Bellator 181 "Girtz vs. Campos 3" took place last night (Fri., July 14, 2017) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The main event was a unique opportunity for two lightweights to have a third and possibly final encounter in a division that just crowned a new champion.
Derek Campos seemingly had the advantage going in having won his last three fights in a row. The series between him and Brandon Girtz was tied at 1-1 though after Girtz knocked him out in 37 seconds the last time they met. This one would be fought at a catchweight of 158 lbs.
Both men had a chip on their shoulder and spent ten minutes of this fight trying to knock it off. Each time one man would get wobbled, his foe would respond with a shot that was just as staggering. Girtz tried to target liver kicks and liver punches, but he did more damage with his hands and sent Campos reeling backward.
Campos responded with a knee that split Girtz’ forehead wide open, leaving a cut that his corner could not stymie between rounds. Initially the doctor and referee John McCarthy allowed the fight to continue, leading to another “rock ‘em sock ‘em” second round between both men, but once that five minute stanza ended the gruesome cut caused a necessary medical stoppage.
Your official winner by TKO at five minutes of the second round due to a doctor’s stoppage is Derek “Stallion” Campos, picking up his fourth straight win and the 2-1 lead in the trilogy.
Campos spoke to Jimmy Smith after the conclusion of the main event even though some fans chanted rude remarks toward him about the stoppage.
“All BS aside over here, f—k that let me tell you, we just came in here shed blood with each other because we’re brothers — respect that. Unfortunately the cut was deep. The call by Big John, the medical team, they’re the professionals. It is a big cut so unfortunately it just got stopped otherwise we would have given y’all another third round to cheer on. I put it on the line every time I fight. I don’t leave nothing in here. I made a statement tonight, showing my heart and how tough I am. I only want to fight the best guys. Let’s have it. Pitbull (vs.) Henderson winner, I’m here all day baby.”
Girtz also got a little interview time after a great performance.
“It’s a tough thing to lose like that man. I wanted to keep fighting. It was a brawl out there and I wanted to keep putting my heart out there man. This hurts. This hurts bad. It was a war. Campos is the man man. I respect him. He gave me a hell of a fight. Thank you guys for coming.”
Stepping in at late notice to replace an injured fighter was Jessica Middleton (2-1), taking on the experienced 5-2 Bellator veteran Emile Ducote.
Middleton effectively stalled most of the takedown attempts in Round 1, but not enough of them to survive what had to be a 10-9 frame given no other offense occurred. The second went slightly better for Middleton as she swept her way on top from a full mount, but Ducote made her miserable with an arm bar submission attempt that left “Million Hits” Middleton in knots.
Our third and final round was one way traffic all favoring Ducote as she scored a leg trip takedown 11 seconds in, got full mount twice, and went hard for a rear-naked choke the second time she achieved it. Middleton survived both this attempt and a deep arm bar late in the fight but still lost a unanimous decision 29-27 and 29-28 X2.
Ducote spoke to Jimmy Smith after the bout.
“Oklahoma I love you! You guys were awesome. I hear you every time I’m in this cage. I don’t call people out, it’s not my style. So whoever they send the contract (for) is who I’m gonna focus on. There’s new girls, there’s old girls, I don’t care who I just like to fight.”
After this fight it was announced that Eduardo Dantas would defend his bantamweight title against Darrion Caldwell on October 6th at Bellator 184, with Daniel Straus vs. Emmanuel Sanchez in the co-main event. Two weeks later on October 20th Gegard Mousasi makes his Bellator debut as he takes on Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 185, with a co-main event of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Liam McGeary.
Mauro Ranallo and Jimmy Smith brought Matt Mitrione to cageside for an interview and asked him how he liked his big win over Fedor Emelianenko in New York City.
“It was an incredibly surreal experience. New York loves me, I had a great time in Manhattan, and the fact I knocked out the ‘GOAT’ in Madison Square Garden, it can’t get better than that. It was amazing man. The crowd was so pro ME. On top of that it’s Fedor, he’s so humble he’s so cool, I talked to him after that and everything was awesome.”
Self-described “Baddest Man on the Planet” Joe Warren sought to reaffirm that status in the familiar confines of WinStar, home to five out of his last eight fights, but rising bantamweight Steve Garcia stood in his way.
Warren took Garcia down 13 seconds into the first round and rode on his back for the remainder when he was finally able to stand up, clearly putting the first five minutes in his favor. Round two wasn’t much different. Garcia was able to stand up from the takedowns but wasn’t able to shake the bulldog-like tenacity of Warren’s arms around his waist, drawing several warnings from the referee for grabbing the cage.
The third round was more of the same. The only thing that changed was that Garcia tried to grab the fence with his toes instead of his hands late in the frame, but didn’t draw another warning for it. The judges had no trouble determining Warren was the winner of a 30-27 unanimous decision, sending us to Jimmy Smith for the post-fight interview.
“You know I just want to thank Viacom, Spike and Bellator. Thanks for having me come and get back in here. Listen, ‘Baddest Man’ is back. Hey that was a life or death win for me, I pulled it out. I hear you cheering. YEAHHH! You know Dantas, I’ve got the number three in mind. If I gotta come to Brazil to do it, or that Brazilian steakhouse you work at, put up that green flag to get another piece — I’MA GET SOME.”
Those weren’t cheers he was hearing in Thackerville. The winner doesn’t have to care whether the crowd liked it or not though because the winner’s purse is still his.
Also featured on the main card of Bellator 181 was a key middleweight fight between Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove and the streaking John Salter.
Grove’s strategy of keeping Salter at distance was effective early, but once Salter shot in hard for a double leg nearly four minutes in the taller Grove fell hard. In no time flat Salter had Grove’s back, tapping out the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with an impressive rear-naked choke at 4:37.
Jimmy Smith wanted to know Salter’s plans after his sixth straight win.
“Hey he’s a tough guy. I don’t know if you guys know this but he’s pretty long, kind of tough to deal with, but can we stop acting like I’m not the best 185er in Bellator now? I think Carvalho’s gotta stop running from me. I know he don’t wanna fight me but that man needs to be my next fight — after that, Gegard.”
For complete Bellator 181 results and coverage click here.