In the days leading up to Bellator’s historic Bellator 200 event, which takes place Friday in London, we’re counting down 10 of the biggest moments in the promotion’s history. Today, we look at one of the company’s most gruesome knockouts and injuries.
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When then-Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith previewed the Bellator 158 matchup between Michael Page and Evangelista Santos, he mentioned the effectiveness of Page’s hands and feet. During that fight we learned that Page’s knees were potent, as well.
Page entered the fight, which took place July 16, 2016, with a perfect 10-0 record. Nine of those wins had come by first-round stoppage. Santos had a record of 21-17 heading into the welterweight bout, and just seven of those 38 contests had gone the distance.
Page was relaxed in the opening minutes of the fight. He did his best to use his speed and striking ability to keep Santos, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, from getting the fight to the ground. But with three minutes left in the first stanza, Santos got the fight to the mat. After Page’s brief attempt at a kneebar, Santos spent the majority of the time on the canvas searching for an opening, which never came.
In the second round, Page used his unorthodox style to try to get Santos off his game. Santos, though, didn’t bite. He kept his guard high and remained patient. With 90 seconds left in the round, Page snuck a liver kick beneath that guard. The kick hurt Santos, but he seemed to recover. With the clock ticking down, Santos threw a lunging right hand.
But Page avoided the strike and then responded with a flying knee that caught Santos flush to the forehead (via Twitter):
As he crumpled to the mat, Santos grabbed for his head with both hands. The cageside doctors rushed in to tend to the fallen fighter as he writhed in pain. The official stoppage came at the 4:31 mark the second round.
John McCarthy, who refereed the bout, said the impact of Page’s knee “sounded like a baseball being hit out of the park.”
To call the strike devastating would be an understatement. We found out the full impact of Page’s knee the next day when Santos’ ex-wife, current UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, shared an image of Santos in his hospital bed along with an X-ray of his skull. The photo showed a large indentation in Santos’ forehead. The X-ray displayed the cracks Page’s knee left in Santos’ skull. UFC commentator Joe Rogan shared the image on Instagram and wrote that it was “THE WORST MMA injury” he had ever seen.
The frightening stoppage won MMAjunkie’s “Knockout of the Year” for 2016.
Santos underwent reconstructive surgery in Houston, Texas and returned home to Brazil after six months of recovery time. In July 2017, Santos spoke to MMAjunkie about the injury and his future.
“Fighters have to be determined, aggressive, honorable and always give their best,” he said. “And the end of a Spartan’s career has to be this – giving his best in a fight, to the very end. But I don’t believe this is the end for me. I’m recovering. I’m feeling great. Due to my own concerns, I avoided any contact up to now. But I have a great desire to be back in action by next year.
“And if this was really the end of me, it was an end worthy of what I’ve represented, of what I’ve done. Scott Coker and everyone else at Bellator have always treated me with kindness and honor. They showed a lot of concern during my recovery. I plan to come back and work with them again.”
Santos has not fought since his loss to Page.
Page followed his knockout win over Santos with a split-decision victory over Fernando Gonzalez. He returns to the cage for the first time since that November 2016 victory to face former Bellator lightweight title challenger David Rickels at Bellator 200.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: 10 biggest moments in Bellator history: That time a flying knee caved in a fighter's forehead