Six Biggest Takeaways From Bellator 198, Including Signs Of Life From Fedor Emelianenko

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Bellator 198 gave us another semifinalist in the heavyweight grand prix plus an anticipated pro debut.

What were the big lessons to come out of Saturday’s Paramount-televised event at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.?

1. If you squinted just right, it almost looked like the Fedor of old

How does that country song go again? Fedor Emelianenko (37-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) may not be as good as he once was, but he’s as good once as he ever was. At least, he was this time against Frank Mir (18-12 MMA, 0-1 BMMA).

It’s probably a good thing for Emelianenko (and for fans) that this didn’t stretch on into a lengthy affair, but in short bursts early on he’s still a potentially scary heavyweight.

Now he’ll likely get his takedown defense tested by Chael Sonnen in the grand prix semifinals, which seems like a matchup that the Emelianenko of a decade ago would have cruised through. These days, however, they all seem like they could go either way for “The Last Emperor.”

2. With Mir out, the grand prix is a wide open field

He was one of the biggest and (somehow) youngest fighters in the tournament, which made Mir seem like a potential frontrunner to win it all. Then he spent 48 seconds in the cage with Emelianenko and woke up on his face.

That leaves Matt Mitrione as the only true big man left in this thing, so maybe it’s not so unthinkable to picture a light heavyweight walking away as the Bellator heavyweight champ in the end. I’m not sure if that’s a statement on the whole division, or just who Bellator had to work with here. It does make things interesting, though.

3. What do you think the sunsets look like in whatever world Dillon Danis lives in?

After his quick submission win over Kyle Walker (2-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) to kick off the main card, Dillon Danis (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) claimed that he had carried this whole fight card on his back, essentially taking credit for it being one of the biggest events in Bellator history. He also criticized the rest of his peers as “bums,” and threw out Ben Askren’s name as a potential next opponent.

That’s pretty ambitious for a 1-0 fighter who just beat an opponent with a losing record. I get that Danis’ thing is to talk himself up in an attempt to be the Conor McGregor of Bellator, but at times he just seems like a parody of that self-promotional model. Maybe let’s see him pull this off against someone who wasn’t hired to lose before we get too excited.

4. On a good night for submissions, Lovato Jr.’s was prettiest

His transition to the armbar was smooth, and the finish was downright nasty. It also came against an accomplished opponent in Gerald Harris (23-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who took the bout on short notice but had still never been submitted in 30 outings as a pro. Bellator is going to have to find some more interesting challenges for Rafael Lovato Jr. (8-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA).

The good news is, after Bellator 198 there are going to be more people eager to see how he handles them.

5. Did you catch McCarthy’s USADA dig?

As Mir walked to the cage for the main event, former referee turned Bellator commentator “Big” John referenced Mir’s exit from the UFC after a positive steroid test, seemingly suggesting that USADA’s results are unreliable. That’s a little misleading. While some fighters have been popped for banned substances that they were later found to have ingested via contaminated supplements, USADA has done a pretty good job of hearing that argument out and getting to the bottom of it.

You can criticize how it’s handled some of the punishments, but there’s no evidence to suggest that totally innocent fighters are getting nailed for substances they didn’t ingest – intentionally or otherwise. I get the desire to pump up Mir now that he’s in Bellator, but let’s not get carried away acting like he didn’t get the same chance everyone else does to launch a believable defense.

6. Three fights in, the grand prix is actually a lot of fun

Sure, we all had jokes when Bellator first trotted this idea out. A bunch of old guys, half of whom aren’t even really heavyweights, and we’re supposed to take it seriously? It’s true that the winner of this thing won’t be regarded as the world’s best heavyweight, but don’t sit there and act like you’re not enjoying this.

The UFC might be scared of going all in on a tournament, but company president Scott Coker sure isn’t. It was among his most memorable efforts with Strikeforce, and it’s turning out to be a weirdly good time for Bellator too. If nothing else, it gets people talking. It gets them to treat a Bellator event like must-see TV, which doesn’t happen all that often.

There’s still a lot that can go wrong – especially with guys this size and age – but so far the ride has been well worth it.

For more on Bellator 198, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Source : https://mmajunkie.com/2018/04/bellator-198-six-takeaways-fedor-emelianenko-frank-mir-mma

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Six biggest takeaways from Bellator 198, including signs of life from Fedor Emelianenko
Frank Mir