Bellator 216: MVP Gets Win in Close, But Lackluster Contest

It wasn’t the fight most were expecting, and it was negatively received, but Michael “Venom” Page keeps his undefeated streak and moves on in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. Page defeated longtime rival Paul Daley in a grudge match that headlined Bellator 216, which took place on Feb. 16 from the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

As a result of the win, Page now advances to face Douglas Lima in the Grand Prix semifinals on May 11. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the finals, effectively making the fight a No. 1 contender’s bout.

The opening round saw few strikes from Page and none at all from Daley, as each man tried to bait the other to approach them. Daley chased after Page and eventually secured a weird-looking takedown in the middle of the second round, where the action mostly remained until the round’s closing seconds, which saw Daley chase after Page again.

The action seemed to pick up a bit in the third, with Page faking a jumping knee and stuffing a takedown attempt before finding himself on his back again. Daley tagged Page on the ground, though Page got to his feet and clinched Daley’s back as the bell sounded. Page got a takedown once more in the fourth, but Page fought back harder, eventually clinching Daley and getting his back to the cage wall, kneeing his rival and bringing him down to the ground and dishing out some offense before the end of the round.

In the fifth and final round, Page was taken down once more, though he nearly locked in a triangle from guard. Page, however, got behind Daley and nearly got a rear-naked choke in a couple of times, while throwing some elbows to keep Daley at bay. Daley tried for a desperate submission before the bell, but MVP easily shrugged it off.

All three judges gave the fight to Page with scores of 48-47.

In the Bellator 216 co-main event, Mirko Cro Cop had a successful Bellator debut, scoring a decision win over Roy Nelson and avenging his October 2011 UFC loss to “Big Country.”

Early in the opening round, Nelson attempted to take Cro Cop down to the ground, only to be stuffed, a theme that stuck throughout the fight. The two exchanged throughout the first in a clinch battle, though Cro Cop got the biggest shot of the round after separation with a kick to the body.

Nelson missed a huge right and got another takedown attempt stuffed early on in the second, and Cro Cop made him pay with several blows on the inside. The two exchanged kicks, and Nelson managed to block the signature left head kick of Cro Cop’s. Nelson managed to force Cro Cop back with a small flurry late in the second but failed to take the PRIDE legend down once more.

Nelson looked tired and desperate in the third, trying all he could to get Cro Cop down. Cro Cop moved around the cage, and while Nelson got a takedown in with a minute left in the fight, Cro Cop locked in guard and Nelson was unable to do much until the final bell. All three judges scored the bout in Cro Cop’s favor, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.

Bellator 216 also featured the return of former heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov, but his undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of the last man he faced before leaving Bellator — Cheick Kongo.

Minakov started things out with a couple of hard shots to the head, but Kongo quickly clinched Minakov and brought them over to the cage. After a pause for an accidental low blow, Kongo got Minakov in another clinch on the cage, but the Russian former Bellator champion separated and rocked Kongo briefly, nearing getting in a guillotine before the end of the round.

After a quiet start to round two with no action and many jeers from the crowd, Minakov landed a couple of hard jabs, though Kongo got in a small combination with a knee before the bell. Kongo attempted to start the third round with leg kicks, but Minakov took him down and remained on top for most of the third, nearly getting in another choke. But Kongo got up and landed another combination ending with a knee before the bell.

As a result of the win, Kongo now gets first crack at new Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.

Bellator 216 Results:
Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal: Michael Page def. Paul Daley via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Heavyweight: Mirko Cro Cop def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Bellator Heavyweight Title Eliminator: Cheick Kongo def. Vitaly Minakov via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Yaroslav Amosov def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Women’s Flyweight: Valerie Loureda def. Colby Fletcher via TKO (Rd. 1, 2:55)

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