Bellator 185 “Mousasi vs. Shlemenko" took place last night (Fri., Oct. 20, 2017) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Four ex-champions were in action live on Spike TV as they all sought another chance to regain their former glory by moving into title contention status.
Former Bellator Middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko had a seven fight unbeaten streak dating back to losing the title to Brandon Halsey in 2014, but with only two of those fights occurring in Bellator and one being a no contest, he’d need a really big win to get a title shot.
Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi was looking for the same in his promotional debut, having walked away from UFC after five consecutive wins in a row.
An overhand left from Shlemenko managed to swell Mousasi’s right eye shut, but that didn’t stop him from getting multiple takedowns and fishing for neck cranks and rear naked chokes. If Shlemenko had done more damage he might have stolen the round but he spent more time than not on defense trying not to get tapped out.
Mousasi had a much harder time getting the takedowns in R2, and Shlemenko connected several times with his spinning backfist and back kick. Mousasi did score a late takedown and fished for submissions in the last minute but ultimately conceded most of the round to the Russian.
Shlemenko had a dominant third round as Mousasi couldn’t see anything out of his right eye and continually got cracked with lefts and backfists, and the takedown strategy finally didn’t work for Mousasi. At one point late in the frame he visibly flopped to his back hoping Shlemenko would jump on top. He drove a knee home to the ribs instead.
Ultimately all three judges decided Mousasi had still won two out of three rounds, giving him a 29-28 unanimous decision that some in the crowd rudely disagreed with. Nevertheless the winner spoke to Jimmy Smith afterward.
“He’s a big puncher, 2 to 1. I had a lot of pressure coming in but yeah the eye is shut down, I had to fight on instincts.”
Looking to remain undefeated in his MMA career, Neiman Gracie put his perfect 6-0 record on the line against the 18-8 late replacement fighter Zak Bucia.
The good news for Bucia is he survived the first round. The bad news is he had his back taken a minute in and was on defense avoiding a rear naked choke for the next two and a half. Even when he turned on top of Gracie he wasn’t out of danger as the BJJ expert looked for an omoplata, a heel hook and a knee bar. Bucia clearly lost the round.
Things did not get better for Bucia from there. Not only did he get taken down 56 seconds into the round, he got away with an illegal grab of the fence trying to block being taken down again — and it didn’t even work. This time Gracie didn’t try to get the RNC, going for a neck crank instead that caused Bucia to tap at 2:27.
Gracie spoke to Jimmy Smith after getting his sixth submission and improving to 7-0.
“So before I say anything about the finish, I want to thank my opponent because he took the fight on short notice. He’s a true warrior, he has almost 30 fights, so thank you to Zak. I wasn’t able to sink the hand under his neck, so I had to look for something else, and I went for the neck crank. I was able to do it and I’m really happy. The future is to keep representing, keep the legacy alive. It doesn’t matter how many years, we’re always going to have a Gracie representing.”
Undefeated pro boxer turned MMA fighter Heather Hardy was also looking to follow up on a win in her last fight, a dominant striking performance against Alice Yauger at Bellator NYC. To do so she’d have to beat Kristina Williams in her first professional mixed martial arts bout.
Despite being the more experienced fighter on paper, Hardy was out struck by Williams throughout the first round. Hardy wound up with a bloody mouth after eating numerous kicks to the head and body, forcing a doctor to take a look at her before round two could begin.
That same doctor would ultimately call a stop to the fight after Williams landed an explosive kick to the face that shattered Hardy’s nose, sending blood spraying everywhere. Todd Anderson called time and seconds later the fight was waved off. The official time of the stoppage was 2:00.
Jimmy Smith spoke to Williams after winning her first fight as a pro.
“I feel really comfortable when I get in the cage, it’s just my place. I was training for her overhand right in boxing so yeah I followed my game plan and it worked out. I’m ready for anyone.”
Hardy wasn’t the only pro boxer making noise in Bellator’s Flyweight division on this card, as former WBO Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight champion Ana Julaton put her 2-2 record in MMA up against the less experienced 1-0 fighter “Insane” Lisa Blaine.
When the first round stayed at kicking range, Julaton looked more like a kickboxer than a boxer OR a MMA fighter. Once Blaine hit a takedown and got side control, she looked like the better fighter, even going for a guillotine as Julaton got back to her feet, but by doing it in the last minute she had conceded much of the round to Julaton.
The second round started with Julaton going for a takedown and Blaine going for a guillotine early. Neither achieves their goal and a long stalemate against the fence forced Bryan Miner to reset them at the center. Julaton attacked with kicks. Blaine got a takedown but got swept with a minute left, narrowly edging the round to Julaton.
Blaine had her best performance of the fight in the third round, getting the takedown at 1:01 and posturing up to land elbows. Julaton didn’t get off her back until there were 36 seconds left so she may have conceded the round but the judges still had to give their scores for the fight as a whole. Blaine narrowly edged out the split decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
A scratched fight at Bellator 185 made room for Bellator veteran Ryan Quinn (13-7-1) to take on promotional newcomer Marcus Surin (4-0) on the main card at Lightweight.
Quinn pushed the pressure early, closing the distance and not allowing the KO artist Surin to strike at range, then going for and getting takedowns. Surin tried to roll a couple of times to escape but each time Quinn outmaneuvered him, then got another takedown when Surin got up and nearly sunk in a rear naked choke. It was a strong R1 for Quinn.
Quinn continued to out wrestle Surin for the entirety of the second round, going for another rear naked choke early in the round, but content to dump Surin repeatedly for the rest of the frame. Surin sprawled and reversed a takedown in Round 3, got on top looking for a rear-naked choke of his own, but when he slid off Quinn nearly got an anaconda. Ultimately this war went to the judges.
All three were impressed by Quinn’s wrestling and submission attempts, awarding him the unanimous 29-28 decision.
For complete Bellator 185 results and coverage click here.