Bellator 171 "Guillard vs. Njokuani" took place last night (Fri., Jan. 27, 2017) at Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas. A mercurial mixed martial arts (MMA) star with big punching power to match his big mouth headlined the card against a sterling striker.
"The Young Assassin" Melvin Guillard has been around the sport so long even he might have forgotten where he started, having taking 53 fights at only 33 years old. Upcoming striker Chidi "Bang Bang" Njokuani was looking to take advantage of the veteran live on Spike TV.
A bizarre first round saw "Big" John McCarthy warn both fighters for inactivity, stop the fight when Njokuani got kneed in the cup, and stop it again when Njokuani landed an accidentally foul knee after Guillard stopped getting up and fell back on his butt. Regardless, Njokuani clearly used his size and reach to outstrike the smaller Guillard throughout.
Things went downhill for Guillard very quickly. A failed takedown attempt put Njokuani on top 42 seconds into the second round, and after being eaten up on the ground until a standup at 4:20, Guillard got hit with a liver kick late that made him double over in pain. He survived but that blow clearly made it a 10-8 frame for Njokuani.
Guillard offered nothing in Round 3 and virtually nothing overall in a blowout 30-25, 30-24, 30-26 loss. No interview followed nor was necessary - Njokuani's domination was self-explanatory.
"The Caveman" David Rickels has had six of his last seven fights in this same venue, proving his value as a local draw, but he'd have to prove his mettle as a fighter taking on Aaron Derrow, eager to rise above journeyman status with the biggest win of his career and third straight victory in a row. First though, Rickels wanted to put on a show!
Once the theatrics were over Rickels hurt Derrow with a left hand 17 seconds into the fight, swarmed on the ground with rights, then fell into a pattern of pulling out of submissions and jumping back on top with a body shot and elbows. It was a fairly lopsided beating until Rickels called for a stand-up and gave up a takedown with 40 seconds left.
For Derrow, the beating only got worse from there. He shot for a takedown early in Round 2 and got no part of it, then got wobbled by a jumping left hand and eaten up on the ground for a monster beating worthy of a 10-8 round. Derrow mustered enough determination to come out for the third and got finished via TKO 44 seconds later.
"The Caveman" spoke to Jimmy Smith as the partisan crowd roared in Mulvane.
"Man! It was an epic entrance! I can't wait to re-watch that! Give me the fights, give me whoever wants it, 155, 170, let's get it baby! The whole kitchen sink bro. I dropped him in the first 20 seconds, I knew he was tough, I seen a couple of his fights where he came back and triangled guys. Quite honestly I feel like I'm top tier baby. I want to get in there with the best of the best. 'Caveman' ain't no punk son!"
"Mercenary" A.J. McKee made a quick turnaround following his Bellator fight in December looking to dish out another one-sided beating and improve to 7-0, but the experienced 6-2 Brandon Phillips looked to give him another good test.
The first round was McKee's from the opening bell as he used striking at range, although Phillips was periodically catching him with leg kicks and taunting with his hands. He got incrementally better with each passing minute.
The next two rounds saw Phillips trying to pressure his way into a brawl, with McKee intent to stay at range with his reach and spinning kicks. But after a third round with two takedowns it was up to the judges.
McKee received the unanimous 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 decision but no post-fight interview, so perhaps you'd like to read ours with "The Mercenary" instead. Either way, McKee leaves with the satisfaction of remaining undefeated.
Jessica Middleton thrilled the crowd in Mulvane with a successful debut against Bruna Ellen last year, but the Wichita native would have her hands full last night facing eight-fight MMA veteran Alice Yauger.
Yauger was game in the first round, but in the second frame she began to show her age (10 years the elder) and average career production, as she got cracked with multiple right hands. A single leg gave her hope early in the third but Middleton escaped, took the back, and fished for submissions for the rest of the round.
One thing is for certain for Yauger -- even in the exchanges that she lost she gave as good as she got.
Yauger lost the decision but won a lot of respect for her grit as Middleton took it 29-28, 30-26, and 30-26. Jimmy Smith spoke to Middleton after a thrilling fight in Mulvane.
"Blood and pain, isn't that what you guys wanted? Pretty bloody huh. I won't lie the first round I was like 'holy crap.' I'm not happy with my performance, I could have done a lot better. Thank you guys for coming out, you all were great. It feels awesome. I'm ready for any flyweight. Whoever wants to go -- I'm good with it."
These bouts were paired with exciting "preliminary" action that aired exclusively online.
For complete Bellator 171 results and coverage click here.