Jessie Riggleman earned the upset and biggest career win
Saturday in Canton. | Photo: Keith Mills
CANTON, Ohio -- Taking a bout on less than two weeks notice usually
is a detriment to a fighter once he steps into the cage. It proved
not to be the case for Virginian bantamweight Jessie
Riggleman, who upset Farkhad
Sharipov to headline the
Bellator 51 undercard at the Canton Civic Center.
Riggleman’s wrestling proved superior to the accomplished Kyrgyz
grappler to work to his advantage, stifling Sharipov and winning a
split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) over the Orlando, Fla.,
“I watched a little bit of footage on him and saw he had a
wrestling background,” Riggleman told Sherdog.com after the fight.
“He was mediocre kind of take you down, lay on top of you and grind
you out. [He] didn’t do a whole lot. I knew what I had to go in
there and I did it.”
The MMA Institute bantamweight trains with the likes of gritty
brothers Kyle and Beau Baker,
amassing a record of 11-2. Known for their work in the cage, “The
Mountain Man” credits the team for his success against Sharipov,
who had won 10 of his previous 11 bouts.
“I got all different kinds of bodies to train with,” Riggleman
explained. “All different levels of guys come in. I mean anybody is
willing to come in any time of the day or night to train with you
and help you out. These past two weeks I had to train and the gym
wouldn’t be open and guys would say, ‘Yeah, we’ll come in and help
you out and do whatever we can do for you to get you ready.’”
Riggleman's aggression paid off.
Riggleman and Sharipov traded tit-for-tat in the wrestling
department and on the feet. However, Riggleman was able to take the
back and threaten with guillotines and was the aggressor on the
feet. His greater offense earned him scorecards of 30-27 and 29-28
from judges John Beltz and Darren Austin. Dissenting judge Mike
Barry saw it 29-28 Sharipov.
On a night that also featured the beginning of Bellator's Season 5
bantamweight tournament, Riggleman was understandably extra excited
about what constitutes the biggest win of his career.
“Hopefully this gets me into the tournament. I don’t want to wish
bad on anybody getting hurt but that would be great to get in that
tournament and get a chance to win on that top level,” said
The highlight of the undercard, however, belonged to undefeated
Zanesville, Ohio, light heavyweight prospect Dan Spohn, who
turned in a "Knockout of the Year" contender just nine seconds into
his bout with Dane
Spohn only needed 9 seconds.
The bell rang, the two touched gloves and Spohn connected with a
huge left knee, knocking Bonnigson out cold. The sensational KO
moved the Jorge
Gurgel-trained Spohn to 6-0 with three stoppages in his young
“I did exactly what I wanted to,” Spohn told Sherdog.com. “My coach
and boxing coach deserve all the credit. We did the exact game plan
we wanted and it worked out perfectly.”
Local favorite Jessica Eye
took a well-earned split decision over The Pit's Casey
Noland. Only the final frame was truly competitive, as Noland
got through Eye's more accurate and frequent punches and kicks and
was able to clinch her along the fence. However, even inside, the
Independence, Ohio, native landed the more powerful strikes.
Judges Mike Barry and Darren Austin both had it 29-28 for Eye,
while John Beltz figured it 29-28 Noland. The split decision moved
the 25-year-old Eye's pro MMA mark to 4-1.
In a co-promoted featherweight contest, Cleveland's Frank Caraballo earned the North American Allied Fight
Series interim featherweight title after opponent Dustin Kempf suffered a knee injury. Following an early
scramble, Caraballo landed a volley of punches that put Kempf down
awkwardly on the canvas, prompting an immediate stoppage by referee
Mark Matheny just 79 seconds into the first round.
Jessica Eye earned a W in front of her
At 205 pounds, Strong Style Fight Team's “Big” John Hawk
Weickert for two full rounds. Hawk stalked Weickert around the
cage, landing punches and knees at will. The only deviation from
this pattern was in the second round, when referee Mark Matheny
deducted Hawk a point for a knee to the groin of Weickert.
However, when the bout resumed, the 31-year-old Hawk got on top of
Weickert and punched and elbowed him even further into a bloody
mess, prompting the Tiffin, Ohio, native to quit following the
In the evening's opener, East Liverpool, Ohio, native Joey
Bernard Holt overcame early domination by lightweight opponent
Musser to land a fight-ending knee at 4:07 of the first round.
After repeated Musser takedowns, Holt escaped to his feet and
loaded up on a jumping knee when his foe shot again and finished
the fight in dramatic fashion.