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It wasn’t the ending the Parisian crowd was expecting for Bellator
MMA
’s return to France.

In the
Bellator 280
main event, Ryan Bader
and Cheick Kongo
battled for the heavyweight championship for the second time
following their no-contest in September 2019. A few moments into
the fight, it seemed that history was about to repeat itself as
Bader (30-7, 1 NC; 8-2, 1 NC Bellator) landed a knee to the groin
while clinching with Kongo, who needed a few minutes to recover.
Once the action resumed, it was pretty clear that former divisional
champion Kongo (31-12-2, 13-4 Bellator) couldn’t match his
opponent’s wrestling pedigree. Thanks to relentless double-leg
takedowns and suffocating ground control, Bader kept his prey on
the canvas for five rounds, landing a few strikes from time to time
to prevent any kind of resistance. The Frenchman struggled to
resurge on the feet, but managed to contain damage. Ultimately, the
cageside judges delivered 50-45, 50-45 and 50-45 scorecards for
Bader, who took home a unanimous decision victory.

In the co-headliner, two-time
Ultimate Fighting Championship
middleweight title challenger
Yoel
Romero
scored his first promotional victory by stopping
Alex
Polizzi
. The 45-year-old Romero (14-6, 1-1 Bellator) landed
significant shots on the feet out of the gate, completing a
successful opening frame with a takedown attempt. Former
Legacy Fighting Alliance
titleholder Polizzi (10-2, 4-2
Bellator) kept the center of the cage most of the contest, but
couldn’t match his adversary’s power. Midway through the second
frame, Romero’s educated left hand knocked down Polizzi, who
resisted to see the end of the frame on wobbling legs. The Cuban
landed with his leather missiles on several occasions in the third
frame, ending the fight on a high tone. Referee Joey
Beltran
called the stoppage following a vicious uppercut as the
official time indicated one second before the end.

Elsewhere, 155-pounder Davy Gallon
(21-7-2, 3-0 Bellator) crushed Benjamin
Brander
(13-9, 0-2 Bellator) with punches from the crucifix
position at the 3:18 mark of Round 2; Lorenz
Larkin
(24-7, 1NC; 6-2 Bellator) outclassed short-notice
replacement Kyle
Stewart
(15-6, 0-1 Bellator) with knees and punches, ending the
contest with only 16 seconds left in the opening stanza of their
185-pound clash;
Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki
middleweight alum Gregory
Babene
(22-11, 1NC; 4-0 Bellator) smashed Mike
Shipman
(14-4, 5-3 Bellator) with hefty punches at 2:11 into
Round 1.

In the featured fight on the preliminary card, Piotr
Niedzielski
(17-4, 1-0 Bellator) outpointed former 145-pound
championship contender Pedro
Carvalho
(12-6, 5-3 Bellator) via split decision (29-28, 29-28,
28-29); UFC alum Thibault
Gouti
(16-5, 1-0 Bellator) scored a successful promotional
debut by upending Lewis Long
(19-7, 3-2 Bellator) on all scorecards (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at
welterweight; Jordan
Barton
(7-2-1, 1-1 Bellator) edged Fabacary
Diatta
(8-1, 2-1 Bellator) thanks to a narrow split decision
(29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a 145-pound clash; former
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship
titleholder Soren Bak
(15-1, 3-0 Bellator) took home a unanimous decision over Charlie
Leary
(17-13-1, 3-4 Bellator) in their 160-pound catchweight
affair, earning a surprising 30-27 scorecard, plus 29-28, 29-28
nods from the judges; Yves Landu
(17-9, 2-1 Bellator) smashed fellow 155-pounder Gavin
Hughes
(10-3, 1-2 Bellator) with a series of knees followed by
a knee to the liver 3:01 into the opening stanza; Lucie
Bertaud
(4-3, 2-0 Bellator) outpointed Katarzyna
Sadura
(5-5, 1-1 Bellator) on all three scorecards (30-27,
30-27, 29-28) in their women’s flyweight tilt; 185-pounder Youcef
Ouabbas
(3-0, 1-0 Bellator) stopped Matthieu
Letho Duclos
(2-2, 0-1 Bellator) with punches at the 4:17 mark
in the first period; in the 170-pound opener, Bourama
Camara
(5-1, 1-0 Bellator) knocked out Victor
de Lima Verchere
(5-2, 0-1 Bellator) at 3:06 of Round 1.


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