16, Rd. 1
Dennis Buzukia def. Ryan Castro by KO, 2:53, Rd. 1
Andrews Rodriguez def. Mike Diorio by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Zarrukh Adashev def. Christian Medina by TKO, 1:08, Rd. 1
Jennifer Chieng def. Jessica Ruiz by TKO, 1:22, Rd. 1
David Meshkhoradze def. Shaquan Moore by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
Tommy Espinosa def. Suhrob Aidarbekov by submission (armbar), 1:27, Rd. 1
Nick Fiore def. Jerome Mickle by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Scott Harris writes about MMA and other things for Bleacher Report and CNN.