An electric, packed house was on hand Saturday night to bear witness to Bellator MMA’s inaugural international event, “Bellator 152: Pitbull vs. Souza,” at Italy’s largest indoor arena, The Pala Alpitour. The venue, which housed several events during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, provided an incredible atmosphere for the historic card.
In the main event of the evening, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (16-7) welcomed Kevin Souza (15-5) to Bellator MMA with a unanimous decision loss (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). The matchup between the two Brazillians was well contested, as Souza took the fight on short notice after replacing Derek Campos because of injury only a week ago. “Pitbull” spent much of the bout trying to figure out his opponent’s unorthodox style, but in the third and final round, “Pitbull” was able to score a couple solid shots and a takedown to cement his position on the scorecards.
Few fighters can inspire a nation the way that Rome’s Alessio Sakara (18-11) had his Italian countrymen rooting for him tonight. The support paid off, as “Legionarius” got the better of Brian Rogers (12-9) in a slugfest for the ages. Crisp, precise, power-punches connected with Rogers putting him on the canvas, forcing the TKO stoppage at 2:29 of round two and making Sakai’s Bellator debut one to remember.
DIVISION ON LOCK? MCKEE’S GOT THE KEY
One of MMA’s hottest prospects, A.J. McKee (4-0) defeated Milan’s Danilo Belluardo (5-2) in front of his home crowd on Friday. Although the audience was raucous in support for Belluardo, they cheered with great appreciation for McKee’s performance and sportsmanship following his victory. During his fight against J.T. Donaldson at “Bellator 147: Thomson vs. Villaseca,” McKee was cut above the eye, the sight of his own blood seemed to cause the 20-year-old to hit the turbo button. Similarly tonight, McKee was on the wrong side of an accidental low blow and after a short resting period, “Mercenary” came out swinging with a torrid pace, ultimately connecting with a left kick to the ribs of Belluardo that sent him falling to the mat. The referee gave him a moment to defend himself but McKee rained down an efficient flurry of ground and pound, earning the TKO at 2:44 of the very first frame. Sending a message to Scott Coker and the very deep Bellator featherweight division that he means business, McKee said in his post-fight interview: “If you ain’t got the belt, I ain’t got my eye on you.”
A STAR IS BORN IN ANASTASIA YANKOVA
Anastasia Yankova (3-0) quickly fought her way into a full mount against Anjela Pink (0-1) and applied a slick armbar submission to hand Pink a loss in her professional debut at 1:35 of the opening round. The young Russian striker has had the Italian fans clamoring to see her in action all week long, and had them on their feet celebrating her first-round victory. Yankova has now finished all of her professional MMA fights via submission and after the bout made it clear that she will be in action sooner, rather than later, “I promise to come back soon and have my second fight in Bellator, Yankova said. “It is really great to be a part of Bellator, I feel really happy.”
HOMETOWN HEROES IMPRESS IN BELLATOR DEBUT
Two Italian competitors who regularly compete with Oktagon, Daniele Scatizzi (7-2) and Daniele Miceli (2-1) kicked things off at “Bellator 152: Pitbull vs. Souza” with a fast paced featherweight scrap. Scatizzi was able to secure a dominant position on Miceli’s back, sinking his hooks in and raining down unanswered strikes, forcing referee “Big John” McCarthy to call a stop to the action at 3:20 of round one and declaring Rome’s Scatizzi victorious by TKO.