Ryan Bader made his first successful defense of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship on Friday night, defeating Linton Vassell in the main event of Bellator 186, which took place at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State.
Bader was pretty dominant in the title bout from the start, as he neutralized Vassell by bringing the fight to the ground. While Vassell scored a few shots to Bader’s left leg, his takedown attempt late in the first was stuffed by the champion.
Bader took his challenger down again seconds into the second round. Vassell gave up his back twice while trying to escape, and the second time saw Bader lay in a flurry of punches to the side of the head, which Vassell did not answer. The referee stopped the bout, giving the second-round TKO win and title to Bader.
“We knew if we got on top there wore him out a little bit [we’d win],” Bader said after the bout. “Got that little ride and started landing big bombs on him. That was awesome. The wrestling community is a tight community, I love you all. It was fun to fight here it felt like one of the old duels.”
The co-main event saw the crowning of the first-ever Bellator women’s flyweight champion, as Ilima-Lei Macfarlane won the honor and kept her unbeaten streak by defeating Emily Ducote. Macfarlane was aggressive early on with her striking, and she nearly got an armbar in before the end of the first round. Macfarlane also won the boxing battle in the second, though Ducote showed off her leg power by delivering some noteworthy kicks.
Macfarlane continued her stand-up match with Ducote throughout the third before successfully getting a takedown in before the end of the round. After outworking Ducote once more in the fourth, Macfarlane finished things late in the fifth round by locking in an armbar, forcing a verbal submission.
Penn State wrestling alumni Phil Davis and Ed Ruth also competed on the card, both coming out with victories. Davis, the former Bellator light heavyweight champion, swept the judges’ scorecards with a unanimous decision over Leonardo Leite, while Ruth scored a big knockout over Chris Dempsey early in the second to remain undefeated in his pro career — with all four of his bouts now coming in the Bellator cage.
Saad Awad scored a successful finish of his own in the opening bout of the main card, defeating Zach Freeman in a little over a minute.
Bellator 186 Results:
Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship: (c.) Ryan Bader def. Linton Vassell via TKO (Rd. 2, 3:58)
To determine the inaugural Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote via verbal submission (armbar) (Rd. 5, 3:42)
Light Heavyweight: Phil Davis def. Leo Leite via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Middleweight: Ed Ruth def. via KO (Rd. 2, 0:27)
Lightweight: Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman via TKO (Rd. 1, 1:07)