Bellator MMA returned to action Friday with Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. In the evening’s recently promoted co-main event, Gracie Family flag bearer Neiman Gracie put his undefeated record on the line against promotional newcomer Zak Bucia.
Bucia (15–7), a pro for nearly a decade, previously fought under the Strikeforce, Titan FC, and Shamrock FC banners. He was making his debut in Bellator against Gracie, and came into the bout off a trio of wins in Shamrock FC. Among those three wins was a unanimous decision victory over former UFC/Strikeforce talent Bobby Voelker.
Gracie, meanwhile, came into the bout at 6-0, with all six fights coming in either the WSOF or Bellator. Five of those six fights ended in submission victories for the Brazilian, and given his name, opponents should clearly be wary of heading to the ground with the jiu-jitsu champion.
Bucia stayed outside early, focusing on movement, clearly wary of the takedown. Once Gracie did initiate a clinch, he almost instantly took the back, pulled his opponent down, locked in both hooks, and looked for a rear-naked choke. Bucia would fend the Brazilian off as best he could; Neiman added some elbows that came dangerously close to the back of the head. Shockingly, Bucia managed to reverse and get on top. Gracie maintained his body triangle while Zak Bucia elbowed this thigh; the pair flirted with heel hooks and knee bars, with Gracie continually looking for subs and Bucia defending. Surprisingly, the newcomer made it out of the round.
Neiman Gracie would let his hands go early in round two, using a combination to set up a takedown. Bucia would employ a whizzer to defend, but Gracie would keep at it until he finally dragged him down. With both hooks in once again, he went back to work. This time, it wasn’t long before he had Bucia trapped with a neck crank, forcing the tap!
Neiman Gracie def. Zak Bucia by submission (neck crank), Round 2, 2:27