Bellator 162: "Shlemenko vs. Grove" came to FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., last night (Fri., Oct. 21, 2016) live on Spike TV. The card was headlined by two key fights at middleweight and heavyweight.
Former TUF winner Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove was on a two fight win streak in Bellator (both coming by knockout) coming into the main event, but former champion Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko had something to prove after over a year away. Who would prevail in this epic clash?
The first round saw both men have their moments, each scoring hard blows to the head, though Shlemenko arguably won more of the exchanges. Shlemenko's spinning strikes kept Grove guessing even when he had an advantage with his reach.
In the second round the scorecards were academic once Shlemenko landed a left to the liver and a right hook to the chin, leaving Grove unable to stand up and Shlemenko to storm in and get the TKO at 1:43.
Shlemenko and his translator spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"I always was confident. Thank you guys. I think Melvin (Manhoef) will win and I want Melvin again."
All of the fights ran short on tonight's main card but thankfully Bellator prepared a "debate" between Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz to fill some time.
Chael Sonnen: "January 21st, the 'Bad Boy' versus the 'Bad Guy.' It's been 20 years in the waiting. Tito's car just got repossessed a week ago. I heard that he try to sell some suits to make good on the car but nobody had a size 52 stupid."
Tito Ortiz: "Go ahead and check my Instagram at TitoOrtiz1999 and that'll answer that fool's complete gas. All I hear is gas coming out of his ass, and it's not his butt. He's been dominated by Hall of Famers, former world champions, and it's going to happen again on January 21st. He's picked the wrong guy. I've been waiting for this fight to happen. I'm happy that he's going to come up to 205. Finally he has enough balls to step up and do it. It's gonna be painful."
Chael Sonnen: "Listen Tito Ortiz was the world champion when my father passed away and I made him one final promise on his death bed and hand to God this is a true story I said 'Dad I am going to beat Tito Ortiz and I'm gonna be the world champion. It's the one promise that I never kept and on January 21st I'm gonna make that right."
Tito Ortiz: "On January 21st Chael Sonnen is going to get smashed. That is the way I do inside the cage, kicking ass and taking names -- and Chael Sonnen you're next."
Heavyweight contender Bobby Lashley looked to notch his eighth-straight win and possibly a shot at the vacant title, but Bellator veteran Josh Appelt was not going to make it easy for him.
Lashley pitched a shutout in the first round, out striking him and out-wrestling him, forcing referee Blake Grice to warn Appelt to fight back several times. He did just enough to survive Round 1 but had his face battered for his efforts. A quick takedown in Round 2 ensured Appelt couldn't try to last until the bell a second time, as he gave up his back and tapped to the rear naked choke at 1:43.
Lashley spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"I've got the 'King' in my corner and Josh Barnett in my corner, he's always been by my side. So many people to thank man, it feels good. I was trying to go for a submission the whole time, he's a strong guy, but I just kept hitting him 'til I opened something up. I've got a lot of people to go after, first person is Eddie Edwards, but after that the heavyweight tournament is wide open. The powers that be, put me in it, I'm ready to go."
Judging by those remarks we'll all be reading about a Bellator heavyweight tournament sometime soon.
Two fighters looking to bounce back off recent losses had an important fight at lightweight as former featherweight Goiti Yamauchi met the son of a MMA legend, Ryan Couture.
Couture tried to come out fast and furious with strikes and drive Yamauchi into the fence for a takedown, but Yamauchi calmly worked off his back to throw his legs around Couture and grab the arm bar, tapping him out at 61 seconds as Jerry "The King" Lawler watched cageside.
Yamauchi spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"I'm a black belt and I was waiting for his reaction -- I was ready for that. I can attack from the bottom even if my opponent is good on the ground. I'm always ready. Look at me. I'm in my best shape. 155 pounds is my division and I'm here to stay."
To fill some time after the fight Jimmy Smith interviewed Liam McGeary by remote.
"Training is going well. I can not wait for November 4th to get here. I'm always mentally good. I just can't wait to get into a fight again, especially against a contender like Phil. I never really had fights consecutively so ring rust I'm not too bothered about (it). My jiu-jitsu -- we're trained by the best coaches in the world. I've been working a lot on my wrestling. I'm gonna make this hard for him. Every time he comes anywhere near me he's going to get an elbow, a fist, a knee. I want to knock his ass out man."
Middleweight star Hisaki Kato has never had a MMA fight end in anything other than a knockout - his opponent's or his. He'd look to repeat that kind of excitement against durable Bellator veteran A.J. Matthews.
Matthews seemed to have Kato on rubber legs after one furious exchange, wobbling him again after a simple jab, but his inability to land the finishing blow let Kato get his wind. After a stoppage for an eye poke Kato had even more time to clear his head, which lead him to land a head kick and an uppercut that sent Matthews reeling. He tried to get back up with short time but Kato rocked him again for a TKO at 4:58 of round one.
Kato spoke to Jimmy Smith after the bout.
"I like wars. He's a tough guy and a nice guy so I really respect him. He said he would bring the striking game (and) he did, I said I would too and I did, I hope you enjoyed that fight. I got a bit dizzy but it was not hard, I just knew I had to catch my breath for a second and then punch again. I will be like everybody tonight I will watch (Shlemenko vs. Grove) and enjoy that fight."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.
For complete Bellator 162 results and coverage click here.
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