Bellator 182 "Koreshkov vs. Njokuani" took place last night (Fri., Aug. 25, 2017) at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y. Two fights at Welterweight would help shape the division’s future as contenders line up behind Rory MacDonald for a shot at champion Douglas Lima.
Former champion Andrey Koreshkov was an obvious candidate for just such a shot, especially given Bellator loves their trilogy fights, but to earn it “Spartan” would have to defeat a streaking Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani, unbeaten in nine fights dating back to August 2013.
Njokuani was the taller and longer man coming into the fight and that usually plays to his advantage, but a hungry Koreshkov showed the kind of explosive striking that had put his opponent in the title hunt with a beautiful spinning backfist. Koreshkov followed it with a flying knee and his second takedown of the fight, and when he landed the third the ground-and-pound was too much for Njokuani. John McCarthy stopped the fight at 4:08 of Round 1 for Koreshkov by TKO.
Strangely no post-fight interview followed.
Bellator 182 also featured fan favorite “Irish Bad Boy” Brennan Ward, winner in five of his last seven bouts, against fellow Bellator veteran “The Menifee Maniac” Fernando Gonzalez, who edged Ward going into the night by winning six out of his last seven MMA fights.
Ward is usually a “stand and bang” fighter, but he was clearly haunted by the memory of his last fight with Paul Daley, opting to take a sensible approach and dance around Gonzalez, then take him down at opportune times, scoring over and over again through the first two rounds.
Bronx rapper Nine once warned other emcees about being “Ova Confident” and someone should have given Ward the same advice. He shot for another double in Round 3, Gonzalez put on a tight guillotine squeeze, and seconds later Ward tapped out at 1:02. He had the fight on ice and it all melted. No post-fight interview followed but a post-fight .gif will show you Gonzalez’s reaction.
Featherweight sensation “Mercenary” A.J. McKee always says he’s looking for tougher competition. The undefeated 8-0 prospect would get his wish facing the experienced 10-6 Blair Tugman, who was on a three-fight win streak coming into New York.
McKee made it look easy over the course of three rounds, routinely using his height and reach advantage to kick Tugman in the head, knee him in the body, and sprawled to block takedowns. Tugman’s lone moment of glory was in the third round when he attempted to lock up a guillotine on McKee’s own takedown attempt, but the blood spraying from his face all over McKee made it easier for “Mercenary” to pop his head free. The judges scored it 30-27 and 30-26 for McKee.
McKee was landing so many strikes he looked to have hurt his hand in the second round, and Jimmy Smith made sure to ask him about it afterward. He wanted to talk more about the Irish.
"I felt like a little crunch in the second round, and then I threw it again and I felt a pop so I thought ahh let me stop throwing that. Man for me next I'm trying to go to Ireland and beat up Princess Gallagher. Who's the real Irishman? We run this Octagon. Floyd go get that baby!"
Bellator’s exciting Flyweight division also put two of their mainstays on display. Veta Arteaga put her 3-1 record on the line against the 3-1 record of Bruna Ellen. Only one could keep pace in the quest to crown a Flyweight champion — the loser would fall well back to the end of the line.
A closely contested bout went all three rounds with many swings of momentum throughout. Arteaga was the more aggressive fighter coming forward in the first round, but Ellen was arguably landing the better strikes with counter shots. Ellen looked like she might be pulling away with a takedown in R2, but Arteaga swept to the top quickly and did enough damage with ground-and-pound she was ahead on CompuStrike going into Round 3. Arteaga pressured early looking to land a home run in the final round, Ellen secured another takedown, Arteaga got up with 40 seconds left and they traded knees for the last 10 seconds to the bell.
29-28 Ellen, 29-28 Arteaga and 29-28 Ellen left the Brazilian the winner by split decision. No post-fight interview with Ellen followed, but Jimmy Smith did take the time to interview Roy Nelson by remote about next month’s fight with Javy Ayala.
“The biggest factor for me was signing up with Spike and Scott Coker. Spike is the birthplace of MMA and Scott is freaking awesome. Nobody's ever had any bad things to say about him. I definitely got a tough opponent (in Ayala) because he knocked out Sergei (Kharitonov) and Sergei took out (Fabricio) Werdum. For me I always go out and try to put on a show for the fans. Regardless of how the win is I always try to please the fans. My biggest goal in Bellator is to fight for the belt.”
For complete Bellator 182 results and coverage click here.
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