Bellator Fighting Championships returned for round eight on Spike TV last night (March 7, 2013) with a the season eight featherweight and middleweight semifinals.
The 36 year old Sandro was trying to remain a player in Bellator's featherweight division while the 26 year old Khasbualev was looking to perhaps become one of the new faces of the promotion's list of top prospects.
And boy, did the Russian shine.
From start to finish, Khasbulaev but incredible pressure on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, forcing Sandro to fight off his back feet and repeatedly closing the distance looking for takedowns, submissions and heavy punches on the ground.
Even a brutal low blow from Sandro, which knocked the RusFighter standout out of commission for a full five minutes couldn't slow down his momentum.
The bout featured a wide assortment of exciting grappling exchanges where both men trades submissions attempts, sweeps and reversals in a great display of scrambling featuring Russian combat sambo against Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Sandro's best moment came in the second round when he took Khasbulaev's back, working for an arm triangle choke, but he couldn't lock it in and was eventually reversed and punched repeatedly. "Frodo" took the initiative in the third round, going after Sandro with a crazy flurry of punches, flying knees, spinning back fists and serious forward pressure to force the Nova Uniao fighter to wilt.
After one final takedown, Khasbulaev began dropping heavy right hands and Sandro was no longer fighting back. Despite a warning from the referee to respond to Khasbulaev's attack, Sandro remained in a defensive position and Big John McCarthy was forced to put an end to the bout at the midway point of the third round.