Kent Kauppinen disappointed a partisan crowd in the Bellator 211 headliner, as he knocked out Rome native Alessio Sakara in the opening stanza on Saturday at RDS Stadium in Genoa, Italy.
Considering the boxing backgrounds of both main event combatants, takedowns were never expected to be part of the equation in the light heavyweight contest. That proved true, as England’s Kauppinen silenced the arena by sending Sakara to the canvas with a massive left hook at the 1:10 mark of the opening frame. Kauppinen snapped a two-bout skid with the win over Sakara, a former Bellator title challenger and 15-time UFC veteran.
Bellator 211 marked the organization’s sixth trip to Italy. The California-based promotion will donate all the gate from the event to the city of Genoa and the families of the victims of the Morandi Bridge collapse, a tragedy which left 43 dead on Aug. 14.
Elsewhere, Domingos Barros spoiled the MMA debut of kickboxer Hesdy Gerges in the heavyweight co-main event. Barros, a Portugal native, tested Gerges’ grappling ability before unloading with damaging ground-and-pound from mount. Eventually the contest was halted 3:52 into the opening stanza.
In earlier action: Pedro Carvalho submitted Italy’s Luca Vitali via guillotine choke 43 seconds into their lightweight clash; Alen Amedovski scored a 12-second knockout of Ibrahim Mane at middleweight and Irishman Kiefer Crosbie defeated Italy’s Orlando D’Ambrosio via unanimous decision at welterweight.