Bellator's latest night of action both started and ended with a bang. The first few Featherweight tournament quarterfinals were exciting fights with big finishes, while Alexander Shlemenko closed the night with another impressive finish, this time claiming the Bellator Middleweight title along the way. The only downer of the night was a tournament fight between Akop Stepanyan and Marlon Sandro that didn't quite deliver, but on the whole, this was a very good show. After tonight, the Featherweight semifinals are set, with Marlon Sandro vs. Frodo Khasbulaev and Mike Richman vs. Alexandre Bezerra. Join us next week for continued coverage of Bellator season 8.
Alexander Shlemenko defeats Maiquel Falcao by KO (punches) round 2, 2:18
Shlemenko becomes the new Bellator Middleweight champion with a very impressive stoppage in round 2, handing Falcao his first Bellator loss. The two strikers fought evenly through round 1, with both men trying to find the openings. In round 2, Shlemenko stepped up his attack, targeting Falcao's body with some heavy shots. Those body shots dropped the Brazilian, Shlemenko followed up with some ground and pound first to the body, then to the head, and Falcao was out. Very nice work from the new champion.
Marlon Sandro defeats Akop Stepanyan by majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
I am a fan of Marlon Sandro, but this is not the way I wanted to see him move on to the semifinals. The Brazilian veteran looked lethargic and out of his element here, particularly in round 2 where he was consistently oustruck by Stepanyan. However, despite controlling that round, Stepanyan earned a 1 point deduction in that round for repeatedly grabbing the cage (nice bit of officiating to take the point there). Sandro took advantage of that opening by grounding Stepanyan in round 3 and controlling his way to a majority decision. While he may have won tonight, this fight pretty clearly showed that Sandro's best days are behind him, and I don't see this tournament going well for him.
Mike Richman defeats Mitch Jackson by TKO round 1, 4:57
This fight was just a matter of one man being flat out superior to the other. Mike Richman proved that he was the better man tonight, outstriking Jackson, controlling him on the mat, then pounding him out for the win. Richman's combination of speed and power in his striking game is impressive, and though he was knocked out in the last Bellator tournament, I like his chances this time around.
Alexandre Bezerra defeats Genair da Silva by submission (armbar) round 1, 1:40
This tournament quarterfinal saw two skilled strikers doing battle. But in the end, it was the superior grappling skills of Bezerra that got the job done. Bezerra took an early advantage with strikes, dropping Silva early. When Genair came back to secure top position, his ground disadvantage betrayed him, as he became too aggressive, allowing Bezerra to lock up the arm for the tapout. Good, short fight and a nice performance from Bezerra.
Frodo Khasbulaev defeats Fabricio Guerreiro by submission (arm triangle choke) round 2, 1:15