“The Last Emperor” turned back time on Saturday night.
The legendary Fedor Emelianenko electrified the crowd at Bellator 198 with a vintage finish of former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in the main event in the quarterfinal round of the Heavyweight World Grand Prix at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The time of the TKO stoppage was 48 seconds into the opening round.
The 41-year-old longtime former PRIDE heavyweight champion caught Mir with a wicked uppercut to the kisser as Mir moved forward. Mir dropped to the mat face-first, then ate a series of left hands to the face until referee Mike Beltran waved things off.
Emelianenko improved to 37-5 (1 no-contest) with the victory. He’s won six of his past seven fights. It also snapped a four-fight losing streak when fighting in the United States; Emelianenko’s last win here was a 2009 finish of Brett Rogers, which was also in the Chicago area.
Mir (18-12) was making his Bellator debut and fighting for the first time since a 2016 USADA suspension. He’s dropped three in a row and seven of his past nine.
With the victory, Emelianenko moves on to face Chael Sonnen in the semifinal round at a TBD date.
“I think the only thing I hate more than being in the cage in Chicago is being here with you and I assure the next time I am, it will not be for long,” Sonnen said in an interview in the cage.
In the co-feature bout, Emmanuel Sanchez continued his run up the Bellator featherweight division with an impressive finish of Sam Sicilia. After working for leglocks and kneebars on the ground, Sanchez locked a standing arm-triangle choke tight. Sicilia took it to the mat to try to shake Sanchez off, but eventually had no choice but to tap at the 3:52 mark of the opening round.
Sanchez, a Roufusport competitor, improved to 17-3 in his career with his fourth straight win and eighth in his past nine fights.
“Sam is the real deal, I’ve been watching him a long time and I knew he was a killer,” Sanchez said after his eighth career finish victory. “Anywhere the fight goes I am comfortable. I saw the [chance for] the arm triangle and I thought, ‘take it.’”
In a 188-pound catchweight bout, Rafael Lovato Jr. remained unbeaten with a first-round submission of Gerald Harris.
Harris (25-6) had come out of retirement to accept the fight on short notice this week when Lovato’s original middleweight opponent, John Salter, dropped out of the fight.
But Lovato gave him a rude welcome back to the sport. From the bottom, Lovato worked a bodylock which he attempted to turn into an arm triangle. Harris squirmed out, but soon thereafter found himself trapped in a nasty armbar. He submitted at the 1:11 mark of the opening round.
It was the fifth career submission win for Lovato (8-0), a former World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medalist.
“I had a high guard and I knew he felt the triangle, so when he pushed inside he gave me the opening for the armbar, and I rolled with it.”
Neiman Gracie (8-0) certainly continues to live up to the style his last name implies. The nephew of Renzo Gracie scored his seventh career submission victory and improved his record to 8-0 when he finished Javier Torres (10-4) in the second round of their welterweight bout. The time of the tap to the arm-triangle choke was 3:18.
Gracie, who improved to 6-0 in Bellator, said he’s beyond the point where he feels any pressure to live up to his famous name.
“I feel no more pressure man, I think the pressure was on those two guys, master Royce Gracie and master Renzo Gracie, Gracie said. “For me there is no pressure. I’m having fun.”>
Check out the Bellator 198 results below.
Fedor Emelianenko def. Frank Mir
Emmanuel Sanchez def. Sam Sicilia via submission (arm triangle) at 3:52 of R1
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Gerald Harris via submission (armbar) at 1:11 of R1
Neiman Gracie def. Javier Torres via submission (arm triangle) at 3:18 of R2
Dillon Danis def. Kyle Walker via submission (toehold) at 1:38 of R1