It’s Friday night, and that means Bellator! This was the promotion’s 114th outing, and it was a feisty one. It featured the semifinals of the season 10 featherweight tournament and one semifinal bout of the middleweight tournament. The Bellator middleweight title was also up for grabs.
Early in the first round, Cooper landed a stiff leg kick that floored Grove. Cooper pounced on him, but Grove reversed his fortunes. He took Cooper’s back and maintained the position for the rest of the round. He was unable to secure a rear naked choke despite several attempts. Towards the end of the round he resorted to ground and pound. As he poured more on, Cooper wilted and turtled, but he was saved by the bell.
The second round was much closer. Both fighters managed to pepper each other. Grove worked his jab, and Cooper’s money combination was a left uppercut followed by a straight right. It was this same combo that sent Grove crashing to the mat late in the second frame. Some vicious follow-up ground and pound from Cooper starched Grove and Big John McCarthy stepped in, perhaps a little too late.
The next match was the first featherweight tournament semifinal. Des Green faced Will Martinez. After a minute or two of feeling out, Martinez landed a tremendous right hand that wobbled Green. Green managed to maintain his composure though, shooting for a double leg, driving Martinez completely across the cage and taking him down. Martinez stood back up shortly after hitting the mat. Some sloppy striking exchanges ensued, with both fighters missing big. Martinez hit Green with a wicked body kick, then clinched and started dirty boxing. He maintained dominance over the striking for the rest of the first round, scoring with right hands at will—that is until he was taken down with about a minute to go in the round. Green hit a couple of great right hands from inside Martinez’s guard, and Martinez landed a nice upkick. The rounded ended with a bit of blood coming from Martinez’s mouth.
Green started the second round aggressive. Martinez made him pay with a left hand that wobbled him. Nevertheless, Green pushed through it and clinched with Martinez, taking his back while standing and tenderizing Martinez’s thighs with knees. After about a minute or two of this, Green slammed Martinez with a stunning suplex. Repetition was the story for the rest of the round. Green sat in Martinez’s guard. Martinez went for a submission, and Green avoided it.
The third round began with Martinez rushing forwards, throwing three jabs and slipping. After that, Martinez intentionally parked himself against the fence. It appeared as though Martinez was attempting to bait Green. It worked, but not as Martinez intended. Green came in and nailed him with a right hand. Martinez recovered quickly. Very late in the round, Martinez rocked Green with a left hook, but it was too little, too late. Green ended the fight with a takedown, practically guaranteeing the round and the fight. The judges agreed with this assessment; Green won a unanimous decision victory.
The co-main event, and last featherweight tournament semifinal, pitted Daniel Weichel against Matt Bessette. Things started off poorly for Bessette. Weichel floored him with a straight right counter to a leg kick. Weichel followed it up with some ground and pound; Bessette’s rubber guard was ineffective. The first round stalled out at that point. Weichel didn’t pass into half guard until there was a minute left in the first round. Bessette managed to escape with about 30 seconds left, but received a stiff knee to the face for his efforts.
Weichel started round 2 by literally shoving Bessette to the canvas. He let Bessette return to his feet. The two exchanged knees. There were some more missed or otherwise meaningless strikes. Bessette was the more active fighter, which might’ve won him the round on the scorecards, though the same claim could be made for a takedown Weichel scored late in the round (but Bessette rose to his feet immediately afterwards).
Bessette tried to continue turning the pace up in the third frame but Weichel stymied him with a takedown. He spent much of the round in Bessette’s guard, easily shrugging off submission attempts and stalling until the end of the fight. Not surprisingly, the judges awarded Weichel with a unanimous decision win. He’ll be meeting Des Green in the finals.
The night’s main event featured a middleweight title fight between champion Alexander Shlemenko and challenger Brennan Ward. Ward frustrated Shlemenko early on, hitting the champ with a good uppercut as well as a stiff knee. He also managed to evade and block much of Shlemenko’s offense..that was until he ate a few punches and a knee. Shlemenko blocked a Ward takedown but wound up pressed against the fence. A low blow from Ward put a stop to the action for a minute. After the fight resumed, Ward took Shlemenko’s back. A neck crank failed to end the fight. A rare stand-up from the back occurred (we still don’t know what Big John was thinking) and the two started wildly exchanging. Shlemenko wobbled Ward with a hook, but he still had enough composure to drag the Russian to the mat and take his back a second time. He couldn’t sink in a choke before the round ended.
The two exchanged hooks to start the next round. Shlemenko hit a trio of knees to Ward’s body and missed an outside trip. He followed that up with a nasty round kick to the body. Ward tried to take Shlemenko down off a kick, but wound up in an extremely tight guillotine, so tight that Ward tapped before Shlemenko even dropped to guard. A good showing from Ward, though. He gave Shlemenko a tougher fight in the first round than most expected.
Here are the complete results:
Alexander Shlemenko def. Brennan Ward via submission (guillotine), 1:22 of round 2
Daniel Weichel def. Matt Bessette via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Desmond Green def. Will Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Brett Cooper def. Kendall Grove via KO (punches), 3:33 of round 2
Justin Wilcox def. Jason Fischer via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Bubba Jenkins def. Sean Powers via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Linton Vassell def. Trevor Carlson via submission (rear naked choke), 1:54 of round 2
Gavin Sterritt def. Mike Estus via submission (guillotine choke), 3:29 of round 1
Joe Rodriguez def. Eric Wahlin via submission (arm triangle), 2:06 of round 2