The Bellator MMA cage was at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Friday for Bellator 194: Mitirone vs. Nelson 2. The event was headlined by a quarterfinal bout in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix between Matt Mitrione and Roy “Big Country” Nelson.
The two first fought in the UFC in December 2012 with Nelson knocking out Mitrione at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, but a lot has changed since then. Their first bout was Mitrione’s sixth professional fight. He’s a seasoned veteran now and showed it in the rematch.
Mitrione used his seven-inch reach advantage and established his jab in the early going. He picked Nelson apart with lead uppercuts and leg kicks. Nelson, losing the striking exchanges, opted to get the fight to the ground and put Mitirone on his back late in the opening round. He moved to side control but was unable to inflict damage.
In the second round, Mitrione continued to land his jab and lead uppercut. He peppered Nelson with shot after shot. With a minute remaining in the frame, Nelson secured a takedown. He landed shots but didn’t steal the round.
In the third, Nelson looked for an opportunity to ground Mitirone early. With more than three minutes left in the round he slammed Mitirone to the canvas. He moved to side control and eventually put Mitirone in the crucifix position. He hammered away with short left hands with the referee watching on closely. Nelson isolated an arm and Mitirone scrambled back to his feet only to be taken down again.
After fifteen minutes of fighting, the judges scored the fight for Mitrione by majority decision. The scorecards read 28-28, 29-28, and 29-28 in favor of Mitrione.
“Why is he so damn tough? I hit that cat so hard with so many really solid punches. He’d say like, ‘ow,’ but it wouldn’t phase him. He’s tough,” said Mitirone about Nelson following the rematch.
With the win, Mitirone advances in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix. He’ll face the winner between light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and “King Mo” Lawal. The two meet at Bellator 199 on May 12 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
In the co-main event, lightweights Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Derek Campos met for the second time. Freire finished Campos in the first meeting in April 2014 early in the second round via punches. On Friday, Freire got it done in the first frame.
Campos took the center of the cage and pressed forward while Freire circled on the outside. The two wasted little time before exchanging. Each landed shots but nothing significant through the first two minutes. Campos planted his feet and landed a right hand and Freire absorbed it and fired back with a left hook that sent Campos crashing to the canvas. Campos quickly got back to his feet only to be dropped a second time with an uppercut. Again, Campos rose to his feet but Freire kept the pressure on. He flurried and connected sending Campos to the canvas a third time and forcing the referee to stop in and stop the fight.
Following his first-round finish, Freire called out lightweight champion Brent Primus. Now riding a three-fight winning streak, “Pitbull” believes he should be next in line for a title shot.
“My motivation is the belt. I will beat the champion easy. Make my roads. I will beat the champion easy. I’m the next champion,” he said. “I want to beat all champions in my class and in my house. Bellator is my house!”
In the women’s flyweight division, former boxers transitioning into mixed martial arts, Heather Hardy and Ana Julaton, faced off and it wasn’t what everyone was expecting. Instead of a striking battle, most of the fight took place inside the clinch position and on the ground.
Hardy took Julaton down in the opening round and landed hammer fists and punches before trying to secure a choke. Lacking proper technique, Hardy wasn’t able to finish. Julaton took Hardy down in the second frame but Hardy was able to take Julaton’s back. She attempted to apply a rear-naked choke but was off to the side.
Julaton started working in a kicking attack in the third round but Hardy quickly closed the distance and initiated the clinch. Instead of seeing two accomplished boxers strike, we saw two accomplished boxers with limited grappling ability. Hardy proved to be more proficient on the ground and walked away with a unanimous decision win.
In light heavyweight action Vadim Nemkov defeated former champion Liam McGeary in a one-sided fight. The Russian dictated the pace and the action. He landed the bigger punches during the exchanges but it was his leg kicks that took down McGeary.
Nemkov targeted McGeary’s lead leg throughout the fight. In the second round McGeary began to limp. In the third round he was essentially on one leg. Nemkov continued to deliver leg kicks until McGeary could no longer stand and fell to his back. The former champion got back to his feet only to be hit by more leg kicks. Eventually McGeary turned away hobbling and the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
With the win, Nemkov extended his winning streak to four consecutive fights. He’s now 2-0 inside the Bellator cage and a contender in the division.
Kicking off the main card, featherweight Tywan Claxton grounded and pounded Jose Perez to a second-round finish. “Speedy” advanced his record to 2-0 with two finishes.
– Matt Mitrione def. Roy Nelson by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
– Patricky Freire def. Derek Campos by TKO (punches) at 2:23, R1
– Heather Hardy def. Ana Julaton by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
– Vadim Nemkov def. Liam McGeary by TKO (leg kicks) at 4:02, R3
– Tywan Claxton def. Jose Perez by TKO (elbows) at 3:39, R2
– Ross Richardson def. Ronie Arana Leon by TKO (punches) at 1:41, R2
– Mike Kimbel def. Geoffrey Then by TKO (slam and punches) at 1:03, R1
– Regivaldo Carvalho def. Thomas English by KO (punches) at 0:17, R1
– Jarod Trice def. Walter Howard by majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
– Marcus Surin def. Dean Hancock by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 4:50, R2
– Kastriot Xhema def. Peter Nascimento by TKO (punches) at 3:52, R1
– Pat Casey def. Tyler Hamilton by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)