Emelianenko Crushes Sonnen, Advances To Grand Prix Finals

Fedor Emelinanenko is now one fight away from calling himself Bellator heavyweight champion.

In the final semifinal bout of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, Emelianenko defeated Chael Sonnen by TKO late in the first round.

The action was fast and always present even from the opening seconds of the bout. Emelianenko dropped Sonnen twice within the first 20 seconds and established the power advantage over Sonnen.

That didn’t stop Sonnen from trying to press forward and looking to take down Emelianenko. Sonnen did manage to take Emelianenko down a couple of times in the fight, but was unable to actually do anything effective against him. Emelianenko dropped Sonnen once more and eventually landed multiple uninterrupted strikes at Sonnen who was on the ground and the referee stopped the fight with less than 15 seconds remaining.

Emelianenko will now face Ryan Bader, who defeated Matt Mitrione at Bellator 207 the day prior, in the Grand Prix finals.   

During the post-Bellator 208 press conference, Bellator MMA President Scott Coker confirmed that the finals will take place at L.A. Forum on January 26. When asked by FIGHT SPORTS if Emelianenko vs. Bader was the ideal finals matchup for him, Coker replied by saying that either matchup for Bader would have been one to watch, but added that when Emelianenko fights, the event becomes that much greater due to his legendary status.

“I feel like, as a promoter, whoever wins the matchup wins and that’s it. If Fedor had lost, Chael is a great promoter and that would have been a great fight with Bader. Both of them would have been interesting matchups for Bader, but any time Fedor steps in the cage, it’s a special, historic moment and we’ll have another piece of history on the 26th of January,” Coker said.

Below are the press conferences for both Emelianenko and Sonnen.

In the co-main event, Benson Henderson managed to shut out Saad Awad in the scorecards, but Awad made Henderson work towards that unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) victory.

Henderson’s gameplan saw him constantly try to take Awad down and make the fight a scrappy one. There were a few instances when it looked like Awad was in danger of being submitted but eventually got out of trouble. Awad even dropped Henderson in the third round and landed a stiff knee to the side of Henderson’s face.

After starting his Bellator career off on the wrong foot, losing three of his first four fights, Henderson is now on a two-fight win streak.

Cheick Kongo continued his long win streak with another first-round knockout victory over former UFC fighter Timothy Johnson. Kongo took down Johnson early in the first round and immediately got the ground and pound going, quickly taking out Johnson to extend his win streak to seven fights.

In other undercard action, Anatoly Tokov defeated Alexander Shlemenko by unanimous decision, winning with a 30-27 score across all three judges’ cards.

Opening the Bellator 208 main card, Henry Corrales scored an impressive third-round knockout win over Andy Main.

After the fight, Corrales spoke to the media and said he was surprised Main took many of his big shots and wasn’t going down. Corrales added he had the best camp of his career and wanted to make a statement with a quick finish.

“Yeah [it surprised me] big time. He was just super tough. I went in there super optimal, had the best camp of my life. Everything across the border was just on point, so I was going in there and tried to finish him. I wanted him out in a round, make a statement. He didn’t make it easy for me,” Corrales said.

Bellator 208 Full Card:

Fedor Emelianenko defeated Chael Sonnen by TKO, round 1, 4:46 to the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix finals

Benson Henderson defeated Saad Awad by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Cheick Kongo defeated Timothy Johnson by KO, round 1, 1:08

Anatoly Tokov defeated Alexander Shlemenko by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Henry Corrales defeated Andy Main by KO, round 3, 2:08

Jeremy Puglia defeated Eric Olsen by TKO, round 1, 3:16

Andrews Rodriguez defeated Mike Diorio by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Dennis Buzukja defeated Ryan Castro by KO, round 1, 2:53

Zarrukh Adashev defeated Christian Medina by TKO, round 1, 1:08

David Meshkoradze defeated Shaquan Moore by split decision (30-27 Meshkoradze, 29-28 Moore, 30-27 Meshkoradze)

Tommy Espinosa defeated Suhrob Aidarbekov by submission (armbar) round 1, 1:27

Nick Fiore defeated Jerome Mickle by unanimous decision (30-27, 20-27, 30-27)

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