Bellator 79 moved two fighters closer to title shots with heavyweight Richard Hale capping off the night with a TKO victory over Thiago Santos.

A former 205lb fighter, Hale felt the power of the heavyweight division in a big way during the opening stanza against Santos who crushed him with a big left hand, before the fight moved to the ground.

Santos pounded on Hale on the ground, but when he couldn’t get the finish the fight moved back to the feet where everything made a dramatic change.

As the Brazilian again tried to make an offensive charge, Hale countered with some strikes of his own and Santos dropped to the mat, turtled up immediately and offered nothing in the way of resistance. Hale continued the assault until the referee swooped in to stop the action.

Shahbulat Shamhalaev continued the recent influx of Russian talent making waves in Bellator as he punched his ticket to the latest featherweight tournament finals.

Shamhalaev put away Mike Richman with a quick night’s work after landing a nice right hand that put the American away early in the first round.

Now a tournament finalist, Shamhalaev joins a crowded list of featherweights all hoping to eventually get a crack at champion Pat Curran who is out right now due to injury.

Douglas Lima looked to move back into the next Bellator welterweight tournament after knocking out an ultra-tough Jacob Ortiz on Friday night.

Lima threw everything plus the kitchen sink at Ortiz, who just would not go away during the fight until finally in the third round a head kick prompted the end of the match. Lima clocked Ortiz with the strike that wobbled Ortiz, and ended the fight with just 10 seconds remaining.

In the opening bout on the night’s card, Canadian Ryan Ford had a tough test trying to put away Kyle Baker, but ultimately came away with the unanimous decision.

Ford, who is known for devastating finishes, tried mightily to do the same to Baker early on, but he was tougher and more resilient than maybe the Canadian expected. Ford controlled the biggest part of the fight with his punching power, and takedowns, but Baker refused to ever go away.

Ford’s ground and pound and standing attack did damage to Baker throughout the fight, but he just could not put the right combination together to put him away. Still, Ford walked away the winner, picking up his second victory in Bellator.

Bellator 79 Full Results:

Main Card:

Richard Hale def. Thiago Santos by TKO (strikes) at 3:31, R1
Shahbulat Shamhalaev def. Mike Richman by KO at 1:45, R1
Douglas Lima def. Jacob Ortiz by TKO at 4:50, R3
Ryan Ford def. Kyle Baker by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Preliminary Card:

Guillaume DeLorenzi def. Jonny Carson by submission (rear naked choke)
Vitaly Minakov def. Vladimir Starcencov by TKO R2
Josh Appelt def. Ed Carpenter by TKO, R1
Christ Franck def. Marcus Aurelio by Split Decision
Magomedrasul Khasbulaev def. Josh Pulsifer by submission (rear naked choke)

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