With a drastically reduced MMA schedule over these last few months, Bloody Elbow’s European MMA writer, Scott Lagdon, has been 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 has had 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. The last installment of the series highlights rising Bellator prospect, Fabian Edwards.
Fight (with records at the time): Fabian Edwards (6-0) v Falco Neto Lopes (11-9) - Middleweight
Event: Bellator Birmingham in Birmingham, England
Date: 4th May 2019
Bellator’s first ever trip to the city of Birmingham had a main card filled with highlight-reel finishes as part of the promotion’s sophomore outing in their European Series. One of those was delivered in the evening’s co-main event and it demonstrated to fans that one of Europe’s most talked about talents, Fabian Edwards, was able to pull a finish out of the bag from anywhere. Edwards (brother of top UFC welterweight Leon) was signed to Bellator as a part of their significant push into the market and emerged victorious in the first fight of that deal against former Cage Warriors middleweight champion, Lee Chadwick. His opponent, Neto Lopes, had an inconsistent record but was coming off of a TKO victory in his native Portugal.
An early leg kick from Neto Lopes landed and Edwards returned with a left hand to the body. Shortly after, Neto Lopes shot for a takedown and pursued a single leg which Edwards defended well against the cage. However, the Portuguese fighter managed to keep hold of Edwards and attempted another single leg but Edwards rolled for a kimura. Neto Lopes ended up on top and passed to side control before connecting with some elbows to the body. Edwards managed to escape, gain separation and return to the feet.
The Englishman then attempted a left high kick and Neto Lopes just grazed his adversary with a right hand. Edwards jumped in with a flying knee but Neto Lopes caught it and pushed him onto the fence. After offering some resistance, Neto scored a takedown from the body lock and established half guard. Edwards managed to prevent him from advancing position and Neto Lopes got back to his feet. Almost immediately, Edwards landed an upkick and quickly followed it up with a second. Neto Lopes kept his head in the same position so Edwards threw a third which connected flush with his opponent’s chin. He was badly rocked and Edwards proceeded to jump to his feet in pursuit of the finish. Edwards landed with a left hand which floored Neto Lopes and the fight was brought to a close. It was a successful performance for Edwards in front of a partisan crowd and he achieved almost exactly what he wanted to leading up to the fight.
“The only thought I always have before I compete is to go in there and try to get the finish,” explained Edwards. “I remember him being strong but I also recall that when we broke from exchanges, I could see that he was tired. Even if the finish hadn’t have come, I knew that he wasn’t going to last another round. He was f—ked!”
“Fighting in front of my hometown is the only thing that I took away from that bout,” continued Edwards. “That comes with pressure but I dealt with it well. After experiencing that and being so calm, nothing else can really touch you that much.”
“When I faced Fabian Edwards in Birmingham, I was controlling the fight with my wrestling and ground game,” discussed Neto Lopes. “I managed to impose my game and completely cancel out my opponent’s. Edwards was getting frustrated and I could feel it! Towards the end of the first round, I was trying to pass guard and land some ground and pound to finish dominantly. However, he surprised me with one strong upkick and I immediately felt it. My response was to try and advance my position still but he landed more upkicks. I lost my balance and he hit me with a punch.”
“I am a BJJ black belt but I made a big mistake so congratulations to Edwards for taking advantage of that opportunity,” continued Neto Lopes. “I wish him all the best. You can count on the fact that I will come back stronger than ever and you will be able to see my full potential.”
It should be noted that after this fight, Neto Lopes failed his in-competition drug test for metabolites of the steroids methyltestosterone and nandrolone. He was handed a six-month suspension and a $2,500 fine.
Edwards went on to claim a unanimous decision victory over Jonathan Bosuku around one month later before overcoming bitter rival, Mike Shipman, in a very close bout last November to remain undefeated. He was scheduled to fight fellow European standout, Costello van Steenis, in May but the show got cancelled due to the current global pandemic.
After serving his suspension, Neto Lopes returned in February but was defeated by Marcos Yoshio Souza in Rizin by first round TKO.