Bellator 219: “Awad vs. Girtz” aired last night (Fri., Mar. 29, 2019) via Paramount Network from Pechanga Casino & Resort in Temecula, California. Lightweight strikers were ready to bang in the main event as Saad Awad (23-10) faced off with experienced wrestler turned bruising brawler Brandon Girtz (15-8). If you wanted rock ‘em sock ‘em robots in a main event, you got that and then some in this fight. Girtz kept throwing monster left hands that at times hurt Awad badly. Awad was out striking him in the second though and had Girtz wobbled late in the third, which left viewers wondering which way the decision would go.
The final verdict was 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 all for the unanimous winner Brandon Girtz. He spoke to John McCarthy after the conclusion of the main event.
“Those were some hard times I went through to get back in here. I swear he was out twice and he just came back. I knew I had my hands full here banging it out with somebody like Saad. This guy’s an animal. I hit him with some of my best shots and he just kept coming. Hat’s off to him. I just had to stay composed and fight through it.”
Former Featherweight champion Daniel Straus (25-8) looked to try his luck at Lightweight in a scrap with Shane Kruchten (12-4), who was last seen being bodied by Aaron Pico last year. This was a critical test for Straus after a horrific motorcycle nearly ended his career, but he showed little of the fact he had to learn how to walk again after spinal stenosis. He came forward with his hands up, threw accurate leg kicks, countered being pressed into the cage with a leg trip takedown, then let Kruchten back up so he could tag him with a left hand. Straus got the rear naked choke at 3:53 of round one for his huge comeback win.
His daughter stood with him for an emotional interview with John McCarthy.
“Yes sir. We’ve been working real hard for this for a while. (*choking up*) I just wanted to get him out of there as soon as possible. I caught him with the straight left. He gave me his back and I just took what I could. I’m just looking to build. Keep building and get back to that belt. Hold that title and defend that title.”
Originally scheduled for the main event, former Welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov (21-3) found himself without an opponent until newcomer Michael Jasper (13-4) stepped in. To Jasper’s credit he was able to stay in the fight for all three rounds. To his demise he didn’t win any of them. In the first round Koreshkov stunned Jasper with his vaunted spinning strikes and and lit up the legs with kicks. Jasper tried to be more aggressive in Round 2 but got nailed with a right that stunned him at 3:38 and was easily taken down. In the third round Koreshkov took him down over and over again to earn a unanimous decision of 30-27 X3. No post-fight interview followed.
Veteran kickboxer yet struggling mixed martial artist Joe Schilling (3-5) looked to reassert his place in multi-discipline fighting against journeyman Keith Berry (15-14-1, 1 NC) at 185.
Schilling showed off something that he had talked up leading to Bellator 219 — the improvements he had made by leaving kickboxing behind to train full time in MMA. Although he rocked Berry with a left hand 20 seconds in, the most impressive thing in both round one and two was his ability to stifle Berry’s offense when he hit takedowns. In the third round Schilling swept on top and began to mercilessly slice Berry’s forehead open with short right elbows. There was little doubt at the end that he had out struck and out worked his opponent en route to a 30-26 X3 unanimous decision.
✊@JoeSchilling187 gets his hand raised to kick off our Main Card for #Bellator219.— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) March 30, 2019
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Afterward Schilling talked to “Big” John McCarthy about his big win.
“I humbly threw my ego aside and started working really hard at this. I had some really stupid mistakes but it was a good performance. Keith is a hell of a fighter and I’m going to learn a lot from this fight. We talked in the meeting the other day and you asked if I was going to have the same aggression and fighting style. When I started to calm down, pick my shots and control my balance it was a lot better. I got the name ‘Stitch ‘Em Up’ from my elbows in muay thai. I hadn’t stitched anyone up in a while but that’s two back to back (in MMA) and you’re going to see a lot more of those.”
For complete Bellator 219 results and coverage click here.