Bellator 186 results: Saad Awad stops Zach Freeman with pair of right hands in first

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After another Bellator stoppage for his resume, Saad Awad was left lamenting why he isn’t getting more recognition and bigger fights.

Awad (21-9 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) stopped Zach Freeman (9-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) just 67 seconds into the first round with a two-punch TKO courtesy of a pair of right hands that appeared to be merely glancing blows, but were enough to put Freeman on the canvas and get referee Keith Peterson to shut things down.

The lightweight bout opened up the main card of today’s Bellator 186 event at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa. It aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Awad tried a low kick 25 seconds in, and Freeman answered with one of his own seconds later. Freeman faked a shot, then threw left hand. But seconds later, Awad landed a right hand that stunned Freeman, and right after that one more grazed Freeman’s head and he went down.

Awad essentially called the fight himself by raising his hands and not dropping to the canvas to go for the finish, and Peterson said he had done enough for the TKO.

Some fans in the crowd booed what they deemed to be a quick stoppage without giving Freeman a chance to get up and get back in the fight. But Awad said he’s got power, and he knew he had Freeman hurt.

“I saw him after the first hit, that I hurt him a little bit, that it landed,” Awad said. “A lot of people don’t know who I am. This is my 15th fight in Bellator. I have eight finishes in this cage. Come on: Give me something big.”

Up-to-the-minute Bellator 186 results include:

  • Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:07
  • Scott Clymer def. Michael Benjamin Putnam via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:07
  • Mike Wilkins def. Brett Martinez via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:09
  • Michael Trizano def. Mike Otwell via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 2, 2:07
  • Dominic Mazzotta def. Matthew Lozano via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 2:37
  • Logan Storley def. Matt Secor via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Tywan Claxton def. Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman via knockout (flying knee) – Round 1, 1:29
  • Frankie Buenafuente def. Francis Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Andrew Salas def. Ethan Goss via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Josh Fremd def. Ryan Parker via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:25

For complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 186's Zach Freeman's dream: a lightweight title, and then a unifier against Aaron Pico

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For a guy who’d just pulled off one of the biggest upset of the year, Bellator lightweight Zach Freeman didn’t seem like a very happy guy.

After needing just 24 seconds to submit the heavily hyped Aaron Pico in June at Bellator 180, Freeman’s post-fight celebration was cut with criticism toward the MMA media for its lack of notice prior to the fight.

Officially the spoiler of Pico’s professional debut, Freeman vowed only to talk to the media outlets that previously had given the time of day.

Four months later, Freeman, nicknamed “The Altar Boy,” is a little more pragmatic about the issue after a “bittersweet moment” in victory.

“I think my point was that, in the future, I think it’s important to give everybody a platform to tell their story, to give them an opportunity to earn sponsors, and to rightly deserve where they’re at,” Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who on Friday faces Saad Awad (20-9 MMA, 8-6 BMMA) at Bellator 186, told MMAjunkie. “That’s kind of what I meant.”

It might not have come across that way in the moment, of course. But Freeman ended up getting what he wanted, to a certain degree. More interview requests and interest in his career as a fighter and part-time musician followed after the event.

Now he no longer blames the media for its fair-weather approach. He recognizes it’s just part of the game in a sport where heroes are minted overnight.

“You guys work hard to help us get our names out there and get a bigger platform,” he said. “I’m always going to appreciate MMA journalists. I just was hoping I could get a little more attention.”

Make no mistake, he still wants it. More than that, he wants bigger opportunities. He is just resolved to earn them.

“I feel like I have a lot of work to put in to earn the respect of Bellator and fans,” he said. “A lot of people can call it a fluke, so it’s my job to show that it was not.”

To that end, Freeman is working hard to deliver a successful follow-up in Bellator. He is well aware of the increased stakes. This time, he faces a much more experienced opponent in Awad, whom he faces on the Spike-televised main card at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.

Compared to Pico, there is no doubt Awad is ready for a big fight.

“I’m almost in the Pico boat now, fighting a veteran who’s got all this experience,” Freeman said. “I think they did justice and the opponent they chose for me.”

Against Awad, Freeman will fulfill the second obligation of a four-fight deal he signed prior to facing Pico (1-1 MMA 1-1 BMMA). Ten months remain on his contract, meaning he’ll be staying busy until he comes up for renewal.

Despite his high-profile loss, Pico beat Freeman back to the cage. This past month, the decorated wrestler starched veteran Justin Linn with a perfectly placed punch, returning him to the win column in the most impressive way possible.

Freeman isn’t bothered by the timeline of his return. In fact, he considers himself a fan of the young fighter. He thinks Pico should next face off with Justin Lawrence, the UFC veteran who’s had a second life in Bellator.

Freeman even hopes to meet Pico down the road after they’ve both become champions.

“I think the best-case scenario would be something like I win the title, and one year and a half from now, Aaron Pico wins the featherweight title, and he can fight for my title and we can put on an awesome pay-per-view event like (Conor) McGregor and (Eddie) Alvarez did,” Freeman said.

Amibtious, indeed. But based on the intense interest in Pico’s debut, and the subsequent intrigue surrounding his brief downfall, Freeman thinks putting them together would close a storyline opened with their first meeting.

In that episode, Freeman was relegated to an also-ran that didn’t have much chance against the young upstart. Now that he’s proven that was wrong role, he aims to give Bellator more reasons to promote him as the type of talent that warrants the attention.

“I took that platform and I delivered, and I really can’t ask them to be any better than they have,” he said. “They gave me a second fight, and they’ve given it to me on a main card. They’re giving me every opportunity. At this point, it’s up to me to deserve anything more.”

