Emmanuel Sanchez freed himself from a grapple late in the third round and let loose with a series of hammerfists, to which Georgi Karakhanyan stuck out his tongue at his opponent, as if to say the strikes were impotent.
It was a frustrating night for Sanchez as Karakhanyan did his best to muddy up the fight, taking it to the ground and grappling as much as possible. Sanchez adjusted, however; he got the edge on the ground while still managing to score enough strikes to win by unanimous decision (29-28 on all three cards) at Bellator 218 from the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., on Friday.
“Not a good decision for him, not a good idea,” Sanchez said during his postfight interview of Karakhanyan’s game plan to get the fight to the ground. “He didn’t want to fight me tonight. He just wanted to hold me down.
“I’m sorry, everybody,” Sanchez said to the crowd. “I came here to knock him out. I came here to finish.”
Friday night’s main event was the opposite of the fight the featherweights had at Bellator 170 in January 2017, when Sanchez won by majority decision in a bout that had a lot more standup action.
In Friday’s first round, Karakhanyan bottled up Sanchez’s all-action striking by getting him on the ground, grappling and grinding him out for a majority of the frame. The second round started the same way — on the ground and with Karakhanyan having the edge — but the referee stood the fighters up, which gave Sanchez the daylight he needed to land some punches before scoring a takedown of his own. Sanchez took Karakhanyan’s back and spent about three minutes trying to cinch in a choke, to no avail, though he clearly won the round.
The third round also had Sanchez seizing the edge on the ground. He sneaked in enough punches, including a late left hand and the hammerfists, to earn the points needed to take the fight.
Sanchez improved his record to 18-4 and recorded his 10th Bellator victory.
Co-main event: Valentin Moldavsky def. Linton Vassell by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27); heavyweights
Vassell took the first round and Moldavsky battled back to snatch the second. With things knotted up and the heavyweight tilt in the balance, Moldavsky got top position on Vassell early into Round 3 and proceeded to grind him out on the ground en route to the decision, giving Team Fedor yet another victory on the night.
Other main card results
- Anatoly Tokov def. Gerald Harris via second-round submission (guillotine choke); middleweights
- Norbert Novenyi Jr. def. Will Lavine by second-round submission (head and arm choke); middleweights
Preliminary card results
- Deborah Kouzmin def. Ky Bennett by unanimous decision
- Johnny Eblen def. Chauncey Foxworth via unanimous decision
- John Teixeira def. Kevin Croom by unanimous decision
- Jordan Newman def. Joseph Holmes via unanimous decision
- Vladimir Tokov def. Ryan Walker by unanimous decision
- Victoria Leonardo def. Malin Hermansson via first-round submission (armbar)