Freire, 33, winner of the Bellator lightweight and featherweight titles, showed his striking and then grappling skills to defeat American challenger Emmanuel Sanchez in the first round of technical prep in the Bellator 255 main event and earn a record victory under the Bellator banner.
The fight was also the second semi-final of the World Heavyweight Grand Prix. The Brazilian has advanced to the final, where he will take on unbeaten American challenger AJ McKee for the undisputed title and $1 million (£723,000) in prize money.
Freire previously defeated Sanchez via unanimous decision in a previous title fight at Bellator 209 in Tel Aviv, Israel in November 2018. But in the rematch at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Brazilian gained punching power by applying a big left hand that put his opponent on the ground midway through the first round.
With Sanchez knocked out, the champion followed his man to the mat and applied a guillotine choke that knocked out the challenger at 3:35. This gave Pitbull his 20th win, a record. A win inside the Bellator cage and his 32nd career victory. Total victories. It was also the first time Sanchez ended his 25-fight career.
Speaking about the guillotine choke that gave him his seventh consecutive victory, Freire said: For me, it’s like a normal movement, it’s in my veins. This is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It’s a position I feel good about. So he was there, I saw his neck, and that was it.
After the fight, Freire and McKee exchanged heated words in anticipation of the Grand Prix final later this year. McKee, 25, has a perfect 17-0 record and has made no secret of his desire to beat Pitbull twice to win the featherweight and lightweight titles.
I told him I would bring a leash and a kennel, and that I was ready to take him to the shelter! he announced.
Jackson completestitle attempt
Jason Jackson’s nasty eye injury didn’t stop him from winning.
In the evening’s bantamweight fight, Jamaican Jason Jackson overcame a nasty eye injury in the middle of the fight to defeat former title challenger Neiman Gracie and move one step closer to a Bellator title fight at 170 pounds.
Jackson, 30, tackled Gracie’s fight well by reversing positions against the Brazilian and throwing more punches in their grueling three-round fight.
The fight ended almost halfway through the first round when Jackson got an eye on the cage barrier. After a short break during which the doctor examined his injury, Jackson was cleared to continue.
With his left eye visibly squeezed shut, Jackson came out of his corner in the second round with a big smile on his face and then struck with some solid punches as he hit the Brazilian with a leg kick and then a big right hand, showing that he was a very big factor in this fight.
While Gracie continued to threaten with takedowns and grappling, the Brazilian was unable to seriously threaten Jackson on the mat as Jackson continued to do clean work in the standing exchanges.
That striking distance proved decisive in the final standings, as all three judges on the field scored the match in favor of the Florida wrestler. At 29-28 on all three cards, Jackson improved his record to 14-4 and extended his Bellator win streak to four.
Nervous Nurmagomedov gets his firstwin.
Usman Nurmagomedov (right) defeats Mike Hamel during Bellator 255
Just two weeks after his cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov’s departure from MMA was confirmed, 22-year-old Usman Nurmagomedov made his Bellator debut and the Russian lightweight extended his perfect professional record with a victory over American Mike Hamel.
With the superstar’s cousin in his corner, Nurmagomedov looked calm and relaxed during his three-round fight in the 155-pound weight class. Hamel tried to step on the gas pedal, but couldn’t make a real impact.
Hamel’s willingness to continue and throw punches into Nurmagomedov’s arms and legs took the American out of the fight almost willingly, leaving Hamel’s face bloodied and bruised.
Hamel, who changed weight class to lightweight, was combative and energetic, but despite his best efforts he was unable to knock out the Makhachkala fighter. Nurmagomedov used his striking skills to earn a unanimous decision victory 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 and improve his career record to 12-0.
Cyborg’s next mission has been confirmed.
In addition to the action in the cage in Uncasville, it has also been confirmed that Bellator bantamweight champion Chris Cyborg will retain her 145-pound title against American Leslie Smith at Bellator 259 on the 21st. The month of May will be in play.
The two met in the UFC in May 2016, when Cyborg scored a TKO victory in the first round in a fight that Smith said ended prematurely. Today, under the Bellator banner, both women are fighting for the title once again.
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