InterMat Wrestling – Bader, Hager first-round winners at Bellator 214

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Former collegiate wrestlers Ryan Bader and Jake Hager made short of work of their respective rivals at Bellator 214 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Saturday night … while two other fighters with amateur wrestling credentials — Aaron Pico and A.J. Agazarm — lost their bouts.

Bader KOs Fedor, becomes Bellator’s first two-division champ

Ryan Bader (Photo/Bellator)

Arizona State mat great Ryan Bader won the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix in just over a half-minute, scoring a knockout of 42-year-old Fedor Emelianenko in the main event at Bellator 214.

“Ryan Bader only needed two punches to become the first two-division champion in Bellator MMA history,” wrote Sherdog.com.

“The first punch to land — a lead left hook from Bader — sent ‘The Last Emperor’ to the canvas instantly.

“As the dazed Russian attempted to sit up, Bader tagged his foe with a stiff right hand, essentially ending the contest. Bader landed a couple more hammerfists before referee Mike Beltran was able to intervene just 35 seconds after the bout began.”

“Bader, the promotion’s reigning 205-pound (light-heavyweight) titleholder, became the first simultaneous two-division champion in Bellator history with a first-round knockout of the greatest heavyweight the sport has ever known,” according to CBS Sports.

After winning the Bellator heavyweight (265-pound) crown, Bader — a former NCAA All- American wrestler for the Sun Devils — paid respect to his fallen foe.

“I was trying to keep it away [during introductions] but it crept up there that I was fighting Fedor, one of the greatest of all time,” Bader said. “It’s surreal. I have a ton of respect for him to where he’s at and to keep fighting but what a night.”

With the win, Bader, 35, is now 37-5 in his pro MMA career, and 5-0 in Bellator … while Emelianenko falls to 38-6 overall, and 2-2 in Bellator.

Hager makes winning MMA debut

Jake Hager — an Oklahoma high school state champion wrestler and NCAA All-American heavyweight for the Oklahoma Sooners who made a name for himself in the WWE as Jack Swagger — came out the winner in the first round of his first appearance for Bellator.

“Hager got his chin tested early on as his opponent JW Kiser cracked the former WWE champ with a solid right hand,” wrote LowKickMMA.com. “But then Hager instinctively grabbed ahold of Kiser and the fight was essentially over at that point.

“The All-American wrestler got Kiser to the ground and delivered some hard elbows that softened Kiser up. Hager worked for a kimura but decided instead on an arm triangle choke.”

The end for Kiser came at 2:09 of Round One.

“I was trying to slow everything down in my mind,” Hager said. “Keep control, I wanted to lay on him all day. I knew I was gonna get that big elbow in there, I just had to keep my posture. It was just a matter of time before I got that arm-triangle in there.”

The 36-year-old Hager is now 1-0 in his MMA/Bellator debut … while Kiser drops to 0-2 overall, and 0-1 in Bellator.

Pico lasts a bit more than a minute in his loss

Aaron Pico suffered yet another devastating first-round loss in his young MMA career, as the 22-year old former amateur wrestling phenom fell to Henry Corrales by TKO at 67 seconds of the opening round of their featherweight (145-pound) bout.

CBS Sports wrote, “After Corrales was floored early by a right uppercut, the 32-year-old instantly regained his feet and forced Pico into a brawl from the clinch. His short right hand caught Pico flush on the chin and Corrales added a two-punch combo as Pico, who was already unconscious, fell backwards.

“Pico, a native of Whittier, California, who was signed by Bellator while still in high school, was considered the greatest prospect in the sport’s history when he suffered a shocking upset loss via submission in his 2017 pro debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden,” CBS continued. “This loss, however, was far more disastrous as Pico’s trademark aggressiveness proved to be his undoing.”

“What’s done is done,” Corrales said after the bout. “Respect to Pico and all his people in the crowd.”

Pico is now 4-2 in his pro MMA career (all with Bellator) while Corrales improves to 17-3 overall and 5-3 in Bellator competition.

Ex-Buckeye Agazarm loses split decision

In a preliminary bout, A.J. Agazarm had his Bellator debut spoiled by another newcomer, Jesse Roberts, in a 160-pound catchweight bout.

Here’s how Sherdog.com described the match:

“A solid sprawl and the ability to land clean straight punches on the feet carried Roberts to a split-decision triumph (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over the former Ohio State University wrestler. Agazarm, a Gracie-Barra black belt with numerous grappling accolades, was able to take his opponent’s back on two occasions but couldn’t capitalize enough on the positions to sway the cageside judges.”

Agazarm is now 0-1 in his overall MMA career and in Bellator, while Roberts is now 1-0 in both MMA and Bellator.





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