While Bellator’s 263 main event of Patricio Pitbull vs. A.J. McKee was unquestionably the star of the show, the co-feature offered a very strong match-up as well. That saw another featherweight pair collide, as Emmanuel Sanchez squared off with Mads Burnell.
The fight carried with it the possibility of a fresh contender emerging at 145lbs. Sanchez had twice challenged Patricio Pitbull for gold, coming up short on both occasions. Burnell? The Danish fighter and former Cage Warriors champ had won six straight, and was undefeated in the Bellator cage through two fights.
While Burnell held center early, Sanchez arguably had some more success, punches in bunches flowing, with kicks mixed in for good measure. Burnell kept his guard high, making sure that nothing significant slipped through. He also chopped away at Sanchez’s lead leg, but before long, Burnell was under fire. Nothing overly dangerous, at least initially. But for every strike Burnell was landing, Sanchez was landing two or three.
Sensing he was slipping behind on the feet, Burnell changed things up, and easily landed a takedown. He went to work from half-guard, and it certainly bought him some time to catch his breath. But the flood of output from “El Matador” was the story early.
Round two had Sanchez continuing to let the hands flow. Body, head, head. Kicks at the end of combos. Burnell was landing as well, but once again, at nowhere near the rate of Sanchez. And the Danish featherweight just didn’t seem to have the power behind his punches necessary to stop Sanchez.
Sanchez, meanwhile, drilled Burnell to the body, backing him up against the cage. Burnell reversed, and looked to pick an ankle. Sanchez escaped, however, and went right back to work. He even fired a spinning kick, which Burnell ducked under. Burnell landed a combo, and later, managed to get Sanchez to the mat. Despite having over a minute to work, however, Burnell couldn’t get much done.
Mads Burnell wisely took the fight down much earlier in round three. He took the back of Sanchez, getting a hook in while “El Matador” threw a number of back elbows. Sanchez would eventually escape out, but before long, Burnell would get the fight back down. The third round was almost certainly Burnell’s, but given how the first ten minutes had gone, there was no certainty in him winning the fight. Yet somehow, two judges awarded Burnell all three rounds. There was a clear argument for the second, but the first came as something of a shock given the massive discrepancy in striking.
Official Result: Mads Burnell def. Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)