Bellator 196 “Henderson vs. Huerta” took place last night (Fri., Apr. 6, 2018) at Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary. The main event featured two Lightweights looking for a return to glory after recent runs in major promotions that have been far from smooth sailing.
Former WEC and UFC champion Benson Henderson (24-8) came in 1-3 in his last four Bellator fights. Former UFC star “El Matador” Roger Huerta (24-9-1, 1 NC) went 2-3 in a five bout stint for ONE Fighting. Could either one return to their top form of old in a main event for Budapest?
Henderson wasted no time getting to work, using his hands to make Huerta retreat and his head kick to stun “El Matador.” The strikes continued to come as Huerta tried and failed to get single and double legs. Huerta was busted open and bleeding before the end of Round 1, having managed only one takedown that Henderson immediately stood up from.
The second round was as “Smooth” as the first. Henderson was so confident that he pulled guard when Huerta pressured him into the fence and immediately got the guillotine choke for the tapout at 0:49. He spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the fight.
“I need to do better. It’s on my shoulders. It’s on me to do better. I’ll earn the finish. I’ll earn the stoppage. It’s okay. Budapest, Budapest! It’s been a great warm reception. I love you guys. I’m gonna bring my wife and kids out here. Go be great. Go try and beat great. Whether you’re a lion tamer, a cameraman or a mechanic, go be great. If we all tried to be great the world would be in a better spot.”
Second from the top was local favorite Adam Borics (6-0) taking on late replacement Teodor Nikolov (11-1). Nikolov had a nice six-fight win streak coming in but you wouldn’t know it by the way he fought. He was unable to land any effective strikes, while almost everything Borics threw found a home. Left hook to the head, flying knee to the body, leg kicks causing purple welts, everything worked in Round 1.
Nikolov looked like one sad puppy coming out for round two and things did not get any better. Borics continued to punish him standing, Nikolov didn’t even try to get any takedowns, and it wouldn’t have mattered if he had. Borics went flying through the air, brought the left knee up before it crashed into Nikolov, and Yves Lavigne immediately rushed in to stop the action at 1:30.
John McCarthy stepped into the cage full of praise for Borics and his highlight reel finish. Borics had little to say but said it with a smile from ear to ear.
“Man I am so happy! I came back home last week and again I can fight at home. This is awesome. Yeah I want to fight next time against Gallagher.”
Joining them on the card were experienced kickboxing foe Denise Kielholtz (1-1) and loser of two of her last three Petra Castkova (3-2). Kielholtz looked to improve on her impressive bout at Bellator 188.
Castkova was never in this fight. The formidable kickboxing world champion Kielholtz outworked Castkova standing at every moment of this fight, forcing her to backpedal constantly and throw desperate shots trying to make anything land. Her most impressive moves were the ones fleeing the Kielholtz onslaught.
The spring in Kielholtz’ step never faltered though and she looked as fresh at the end of Round 3 as the start of Round 1, having swelled Castkova’s left eye and left her face covered in red bruises soon to turn black and blue. She easily took the unanimous decision of 30-27 X3. No post-fight interview followed.
Bellator also ran a Featherweight bout between the durable Brian Moore (10-6) sought a win against the more middling MMA fighter Giorgio Belsanti (7-6-1).
Belsanti was outmatched almost from the word go. Moore cracked him with a right hand 15 seconds into the round and immediately jumped on top. Yves Lavigne only had to issue one warning to stay busy, because Moore would posture up and put the pressure on Belsanti time and again.
Once Moore was able to pass to half guard it was the beginning of the end. He blasted Belsanti with elbows and cut him up before Belsanti tried to scramble and stand back up. The guillotine choke was there for the taking and Moore took it for the tap at 2:46. John McCarthy interviewed him afterward.
“He has a big hard head. He ate that shot and he was still in it. Ay, it’s a nice guillotine. Anything to do with grappling that man (John Kavanagh) is responsible. I owe him everything. SBG are taking over this show. Bellator is gonna be SBG baby, 100%.”
Rounding out the main card was a Welterweight contest with undefeated former NCAA champion Ed Ruth (4-0) taking on wily SBG Ireland veteran Ion Pascu (17-7).
Ruth was largely dominant through all three rounds, although Pascu did land some very effective body kicks and leg kicks, one of the latter momentarily knocking Ruth off balance in round two. Ruth’s response was a head kick that made Pascu wobble (but not fall down).
In the third and final frame Ruth got a full mount for ground and pound and also a warning for shots to the back of the head before Pascu was able to push him back to guard until the bell. The judges rendered a unanimous verdict: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 all for Ed Ruth. He spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after recording his fifth win.
“It felt great. I love matches like this. I love just grinding away. I have more than just TKO’s — I also have heart. (My leg) is fine now. Injuries are nothing to me. If I get ‘em I ignore ‘em. I’m a warrior, I can fight through anything. I’m looking at anybody. I’m ready to start jumping up in the rankings. Anybody that’s above me, I’m gonna make sure they’re below me.”
For complete Bellator 196 results and coverage click here.