Bellator 230 and Bellator Milan both aired Sat., Oct. 12, 2019 on Paramount/DAZN from Ex Palalido (Allianz Cloud) in Milan, Italy.
The main event for Bellator 230 saw former Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (16-3) vs. Vadim Nemkov (10-2) at 205 lbs. Carvalho got hurt almost immediately with a head kick and was dominated through the remainder of Round 1. Nemkov took Carvalho down at will and teed off on him with his hands and head kicks when he didn’t. Easy 10-9 for Nemkov.
Things did not get any better for Carvalho in the second round. Nemkov’s relentless strikes led to another easy takedown, where he easily moved from half guard to full mount and blasted Carvalho in the head with an elbow. Carvalho gave up his back in response and Nemkov locked in a tight rear-naked choke at 3:56 of Round 2 for the submission.
Even though the entirety of Team Fedor was there with him to celebrate his main event win in the Bellator cage, no post-fight interview followed.
That same card also included a Heavyweight tilt of Domingos Barros (6-0) vs. Kirill Sidelnikov (11-6). Despite being shorter in height and reach, Sidelnikov’s experience proved an advantage in the first round as he stuffed multiple takedown attempts and repeatedly tagged Barros with his heavy hands. Although Barros was able to open up a cut on counter shots and had blood streaming from under the right eye by the end of Round 2, he was still out struck through both rounds and digging out of a hole going into Round 3.
Barros didn’t seem to have any kind of strategy for stopping his opponent other than trying to get takedowns, and Sidelnikov continued to stuff them throughout the third frame, taking advantage of a late attempt to land some heavy left hands while Barros was on his hands and knees. The only attack Barros could land was an outside leg kick and that wasn’t going to win him the fight. The judges returned a 30-27, 29-28 X2 decision for Sidelnikov. No post-fight interview followed.
Those big boys were joined by two more Heavyweight fighters: Hesdy Gerges (0-1) and Dragos Zubco (2-1). Unfortunately for the first five minutes of the fight nothing happened. Well that’s not quite true. Something happened. Zubco tried and failed to get takedowns and Gerges got right back up when he finally got them. I scored it a 10-10 round.
Zubco’s strategy started to pay dividends in the second round when he finally caught Gerges with a hard left hand and managed to ground him while he was still off balance. He went for the mounted crucifix but couldn’t secure it properly and Gerges got to his feet. Still it was enough work for me to score a 10-9 in Zubco’s favor.
Gerges had one strong moment in the third round, briefly dropping Zubco with a right hand, but Gerges failed an attempt to take the back and let Zubco back to his feet. Zubco promptly reasserted his striking advantage and when Gerges tried to clinch against the fence it was Zubco landing the better strikes. The judges scored it 29-28 X3 for Zubco. No post-fight interview followed.
A rematch of a close fight from Bellator 211 saw Andrea Fusi (8-4) look to repeat his previous performance against Walter Pugliesi (4-2) at Welterweight. Pugliesi dominated the first round by landing better strikes in the center of the cage and knees in clinch on the fence. The second round was even more dominant than the first, with Pugliesi attacking with an overhand right, body shots, and dirty boxing uppercuts. Slashing elbows at close range opened up a trickle of blood that leaked from the top of Fusi’s forehead until the bell.
Both men seemed pretty spent after 10 minutes of action, but Pugliesi had more gas in the tank and more elbows in the clinch. By the end of the round Fusi’s right eye was swelling shut and he was repeatedly being pressed into the fence against his will to eat elbows. Pugliesi took a 30-27 unanimous decision and spoke to John McCarthy afterward.
“The victory is very difficult to take from Fusi. The work in the gym it was very very hard, twice a day, and I love this. This is my work, this is my life. I wish for Bellator to believe in me. Excuse me for my English.”
The Milan card aired exclusively on the Bellator mobile app and Channel 5 in the U.K. and was headlined by Melvin Manhoef (31-14-1, 2 NC) vs. Yannick Bahati (9-4, 1 NC).
On paper Bahati had all the advantages — he was four inches taller, 14 years younger, and not nearly as war weary as his seasoned opponent. For Manhoef none of that mattered. He showed “No Mercy” to Bahati as he floored him with a right hand, got on top, and when he finally broke Bahati’s grip and postured up the knockout came at 2:29 of Round 1.
WOW! @team_manhoef gets the job done in the very first round, stopping @yannick_bahati with some nasty ground and pound!— Bellator Europe (@Bellator_Europe) October 12, 2019
What a finish here at #BellatorMilan.
Watch live now on Channel 5 and the Bellator App. pic.twitter.com/7Og7SqkTYT
The victorious Manhoef spoke to Josh “The Punk” Thomson after his 32nd MMA win.
“Yeah of course. We knew that he wanted to go to the ground. We knew I’m strong, my defense is good. I can knock people out from stand up and on the ground.”
They were joined by a Welterweight fight for Stefano Paterno (12-3-1) vs. “The Beast” Ashley Reece (8-1). Paterno had the crowd’s support and the superior striking to go along with it, busting open Reece’s nose in the first round to the point he was drenching Paterno with his own blood. His striking if anything was even better in round two, wobbling Reece multiple times against the cage and earning what should be a 10-8 round on any scorecard.
Stefano Paterno is opening up (literally) in round two against Ashley Reece.— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) October 12, 2019
Tune in with the Bellator App and on @Channel5_TV NOW to see how this bout plays out.#BellatorMilan pic.twitter.com/ZzdXBJuZoc
Reece needed to score big late and never had the opportunity he needed. Paterno methodically walked him down through the third frame, landing leg kicks and leaving Reece woozy with his overhand right. To the surprise of none the judges returned scorecards all favoring Paterno: 30-27 and 29-27 X2. No post-fight interview followed.
Light Heavyweight fighter and local Italian superstar Alessio Sakara (20-13, 2 NC) fought the seemingly hand-picked Canaan Grigsby (8-7) from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The overmatched Grigsby found his legs taken out by hard kicks and his will taken out by a hard right hand to the body as he was trying to survive an assault against the cage. Sakara scored the knockout at 23 seconds:
He spoke to Josh Thomson afterward:
“Thank you very much for my fans. My last fight I lose, but they tell me come back strong, and they give me a lot of power. I training a lot. Best team in the world, American Top Team. I so happy. I love fight.”
Bellator Milan also had a bonus fight air to fill time which saw Nicolo Solli (2-0) take out Daniel Cassell (4-3-1) with a triangle choke at 3:15 of the first round. No post-fight interview followed.
For complete Bellator 230 results and coverage click here.