Bellator 234 “Kharitonov vs. Vassell” took place Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 at Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel and aired 24 hours later on tape delay. Heavyweights Sergei Kharitonov (30-7, 2 NC) and Linton Vassell (19-8, 1 NC) met in the main event.
Kharitonov plodded forward looking to land a huge shot on Vassell, but Vassell calmly circled to his left and attacked Kharitonov with leg kicks until he shot for a takedown at 1:45. Kharitonov was unable to shake Vassell off or get back to his feet and ate damage for the rest of the round until the bell made it 10-9 Vassell.
Second verse, same as the first. Linton Vassell was able to take Kharitonov down again, quickly move from side control to full mount, then put away Kharitonov with strikes after Kharitonov gave up his back. Referee Todd Anderson warned Kharitonov to fight back multiple times, but Vassell flattened him out and poured it on. Here’s a little taste.
The official time was 3:15 and the official interview was conducted by John McCarthy.
“I think that just spoke for itself. Top boy in Sergei. He was probably No. 1 contender if he had won this fight. Give me two fights and get that Bader fight back. You can see what I do on my good day. Nothing against the people who beat me in my last three fights. I think I needed that to bring me back to now, today.”
They were joined by Lightweight fighters Roger Huerta (24-11-1, 1 NC) and Sidney Outlaw (13-3) in a fight where Huerta desperately needed to reinvent his MMA career.
In the most underwhelming fight of the Paramount Network broadcast, Roger Huerta repeatedly threw a kick that Sidney Outlaw would catch, trap, and force a takedown off of. Every time Huerta got back up (or in one case was stood up after Mike Beltran didn’t see enough action), he’d throw the kick and wind up on his back again. Therefore Outlaw was successful in his Bellator debut, winning a unanimous decision of 30-27 X2 and 29-28 over the experienced Huerta.
Having already successfully reinvented his, Austin Vanderford (8-0) looked to continue his winning ways at Middleweight against Grachik Bozinyan (10-3).
Bozinyan was aggressive in the first round and clearly making life difficult for the former Welterweight, but his leg kicks started to pay dividends in round two when Bozinyan stumbled on his feet. Vanderford shot for and got a takedown quickly after, and by getting another in the third and grinding away on top he was able to take a 29-28 unanimous decision. No post-fight interview followed.
Both father and son put their BJJ skills on display in Tel Aviv. Aviv Gozali (3-0) faced off with Zaka Fatullazade (14-8) at Lightweight while his 46-year-old father Haim Gozali (11-6) faced Artur Pronin (16-3) at Welterweight.
Pronin tried to keep the fight standing, but Haim Gozali repeatedly pulled guard and ultimately won his fight by submission (heel hook) at 4:12 in the first round. He announced his retirement in the post-fight interview with John McCarthy.
“That’s it guys. That’s the best feeling in the world to fight in Israel. I love you all. I want to say thank you for making the MMA grow like this in Israel. We have a full arena because of all of you. Thank you everybody. There’s no Haim without jiu-jitsu. My master Renzo Gracie. Everything I know everything I do is because of this guy.”
Aviv’s fight may not have been as emotional as his father’s but it was more impressive.
He charged forward with strikes, grabbed clinch to throw knees, scored a takedown off Fatullazade’s kick and quickly spun his way to an anaconda choke at 56 seconds. He too spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after his bout.
“Yo Israel, give me some noise! Your king is here and I’m ready to say. Soon you’re going to have your first Israeli world champion, so get ready for that. It’s the best exeperience that I can get (training) with A.J. McKee, he’s going to be the next Featherweight champion. I want to fight Ryan Couture next. He beat my father twice. I want revenge.”
For complete Bellator 234 results and coverage click here.