Bellator Fighting Championships returns TONIGHT (July 31, 2013) at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, with the Summer Series featuring two title fights, two tournament finals and a tournament semifinal.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of Bellator 97 below, beginning with the Spike TV telecast at 7 p.m. ET. In addition, we'll deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the undercard action much earlier in the evening (beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET), as well as a live stream of the preliminary action.
Headlining the main event will be a lightweight title fight featuring top-ranked champion Michael Chandler defending his belt against season eight tournament winner David Rickels. Rickels stepped up on eight week's notice after season seven lightweight tournament winner Dave Jansen went down with a knee injury, having to drop 50 pounds from his original training camp weight.
Also on tap will be a welterweight title fight pitting a pair of undefeated fighters as champion Ben Askren looks to defend his crown against elite Russian prospect Andrey Koreshkov. Koreshkov won the season seven welterweight tournament, defeating the likes of Jordan Smith, Marius Zaromskis and former champion Lyman Good in the process. Koreshkov promises he won't break like Askren's previous opponents.
Last but not least, a pair of tournament finals will take place as highly touted signing Muhammed Lawal vies for the Summer Series light heavyweight tournament crown against rival Jacob Noe while much ballyhooed Russian heavyweight prospect Vitaly Minakov challenges Ryan Martinez for the Summer Series heavyweight tournament championship.
Complete Bellator 97 quick results and live play-by-play are posted below!
155 lb. title: Michael Chandler def. David Rickels via knockout (punches) at 0:44 of round one
170 lb. title: Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreschkov via TKO (accumulation) at 2:59 of round four
205 lbs.: King Mo def. Jacob Noe via TKO (punches) at 2:51 of round three
265 lbs.: Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez via TKO (punches) at 4:02 of round three
145 lbs.: Patricio Pitbull def. Jared Downing via TKO (punches) at 0:54 of round two
158 lbs.: Will Brooks def. Cris Leyva via TKO (punches) at 2:20 of round three
135 lbs.: Rafael Silva def. Rodrigo Lima via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:03 of round three
135 lbs.: Anthony Leone def. Frank Baca via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:07 of round three
155 lbs.: Bubba Jenkins def. Mike Barreras via TKO (punches) at 1:05 of round two
190 lbs.: Jeremy Kimball def. Keith Berry via knockout at 1:45 of round two
135 lbs.: Shawn Bunch def. Russell Wilson via split decision
150 lbs.: Javier Palacios vs. Richard Jacques via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Adrian Cruz vs. Felipe Chavez via TKO at 4:24 of round two
145 lbs.: Donald Sanchez def. Cliff Wright Jr. via split decision
155 lb. title: Michael Chandler vs. David Rickels
Round one: Leg kicks from Rickels and both men trade punches briefly before Rickels backs off and fires another leg kick. Both men trade on the inside and Chandler blasts Rickels with a right hand! Rickels is in trouble and he cracks Rickels again with another right hand and this time Rickels drops to the canvas. Some follow-up punches and Rickels is out cold. Damn Michael Chandler is so good.
Final Result: Michael Chandler defeats David Rickels via knockout at 0:44 of round one
170 lb. title: Ben Askren vs. Andrey Koreschkov
Round one: Askren shoots in for a takedown and Koreshkov stuffs it. Askren stays on him and and Koreshkov tries hard to prevent the takedown but Askren is on top of him. Askren is working hard for a choke and he drops back for a guillotine choke, surrending top position but can't finish the choke. Askren gives up on it but moves to top position again although Koreshkov fights back to his feet along the fence. Askren doing his funky thing, working from top position and scrambling with Koreshkov constantly. Askren tries to take Koreshkov's back and sink in a choke but Koreshkov defends it. Koreshkov is getting manhandled right now. Koreshkov turtles but Askren stays with him, working some unique positions and drops some elbows and punches to the body. Koreshkov wings a pair of reverse elbows at the bell. 10-9 Askren
Round two: Askren shoots in for a takedown and Koreshkov tries to take top position, potentially taking his back but Askren forces a scramble and easily takes top position. Askren takes Koreshkov's back and sinks in both hooks, dropping short punches and starting a "USA" chant from on top of Koreshkov. Koreshkov is not enjoying himself and Askren transitions to side control, just all over him from top position and dropping occasional punches. Askren gets a crucifix and drops some light punches until the bell. That was pure dominance. 10-8 Askren
Round three: Askren shoots in for a takedown and Koreshkov throws a heavy knee, but Askren absorbs it partially and just drags him down. Askren immediately takes Koreshkov's back and drops short punches. Koreshkov is starting to swell up a bit. Askren stands up briefly and drops some more light punches and he thinks about a rear naked choke but gives up on it. Askren wraps up Koreshkov's arm and drops some right hands and elbows. Askren throws light punches again and the crowd boos. Koreshkov tries to get back to his feet but Askren just stays right on him even as he rolls. Askren looks up and stares at the crowd as the round concludes. 10-8 Askren
Round four: Askren immediately takes Koreshkov down, passing to full mount and locking in an arm triangle choke. Askren passes to side control looking for the finish but Koreshkov is at an odd angle along the fence. Askren passes to full mount, dropping some punches. Askren asks the ref how much longer he needs to hit Koreshkov before he'll stop it. Askren takes back mount on Koreshkov and drops some short strikes to the side of the head. Some double punches from Askren and the referee warns Koreshkov to move and fight back but he doesn't and the referee puts a stop to it.
