The Bellator 277 main card started hot, but ended up fizzling out in the main and co-main events. The featured matchup saw Patricio “Pitbull” Freire win a questionable unanimous decision over AJ McKee to win back his featherweight belt. There weren’t a lot of wow moments in this one, but it did seem like McKee did the better work across five-frames, landing 40-more strikes and being the only one hitting some takedowns. Regardless of the numbers, Pitbull is once again a Bellator champ, but how did you score it?
Before that, the Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix turned out rather anticlimactically after an accidental clash of heads occurred in the third round — resulting in Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson being declared a no contest. Bellator’s 205-pound belt stays with Nemkov, and no million dollar payout was rewarded. You have to believe that they will be running this one back as soon as possible to produce a winner of the Grand Prix. This is such a bummer for all parties involved.
Also on the main card, the ever-dangerous Aaron Pico put on a striking and wrestling clinic against short-notice opponent, Adli Edwards, ultimately coming up with the third round stoppage. Pico hit just about all of his takedowns, unleashed a bunch of ground strikes, and landed several devastating hooks on the feet to the body and head. This makes six wins in a row for Pico, who is looking as complete and dominant as he ever has.
The Bellator 277 main card opened up with a bang when Linton Vassell overcame being rocked and dropped to rally and stop Tim Johnson with ground strikes, all in the opening round. The former 205-pounder in Vassell now owns four consecutive heavyweight wins, three of which came by ground and pound. Has Linton positioned himself for a crack at the heavyweight belt?
Patricio Pitbull Freire def. AJ McKee by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47 x2): Featherweight Title
The bout started and McKee dashed across the cage to land a side kick to the midsection of Pitbull. That energy quickly slowed down as McKee and Pitbull began to feel one another out. From range, McKee was launching a variety of kicks, but wasn’t connecting with a lot of them. Pitbull was being reserved, staying defensively responsible and not giving his opponent much to work with.
The second stanza began with the fighters standing at the same distance apart as most of the opening round. One would throw, and then the other would go, but they were struggling to land flush on one another. Things picked up a bit towards the end of the round when McKee began opening up more, and Pitbull went after his counters. McKee also tried a couple of takedown attempts, but Pitbull stuffed them all.
The round started sticky, with some more feeling out going on. Pitbull came up with a big punch that staggered McKee, but gave up a takedown in the process. McKee started to grind on Pitbull, but found himself caught deep in a guillotine attempt. Somehow McKee was able to pop his head out, and went right to attacking the neck just before the bell.
The fourth frame kicked off with a slower pace just like the first and second rounds. There was a lot of feinting going on, and a lot of measuring. McKee was sneaking in several crosses down the pipe, catching Pitbull looking. The round ended with McKee botching a takedown with Pitbull sprawling on him.
McKee shot in for a takedown early in the final round, forcing Pitbull to try and use the cage to get up. On the break, McKee landed a nasty forwards and backwards elbow, letting Pitbull know he is dangerous in the phase shifts. Back in open space, McKee was back to using his straight punches to pierce through the guard of Pitbull. Down the stretch, Pitbull started to push forward, but McKee stuck to his straight punches, followed by another takedown. The match ended with McKee landing some nasty blows in the clinch against the fence.
Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson ended in a no contest at of round 3: Light Heavyweight Title
Nemkov got to kicking right away, and even buckled Anderson with one to the leg. Corey was looking to work his boxing, standing in the center and coming forward. Nemkov closed the distance against the cage, but was unable to get the takedown. Anderson then had his turn at trying to get the fight to the floor, but Vadim was able to stay vertical and return to open space.
Anderson went right for the takedown in the second stanza, and was able to put Nemkov on his back. Nemkov tried to scramble out, but Anderson was doing a sound job of controlling from the top. It wasn’t until there was less than a minute to go in the seocnd round that Nemkov was able to explode up to his feet.
Nemkov came out popping his jab to begin third round, but Anderson returned to his takedown to get on top. Anderson fought off a brief guillotine, and then returned to enjoying top position. A cut opened up after an accidental clash of heads as Anderson was throwing a ground strike. The referee stopped the action to bring in a doctor to check the cut, and the fight was waived off.
Aaron Pico def. Adli Edwards by TKO at :55 of round 3: 150-pounds
Pico hit an early single leg to plant Edwards on his back in the center of the cage. Several elbows came crashing down, but Edwards was able to scramble up to his feet. Up and down Edwards went, while getting peppered with boxing whenever he was on his feet. Pico was in total control and looking as dominant as ever.
The one way traffic continued into the seocnd stanza, with Pico styling with his hands while snagging takedowns at will. Edwards kept trying to improve his position, and kept scrambling back to his feet, but there were vicious body hooks waiting for him there. The takedowns of Pico were almost merciful. The third act was when the onslaught became too much for Edwards. Pico unleashed more hooks to the body and head that had Edwards shelling up on the ground, and had the referee stepping in to stop it.
Linton Vassell def. Tim Johnson by TKO at 4:21 of round 1: Heavyweight
Johnson was looking to close the distance right away, utilizing his dirty boxing against he cage. Vassell would escape into open space and then launch some kicks from the outside. Johnson connected with some hammers that dropped Vassell, so he pounced in an attempt to finish. Vassell was able to survive the swarm and scramble into top position, and began dropping some devastating elbows. Johnson went belly-down, and the Vassell dropped punches until the referee had seen enough.
- Tyson Miller def. Rhalan Gracie by KO at 5:00 of round 1: Welterweight
- Tyrell Fortune def. Rakim Cleveland by KO at 1:38 of round 1: Heavyweight
- Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov def. Rafael Carvalho by KO at 4:04 of round 2: Light Heavyweight
- Bobby Seronio III def. Calob Ramirez by KO at 2:14 of round 2: Bantamweight
- Gaston Bolanos def. Daniel Carey by KO at 4:59 of round 1: Featherweight
- Kyle Crutchmer def. Michael Lombardo by unanimous decision: Welterweight
- Edwin De Los Santos def. Alberto Mendez by unanimous decision: Flyweight
- Rogelio Luna def. Socrates Hernandez by KO at 4:48 of round 3: Featherweight
- Laird Anderson def. JT Donaldson by submission (RNC) at 2:44 of round 1: Featherweight
- Theo Haig def. Alan Benson by submission (RNC) at 2:08 of round 1: Light Heavyweight