A near-double knockout turned into a thunderous victory for Matt Mitrione over Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator NYC on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Mitrione put the legendary Russian heavyweight out cold with ground strikes at 1:14 of the first round, moments after he was nearly knocked out himself.
About a minute into the fight, both men threw heavy right hands and connected, each falling to the canvas after contact and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“I didn’t know we both dropped, I looked up and oh (expletive) he’s on his back,” Mitrione said.
Mitrione got up first and swarmed. Emelianenko tried to take Mitrione down, but the former Giants defensive tackle kept him from securing hold, eventually getting Emelianenko to his back and throwing the finishing strikes.
“He’s really, really good,” Mitrione said. “He’s easily the best person I’ve ever fought.”
Emelianenko said through a translator that he would be interested in a rematch.
Mitrione acknowledged Emelianenko's legacy, but wasn't overwhelmed by the moment.
“It means I got paid, that’s about it.” Mitrione said. “It means I’ve got another fight in a couple of months and I can’t wait to get started on another guy.”
Furniture salesman beats top prospect
Much-hyped prospect Aaron Pico waited more than two years to make his professional MMA debut.
It was over in 24 seconds.
The wrestling prodigy was submitted by Zach Freeman via guillotine choke in the first round at Bellator NYC on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, stunning a crowd expecting to see a coming-out party for Bellator’s top prospect.
Freeman stunned Pico with a punch early that sent the fight to the canvas. He grabbed hold of the neck and pulled guard, securing the choke and forcing Pico into a quick tap.
“This means a lot to me,” Freeman said. “I’ve worked hard too, I just haven’t had quite the opportunities that others have, but I had the opportunity and I made it count.”
Freeman, a commercial furniture salesman during daytime hours, moves to 9-2 in his professional career with the win in his Bellator debut.
Bum ankle costs Chandler title
Michael Chandler heard the loudest and most favorable ovation from the Bellator NYC crowd at MSG. It came during his post-fight interview, the one where he went second after losing his title.
Brent Primus busted up Chandler’s left ankle early in the first round, but the lightweight champion continued to fight. He kept his left ankle in front, as is customary in his orthodox stance, and Primus kept peppering it every chance he could get.
Chandler’s ankle gave out on his several times as he fell to ground untouched a couple times as he tried to move around. At the 2:22 mark of the first round, the referee paused the fight for Chandler to receive medical attention. The bout was stopped after NYSAC’s cageside doctors examined him, and Primus was crowned the new Bellator lightweight champion.
“Cut if off,” Chandler said in his post-fight interview. “I’ll keep going.”
At Madison Square Garden
Chael Sonnen def. Wanderlei Silva by unanimous decision, 30-26, 30-27, 30-27.
Matt Mitrione def. Fedor Emelianenko by KO (punches), Round 1, 1:14.
Champion Douglas Lima def. Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision, 50-45, 48-47, 48-47.
Challenger Brent Primus def. Michael Chandler (injury), Round 1, 2:22
Light heavyweight championship
Challenger Ryan Bader def. Phil Davis by split decision, 49-46, 47-48, 49-46.
Zach Freeman sub. Aaron Pico via D’Arce choke, Round 1, 0:24.
Neiman Gracie sub. Dave Marfone by rear naked choke, Round 2, 2:27.
James Gallagher sub. Chinzo Machida by rear naked choke, Round 1, 2:22.
Heather Hardy def. Alice Yauger by TKO, Round 3, 4:47.
Ryan Couture beat Haim Gozali by unanimous decision, 30-26, 30-27, 30-27.
Bradley Desir beat Nate Grebb by KO (punches), Round 1, 2:54.
Anthony Giacchina sub. Jerome Mickle by rear naked choke, Round 3, 3:40.
Matt Rizzo sub. Sergio Da Silva by arm triangle choke, Round 3, 3:48.
Hugh McKenna sub. John Salgado by kimura, Round 1, 4:06.