Bellator Fighting Championships went to Kingston, Rhode Island last night (Nov. 16, 2012) as two tournament finalists were crowned, although not without a bit of controversy.
In the main event of the evening, submission specialists Rich Clementi and Marcin Held duked it out in one of the more unique fights of 2012. Held was primarily a leg lock-based fighter while Clementi has spent the majority of his 13+ career submitting opponents on the ground.
In the first round, both men completely tangled themselves up with legs everywhere as Held and Clementi both attempted to finish the fight with leg locks. Held attacked with toe holds, kneebars and heel hooks and then both men traded inverted heel hook attempts but they were too experienced to get tapped out. Held remained the aggressor though and he even mixed in a few sweeps to take the first round.
In the second, Clementi utilized his wrestling advantage, taking Held down and controlling him from half guard for a couple minutes, although he didn't do much with the position. After giving the Polish fighter a small window of space, Held did a reverse somersault and again latched onto one of Clementi's legs with a toe hold. This time, Clementi lost his grips and failed to straighten out his leg as he was visibly in pain (pictured above) and was forced to tap out.
In the other lightweight semifinal, Dave Jansen took on well-rounded Ricardo Tirloni in a thrilling back and forth battle. Jansen had the upper hand early, dropping Tirloni in one of their first exchanges and battering the Brazilian with heavy leg kicks. He outlasted some strong striking in the middle of the first round to take Tirloni's back standing and suplex him a few times at the end of the round.
In rounds two and three, the strong striking that Tirloni showcased in the middle of the first round took over. Tirloni was the more technical striker on the feet, landing solidly with his lead left jab all night but then following up with crisp combinations. Despite the power in his strikes, Jansen had a chin of solid granite as he was caught repeatedly with heavy shots and never was hurt.
Jansen tried to score some takedowns and mix up his striking with uppercuts and 1-2 combinations, but Tirloni did a very good job of fending him off and countering his occasional aggression with swift and accurate strikes.
Surprisingly, the fight went to a split decision when most everyone had scored the bout 29-28 Tirloni. Unfortunately for Tirloni, the judges sided with Jansen 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 in a very controversial ruling. A visibly dejected Tirloni stormed out of the Bellator cage and you had to feel for him considering his solid performance.
The lightweight tournament finals will be Marcin Held vs. Dave Jansen.
Popular Nova Uniao featherweight Marlon Sandro returned to action last night against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 14 alumni Dustin Neace. Neace stood no match for "The Gladiator" as Sandro quickly closed the distance with his striking, scoring a takedown and attacking Neace's neck. Despite not having his hooks in until the very last second, Sandro choked the journeyman fighter unconscious in just over two minutes total.
The 35 year old has still got some gas left in the tank.
Lastly, in the opening bout of the evening, young middleweight prospects battled it out as 23-year old Perry Filkins took on 20 year old German prospect Jonas Billstein. Filkins controlled the early exchanges, countering effectively and taking the center of the cage. His left hand repeatedly found a home whenever Billstein attempted to come inside.
In the second round, Billstein was the more active fighter, mixing up his attack with punches, leg kicks and knees as he evened out the scorecards, but he couldn't keep his momentum in the third. After landing a pretty significant snap kick to the face, Billstein couldn't follow up and Filkins responded by going crazy in the cage, clowning Billstein and hurting him with a series of aggressive left and right hands.
Late attempts to take the fight to the ground by Billstein were unsuccessful and he puzzlingly pulled guard after failing to put his opponent on his back. Filkins gleefully took the top position which had been giftwrapped for him and finished the fight in full mount dropping big elbows and punches to take a unanimous decision victory.
So what did you think about the fights last night, Maniacs?
Did Jansen deserve the split decision against Tirloni? What do you make of the lightweight tournament finals? Who will earn that title shot next month?