Final Result: Ben Askren defeats Andrey Koreshkov via TKO (accumulation) at 2:59 of round four
205 lbs.: King Mo vs. Jacob Noe
Round one: Noe opens with a leg kick and then another that both land clean. Mo wastes no time shooting in for a takedown and putting Noe on his back with ease. Mo throws some left hands from top position and he quickly passes to side control. Noe gets to his knees and pops to his feet but Mo again shoots in and takes him down. Noe has his back to the fence sitting up and he throws a knee to the legs. Noe pops up and Mo again works for a takedown, getting it along the fence although Noe is able to get to his feet, eating a knee to the body for his effort. Mo shoots in again, blasting Noe to the canvas. This time Noe is stuck on his back as Mo hangs out in half guard. Mo drops some left hands and Noe covers up briefly. Noe cannot escape Mo's hip pressure here and he keeps eating left hands. Mo stays on top until the end of the round. 10-9 King Mo
Round two: Noe wings an inside leg kick and Mo steps inside with a right hand, transitioning to a takedown. Noe retains guard with a guillotine attempt. Mo looks for ground and pound within Noe's guard and Noe throws his legs up looking for an armbar but he leaves too much space and Mo slips free. Big right hand from Mo and he's staying on top but not doing as much damage as before. Mo passes to half guard and Noe is starting to bleed. Good left hands from Mo and he's opening up now. Noe is wilting and Mo can finish if he turns it on. Mo continues dominating until the bell. 10-9 King Mo
Round three: Mo shoots in from the cage center and takes Noe down again, landing on top in half guard along the fence. Noe tries to get up but Mo lands a big left hand and a huge knee on the way up. Mo lands a big left jab and a huge right hand and Noe is hurt badly. Noe's bleeding heavily under his left eye. Mo shoots in and takes Noe down again. The finish is imminent if he turns it on. Mo throws some ground and pound and the ref steps in with a mercy stoppage.
Final Result: King Mo defeats Jacob Noe via TKO (punches) at 2:51 of round three
265 lbs.: Ryan Martinez vs. Vitaly Minakov
Round one: Minakov wades in with a left hand and he initiates a clinch along the fence. Minakov looks for a trip and scores with a short right hand. Minakov throws a knee but Martinez pushes him backwards and goes for a brief guillotine attempt before giving up on it. Minakov steps inside with a right hand and a spinning back fist as Martinez bides his time on the outside. Martinez fires a left hook but Minakov steps forward and lands an inside trip takedown. Martinez works back to his feet but eats a big knee on the way up. Martinez responds with stepping forward with a good left hand, but Minakov clinches and presses him into the fence. Minakov backs off and throws a right hand, but Martinez responds with a left uppercut. Right hand from Minakov but Martinez responds with left and right hooks stepping forward. Minakov clinches until time expires. 10-9 Minakov
Round two: Minakov takes control of the cage center and Martinez is bleeding pretty heavily out of his nose. Both men trade left hands and Minakov steps inside with a right hand. They jockey for position looking for takedowns. Minakov lands a knee to the groin and we take a break. Wow, the ref deducts a point from Minakov without having given him a warning. Neither man is scoring with anything significant yet as they try to find an opening. Minakov is starting to flash a left jab on the outside whenever Martinez leaves an opening. Martinez connects with a left hand counter but eats a right hand for his trouble. Minakov steps inside with a knee and Martinez circles away. Minakov presses Martinez into the fence throwing short knees until the bell. 9-9
Round three: Good right hand from Martinez to get things started and Minakov goes back to stalking from the cage center. Martinez wings some clubbing hooks and they clinch with Minakov landing a nice knee. Martinez again lands a right hook but Minakov pressures forward with some big punches and clinches, taking Martinez down with a trip along the fence. Minakov passes to half guard and he's nearly in full mount. Martinez looks gassed and Minakov lands some heavy punches. Minakov postures up in full mount and drops right hands and a left elbow. Minakov is just overpowering Martinez now and he's beating Martinez up. Minakov unloads huge right hands and Martinez is done, the ref steps in and puts a stop to it.
Final Result: Vitaly Minakov defeats Ryan Martinez via TKO (punches) at 4:02 of round three
145 lbs.: Jared Downing vs. Patricio Pitbull
Round one: Both men come out swinging and Pitbull blasts Downing with a sharp inside hook. Downing is dazed and Pitbull grabs a guillotine choke. Pitbull pulls guard with the choke but Downing slips free and he's on top. Pitbull works his way back to his feet and the ref separates them along the fence. Downing is stepping forward but Pitbull lands another inside shot. Another right hand from Pitbull drops Downing but he pops right back up. Pitbull throws a nice combination along the fence but Downing grabs a body lock to clear the cobwebs and he's looking for a takedown. Downing takes Pitbull down at the end of the round. 10-9 Pitbull
Round two: Pitbull looking for the knockout and he clocks Downing with a massive right hand. Downing pops to his feet and Pitbull levels him again! Good lord, Downing has no quit in him and he pops up one last time and Pitbull flattens him for the third time in 30 seconds and the ref puts a stop to it. Daaaamn.
Final Result: Patricio Pitbull defeats Jared Downing via TKO (punches) at 0:54 of round two