On Saturday, Bellator MMA pitched its tent at Centrale Live in Rome, Italy. Not stinting on quality or local flavor, Bellator 203 treated fans to its most dominant champion as well as bringing home Italy’s most famous mixed martial arts export. It was Bellator’s fifth event on Italian soil and, as usual, it did not leave fans disappointed, as the only fight to go the distance was the back-and-forth main event.
In the headlining fight, Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire slipped by Daniel Weichel, emerging with a rousing split-decision victory after five rounds. The fighters studied each other for most of the first frame, and the public showed its disappointment by whistling at both fighters.
“Pitbull” took the initiative in the second period with effective striking offense, dominating Weichel both on feet and on the ground. Weichel answered in the third by taking the champion to the ground and hitting him with some heavy punches and elbows. When the challenger tried an anaconda choke, Freire defended it well and took the opportunity to return to his feet. Both fighters were game heading into the championship rounds, with “Pitbull” likely leading on the scorecards. In the fourth, Freire hit Weichel squarely in the nose with a cross, then applied additional punishment on the ground. Displaying impressive heart, the German fighter fired back in the fifth round and clearly won it. After the five-round battle, the judges awarded Freire the split decision, turning in scores of 49-46, 47-48 and 48-47.
In the co-main event, hometown hero Alessio Sakara met Britain’s Jamie Sloane. Sloane started fast, pushing “Legionarius” against the cage, but slipped. Sakara seized the opportunity, pouncing on Sloane and raining with hammerfists from half-guard. After a couple of heavy shots, the referee was forced to stop the fight at 1:19 of the opening stanza, to the joy of the Roman crowd, who began screaming Sakara’s name.
In other main card action, former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov needed a little more than a minute to pass his latest test, as he blasted veteran Vaso Bakocevic with a spinning back-kick to the liver at 1:06 of the first round. In a featured 185-pound bout between undefeated Europen prospects, Alen Amedovski defeated Will Fleury via KO at 1:39 in the first round. Maxim Radu slugged his way to a TKO via punches against Simone La Preziosa in their 155-pound bout. In the opening main card scrap, bantamweight Michele Martignoni defeated Simone D'Anna via KO just six seconds into the opening stanza.