Bellator 210: “Njokuani vs. Salter” aired last night (Fri., Nov. 30, 2018) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Pride and ranking were both on the line as Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani (18-5, 1 NC) faced John Salter (15-4).
On paper Njokuani had many advantages — he was four years younger, had five inches more in reach, and was renowned for his precision and power as a striker. Now take that piece of paper, crumple it up, and throw it in the garbage. Some might accuse John Salter of being one-dimensional in his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but when the only one better than you in that dimension is Rafael Lovato Jr., you stick with what works.
That’s exactly what John Salter did in this fight, taking the taller Njokuani down twice, then making a slick transition to the back with both hooks in and an arm deep under Njokuani’s chin. The tap came at 4:32 of the first round and Salter was back in the win column again, improving to 16-4.
“He took a change of opponent, a big change from Melvin Manhoef to me, and I commend him a lot for taking that change. He’s fast. He punched me a bunch. He’s longer than me, he’s faster than me, but I knew I could survive. I heard someone say one minute left and I didn’t want him to get back up, so I knew I had to get the finish. I took that loss to Lovato, he’s a stud, I’ve got to keep proving myself to get back to that point.”
Popular homegrown Bellator favorite “The Caveman” David Rickels (19-5) signed up for a 170 lb. fight with the heavy handed striker “Bomba” Guilherme Vasconcelos (10-4).
Try as he might though “Bomba” never landed a big enough bomb to rock Rickels, and whenever the two moved into range Rickels would land first and land furiously, forcing Vasconcelos to backpedal and defensively go for takedowns.
Although Vasconcelos did find critical takedowns late in the second and third round, “late” is the operative word here as they did not sway the judges enough to turn things in his favor. Rickels scored a unanimous decision of 30-27 and 29-28 X2, but surprisingly no post-fight interview with the charismatic “Caveman” followed.
Two Featherweights with over 40 combined wins faced off as “The Spaniard” Juan Archuleta (20-1) battled Jeremy Spoon (21-4).
Although it was a close first round as Spoon was able to fly around the cage and avoid a lot of Archuleta’s most damaging blows — at times unintentionally as he’d over commit to a shot and go flying right past his opponent.
The battle turned into a lopsided blowout in the second as Archuleta hurt him with a left and poured on damage to the point Kerry Hatley considered stopping it.
Spoon survived to the third round only to continue to take damage, including having his head split open from a couple of elbows over the top on the ground. The judges all gave it to Archuleta by scores of 30-25 and 30-26 X2. He spoke to Chael Sonnen after Michael C. Williams made it official.
“I’m telling you man I’m on the road to El Dorado right now and the gold is in sight. I’ve got that Spanish blood and we don’t stop until every weight, every goal is conquered. I’m on the road right now.”
The women’s Flyweight division was also in action as Kristina Williams (2-1) had a fight on the televised card against Bruna Ellen (4-1). Although Ellen tried to work at range and then force takedowns when she got in close, most of her attempts failed and one in round three was directly countered into a takedown of Williams’ own. Meanwhile Williams was the aggressor in the fight and made Ellen constantly backpedal to avoid body and head kicks, but she couldn’t quite avoid them all, losing a 29-28 and 30-27 X2 unanimous decision. Williams spoke to Chael Sonnen afterward and was also asked to predict Bellator 213.
“I’ve been working super hard on my takedown defense and movement and I think it showed tonight. I think Valerie (Letourneau) is a super smart fighter but if it goes to the ground (Ilima-Lei) MacFarlane’s got it.”
For complete Bellator 210 results and coverage click here.