Gegard Mousasi said he worked so diligently to make himself a mixed martial arts champion, there was no way he could allow a loss to a smaller man, even if it was Bellator welterweight belt-wearer Rory MacDonald.
In a vivid Saturday night example of why weight classes exist, the middleweight champion imposed the force of his size advantage by getting atop MacDonald and finishing him with an assault of fists and elbows to the head, scoring a technical knockout in the main event of Bellator 206 at SAP Center.
Referee Herb Dean called it off 3 minutes 23 seconds into the second round because of unanswered strikes.
After getting routinely peppered by Mousasi’s jabs, Canada’s MacDonald (20-5) set up his own demise by opting to rush at Mousasi’s legs. The takedown wasn’t complete, and Mousasi (45-6-2) got atop MacDonald and swiftly bloodied his nose with punches.
MacDonald, the organization’s 170-pound champion, tried to squirm away and cover, to little avail as 185-pound champion Mousasi delivered hard elbows and a right fist that caused bleeding from MacDonald’s mouth. Mousasi maneuvered for a barrage of left elbows, and Dean had seen enough.
“The idea was to put pressure on him, make him shoot and then take over. So the game plan went about perfect,” Mousasi said.
While MacDonald will move to the Bellator welterweight grand prix that started Saturday with a likely 2019 first-round match against veteran Jon Fitch, Mousasi called out Rafael Lovato Jr. and former UFC champion Lyoto Machida.
The grand prix opener allowed Douglas Lima to erase some of the sting from his title loss to MacDonald this year at the Forum.
The Brazilian started his road back toward the strap with a thorough victory over former champion Andrey Koreshkov that closed with a fifth-round, rear-naked chokehold, putting Koreshkov to sleep a few seconds before referee Josh Rosenthal stopped it with 1:56 left.
“I saw he was slowing down a little bit and I was able to jump on it,” said Lima (30-7), who’s defeated Koreshkov in two of three meetings.
This victory leads Lima to a quarterfinal bout against the winner of the Paul Daley-Michael Page first-round fight.
While the bout had moments when it lulled in the first and fourth rounds — “It wasn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be,” Lima acknowledged — Lima struck Koreshkov with hard elbows and a powerful right hand in the second, and his leg kicks seemed to be damaging Koreshkov like they did MacDonald earlier this year.
As Koreshkov hobbled, Lima increased his aggression to close both the third and fourth, then pounded Koreshkov with punches after the Russian grabbed his legs in the fifth.
In January, MacDonald won the belt by surviving with a grisly hematoma, taking the fight to the canvas to burn off the final minutes. Lima didn’t allow that this time. Through maneuvering, he was under Koreshkov and applied the finish.
In the co-main event, heavyweight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, in his fourth meeting against Brazil’s Wanderlei Silva, used his extra 27 pounds to score a second-round TKO of his former rival in the shuttered Pride Fighting Championships.
Jackson (38-13) leaned into a massive right-handed punch that dropped Silva (35-14-1) to his knees late in the round, then stood over Silva and threw 13 more punches that convinced referee Mike Beltran to stop it.
Their series now tied 2-2, Irvine’s Jackson said, “I know Wanderlei can hit hard. My chin was tested tonight. I had a flashback.”
But while Silva sought to rely on activity against the larger man, Jackson found Silva with his cannon blows, wobbling the Brazilian late in the first and getting the better of another exchange earlier in the second.
Whittier featherweight prospect Aaron Pico, 22, unleashed repeated barrages on veteran Brazilian Leandro Higo (18-5) and claimed a dominant TKO at 3:19 of the first round.