Two things stood out about the historic Bellator 248 card on Saturday. One, for those somehow unaware, it was the first-ever sanctioned MMA event in France. The Paris-based card ushered in MMA in the nation, and gave Bellator another stronghold as it continued its European invasion.
The other standout factor was the presence of a crowd, small as it may have been. Though the arena was at reduced capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were still fans in the arena to witness a little history in the making.
Mads Burnell and Darko Banovic had the honor of being the first sanctioned MMA contest in French history. And it did not take long for Burnell, the former UFC featherweight and Cage Warriors champion, to become the first winner in the nation. Burnell landed an early takedown, scooping Banovic up and laying him down. In short order he worked his way to a dominant position, eventually taking the back and raining down strikes as Banovic covered up. That was enough for the ref, who waved it off, giving Burnell his first win in Bellator, and fifth straight overall.
When it came to the quick finish, Alan Omer apparently took notice. He wasted little time in his 160lb catchweight fight with Ryan Scope, wailing on the English fighter as he covered up along the fence. A big knee to the body and more strikes sealed the deal, making it two straight first-round stoppages to open the Bellator Paris card. Following the win, Omer, who improved to 24-5 with the victory, called out the Pitbull brothers. Both of them.
I love that everyone has been calling me out. I have a tough task ahead, if I'm injury free I wanna fight 2 more times this year so bring them all. #BellatorParis Now excuse me, I have a plane to catch. On my way to Mohegan Sun 🛫 @BellatorMMA @CBSSports
— Patricky Freire (@PatrickyPitbull) October 10, 2020
The third fight of the night featured the first French fighter to step into the cage. Emmanuel Dawa had the crowd in his corner. Sweden’s Oliver Enkamp found himself on his back early, but it didn’t take long for him to transition to the top, moving into half-guard and dropping a few short punches. Dawa returning to his feet was met with approval from the crowd, but it was short lived. Enkamp quickly slammed him back down. Before long, Enkamp had his third straight win inside the Bellator cage, once again utilizing his preferred submission, the Japanese neck tie. Although that would confuse the officials cageside, who deemed the submission a D’arce choke in error.
The main event of the Bellator 248 card, though not of Bellator Paris as a whole, saw Michael Page paired up with former Cage Warriors champ Ross Houston. And without question, Houston put up a better fight against Page than many of MVP’s past opponents. In the opening round, a caught kick saw Page dumped on his back, forced to fight from the one place he really didn’t want to be. Houston proved strong enough on the feet to force Page into a more reserved style through the first half of the fight. Hands up, flash and showboating placed on the back burner.
Still, the cocky Michael Page fans have come to know came out later in the second, as he landed a couple of strong blows on Houston, then took him down with a leg sweep, allowing Page to land some ground n’ pound prior round’s end. The pair entered round three with the possibility of the fight being split at a round a piece — though if there was any edge, it went to Page. The third was a more closely contested, conservative round with a lot of grappling exchanges. Page proved to have refined his game — he was far from lost in the grappling departments — and after fifteen minutes, the scores reflected just that, with Page picking up a unanimous decision win.
The rest of the action from the Accor Arena in Paris will play out throughout the afternoon, with the Bellator Europe 10 prelims up next. But the four-fight Bellator 248 card, which aired on CBS Sports Network, is in the books.
Bellator 248: Page vs. Houston Results
Michael Page def. Ross Houston by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-37, 30-27)
Oliver Enkamp def. Emmanuel Dawa by submission (Japanese neck tie), Round 1, 4:10
Alan Omer def. Ryan Scope by TKO, Round 1, 1:46
Mads Burnell def. Darko Banovic by TKO Round 1, 3:13