For more on Bellator 186, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2476 with Brett Primus and Zach Freeman

Stream or download Monday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Brett Primus and Zach Freeman.

Both fighters claimed victories at Bellator NYC this past Saturday, with Primus defeating Michael Chandler for the lightweight title and Freeman upsetting super prospect Aaron Pico.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Brent Primus and Zach Freeman

Filed under: Bellator, News

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET with guests Brent Primus and Zach Freeman.

Primus is the new Bellator lightweight champion after defeating injured Michael Chandler at Bellator NYC on Saturday. Freeman scored a major upset over super prospect Aaron Pico at the same event.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

So, when is Bellator returning to pay-per-view? Scott Coker has a plan

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Filed under: Bellator, News

(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

NEW YORK – Bellator still has a future on pay-per-view, though it differs from MMA’s other top promotion.

Bellator’s second PPV event took place Saturday and featured a mix of familiar names and top prospects. The fight promotion, widely considered the No. 2 MMA organization behind the UFC, offered Bellator NYC, which took place at iconic Madison Square Garden.

Despite some unexpected results, it set up big fights for the future. It also underscored the different PPV strategies for Bellator and the UFC.

The Viacom-owned Bellator is not trying to replicate the UFC’s formula, which includes approximately a dozen major PPV shows per year, with 30 or so smaller events carried by its cable partners and UFC Fight Pass, its digital streaming service.

Bellator, instead, will air 20 or so annual events on Spike, but PPV is still in the plans, according to Bellator President Scott Coker. However, he tells USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie the next PPV show probably won’t come until the first quarter of 2018, and they will remain infrequent offerings. However, he said he was encouraged by Bellator NYC’s success.

“This was the biggest event in the company’s history,” he says. “We’ve got great fighters here, and I think people are seeing the talent on this roster. … This is a worthy (organization), and we’re right there at the top too.”

He says Bellator is focused on being a fan- and fighter-friendly organization with its own matchmaking style and production elements. Its biggest event to date wasn’t perfect, but it had some stunning outcomes and viral moments, both of which help justify a $50 price tag for a product otherwise available for free on basic cable.

Bellator NYC, though, had a stacked lineup, which helped draw an announced attendance of 12,133. Fight-hype specialist Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) earned a decision win over longtime rival Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the headliner, and heavy-handed Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) scored a 74-second win over famed heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in a co-headliner that featured a rare double knockdown. Two new champs were crowned in three title fights, and unheralded Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) submitted highly touted lightweight prospect Aaron Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in just 24 seconds.

They weren’t all the best outcomes for Bellator’s matchmakers or marketing team, but the unexpected results created buzz and garnered fans’ attention.

“It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of MMA,” Sonnen says. “I thought the card as a whole was outstanding. … We did some pretty good business.”

Although Bellator debuted in 2009, the product has taken its current form only recently under the helm of Coker, who was hired as president in June 2014. The longtime combat-sports promoter knows how to put on an extravagant event, as his company roster attests.

“There’s more of it to come,” says Mitrione, whose bout with Emelianenko quickly became a viral hit. “They know what they’re doing. We’re leading the industry now, so now it’s (a matter of) what they can do to lead from the front, not chase from the back.”

The UFC comparisons are likely to remain, but Coker says he’s focused on Bellator’s own progress.

“People can compare us to whoever,” Coker says. “At the end of the day, we are an organization that’s come a long way in three years. We have record ratings, record sponsors, record international distribution. It’s owned by Viacom. That’s one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. It’s one of the most powerful. It’s a good day when you have that kind of support.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC highlights: Zach Freeman shocks 10-1 favorite Aaron Pico in 24 seconds

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos

The heavily hyped and marketed pro-MMA debut of Aaron Pico resulted in a major upset loss to Zach Freeman at Saturday’s Bellator NYC event.

The event aired on pay-per-view from Madison Square Garden in New York.

Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) used an uppercut and guillotine to tap 10-1 favorite Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in just 24 seconds.

Check out the highlights above.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter reacts to Zach Freeman's stunning submission of Aaron Pico at Bellator NYC

Zach Freeman said he was going to shock the world at Bellator NYC, and that’s exactly what happened when he halted the hype train of prospect Aaron Pico.

Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) needed just 24 seconds to submit Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with a D’Arce choke in the lightweight bout on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Freeman’s victory over Pico at Bellator NYC.

* * * *

For complete coverage of “Bellator: NYC” and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC results: Huge underdog Zach Freeman chokes out Aaron Pico in 24 seconds

Heavily-hyped Aaron Pico is still a work in progress.

Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) brought that fact into stark relief with an uppercut and guillotine choke that had Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) tapping quick.

The lightweight bout opened up the main card of today’s Bellator NYC event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It aired on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 card on Spike with prelims on MMAjunkie.

It was over just 24 seconds into the fight when Pico tapped and briefly went unconscious as Freeman modified his choke and squeezed with a D’Arce.

Pico handed him the opportunity. Perhaps anxious to put a knockout on the board after promising one at the event’s weigh-ins, Pico immediately closed the distance and fired off an overhand right. Unfortunately for him, Freeman beat him to the punch with an uppercut.

Pico’s knees buckled and Freeman grabbed the neck. Pico tried to get free, but was quickly forced to tap.

The 33-year-old Freeman, who’d been 1-2 in his previous three outings, scores a huge upset. Pico, 20, goes back to the drawing board having learned a painful lesson.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator NYC results include:

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson and Mike Bohn contributed to this report on site in New York.)

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie