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Euro Fight Flashback: Pedro Carvalho’s breakout finish of Derek Campos at Bellator

The current featherweight title challenger burst onto the international scene when he stopped Campos in the first round.

Pedro Carvalho (centre) and his team

With a drastically reduced MMA schedule over the next few months expected, Bloody Elbow’s European MMA writer, Scott Lagdon, is diving down into the archives to highlight some of the wildest, weirdest and most fun fights from the continent that MMA fans may have missed out on. Whether it’s looking at the early careers of fighters who would go on to become international stars, or some hidden fight of the year candidates BE will have fans covered!

With a wealth of long-running promotions across Europe regularly putting on highly entertaining contests over the years, there’s tons to choose from. So, let us know if there’s anything that deserves a little extra attention.

Fight (with records at the time): Pedro Carvalho (9-3) v Derek Campos (19-8) - Featherweight

Event: Bellator Birmingham in Birmingham, England

Date: May 4th 2019

It was the sophomore outing for Bellator’s European Series as the promotion began their push to become a more regular fixture on the continent. As part of the evening’s main card, Bellator veteran, Derek Campos, was originally scheduled to fight Ryan Scope but the Englishman fell out due to an injury. SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho stepped up to take the late notice call and fill in against the most notable opponent of his career at that time. Carvalho was riding a four-fight winning streak going into the contest which included his first two wins in the promotion, whereas Campos was coming off of back-to-back losses against Patricky Pitbull and Sam Sicilia.

At the start of the fight, Campos threw a right hand and then a left landed for Carvalho. A solid jab found its home for Carvalho after the American winged two overhand rights. Campos attempted a single-leg takedown but Carvalho managed to defend it and got separation. Carvalho landed some more nice jabs before hitting Campos with a left kick to the body. He threw a second only moments after the first had landed which appeared to hurt Campos. Immediately, Carvalho followed up with some punches but was taken down to the mat and quickly got his back taken with both hooks in. However, Carvalho escaped quickly and both men ended up on their feet.

Carvalho landed a knee and followed up with some more solid punches. The beginning of the end came when Carvalho landed another left body kick, which was utilised effectively during the bout, and continued to move forward throwing strikes. Campos was dropped by a right hook before Carvalho swarmed him with more punches from the top position. Referee, Leon Roberts, deemed that Campos wasn’t intelligently defending himself so called a stop to the action. Despite being on such a big stage for the first time in his career gong into the fight, Carvalho approached the bout the same as he always did but knew there could be a big reward if he put on an impressive performance.

“I had no different thoughts to what I usually have going into that fight and I wanted to get the win as always,” recalled Carvalho. “However, I knew that I needed to put on the best performance of my career because there was the chance to enter the World Featherweight Grand Prix so I had to look impressive in the best way I possibly could. During the contest, I particularly remember the cracking sound of his ribs as a result of the body kicks I threw.”

“That was my first big fight against an internationally known opponent,” continued Carvalho. “I used to watch Campos’ fights when I was a teenager in Portugal and dreamed about competing on the big stage. As he walked out down the ramp and got into the cage, Pedro Carvalho the fighter switched off and Pedro Carvalho the MMA fan switched on for about ten seconds. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’m about to fight with Derek Campos, how fu—king awesome is this!’ Then I turned that fan mode off and went back to focusing on the task at hand.”

Following this victory, Carvalho was entered into the World Featherweight Grand Prix and submitted Sam Sicilia in the opening round. He was scheduled to fight for the title against Patricio Pitbull in the quarter-finals but the show was cancelled hours before it was supposed to happen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That bout is expected to be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Despite the loss, Campos was also part of the bracket for the World Featherweight Grand Prix and defeated former 145lbs champion, Daniel Straus, in the opening round by unanimous decision. However, he was eliminated in the quarter finals when he was submitted by top prospect, AJ McKee, in the third round.