Bellator 251 “Manhoef vs. Anderson” took place on Thursday night (Nov. 5, 2020) inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main event saw former UFC light heavyweight contender Corey Anderson (13-5) square off with MMA and kickboxing legend Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef (32-14-1, 2 NC) in a Light Heavyweight affair.
Anderson and Manhoef were initially cautious, each trying to measure the range with their footwork, but a pattern quickly emerged where Manhoef was backpedaling and Anderson was scoring takedowns. He’d do some work on top, landing hard right hands. and Manhoef would scramble back to his feet. Rinse, lather, repeat. 10-9 for Anderson in the first.
Heavy shots from @CoreyA_MMA as round 1️⃣ of the #Bellator251 main event winds down.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 6, 2020
Catch round 2️⃣ LIVE & FREE now on @CBSSportsNet in he U.S. and with @SkySports Mix in the U.K.#MMA #Bellator pic.twitter.com/BL1EwMzpHw
“Overtime” would not need any in his promotional debut, earning the finish in the second round by executing the same game plan as the first round. He took Manhoef down, he landed the clean hard shots, and he busted Manhoef open with a right elbow. Todd Anderson warned Manhoef to move or fight back and he did not. The fight was officially stopped at 2:34 of round two, giving Anderson plenty of time to chat with “Big” John McCarthy.
“Keep it simple. Keep it simple. New platform but I don’t have to do anything fancy. Do what you do in the gym. Do what you do in sparring. Nick Catone told me once I take him down it’s over. Finish him, he’s gonna stop, it’s over. I just did what (the coaches) told me. I should be fighting whoever is fighting for the title. Whoever’s got that strap, come see me!”
The Heavyweight co-main event saw Tyrell Fortune (8-1) battle Said Sowma (6-1).
The time has come for the co-main event of the evening! Tune in now with @CBSSportsNet in the and with @SkySports Mix in the to catch @FortuneOverFam vs. Said Sowma.#Bellator251 pic.twitter.com/mgPZpz36M7— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 6, 2020
The first round was entirely Fortune’s. Sowma managed a leg kick here and there, but only in response to Fortune landing one first. Fortune repeatedly worked the jab and had Sowma backpedaling, and with a minute left Fortune took him down from behind, getting another takedown with six seconds left to cinch a 10-9.
Sowma didn’t overwhelmingly improve in the second round, but Fortune noticeably slowed down as it wore on and wasn’t able to get the takedowns he had with impunity in round one. A groin strike forced Mike Beltran to give Fortune time to recover, but after he did the underhooks he previously held disappeared. Sowma started to light him up with body and head strikes as the final minute ticked away, evening things up at one round apiece going into the third.
After 15 minutes the result was completely up in the air. The momentum seemed to favor Sowma and he was landing some good shots early, but Fortune was blocking Sowma’s takedown attempts late and landing good knees at short range. At the end he almost gave Sowma a piledriver on an ill advised takedown, and being on top at the end of 15 minutes could have swayed a judge or two. Their scorecards were 29-28 X3 for the winner Tyrell Fortune, who had to feel fortunate to get away with that one. No interview followed.
Middleweights were also on the card as Austin Vanderford (9-0) battled formidable “Brazilian Bad Boy” Vinicius de Jesus (9-3). The undefeated Vanderford had a solid first round as de Jesus failed on his one attempt to get a knee bar, while Vanderford continually tagged him with a left jab and an overhand right. Late in the frame he took de Jesus down and worked elbows and body shots on top to solidify a 10-9 in his favor.
The second round was almost entirely on the ground, and Vanderford was the man on top doing the work from full or half guard, throwing left hands and right hammers. As the time on the clock ticked away he passed to full mount and went for an arm triangle, but de Jesus was able to last until the bell. Vanderford had banked a 2-0 lead going into the third round.
If the fight wasn’t already a blowout at that point, Vanderford made absolutely sure there would be no doubt by taking de Jesus down in the first 15 seconds of the third, relentlessly pounding away and slicing his head open with elbows for the entirety of a round. Both men were covered in crimson by the time referee Kerry Hatley stepped in to separate them, but all of that juice was squeezed from the “Brazilian Bad Boy.” The scorecards all came back for Vanderford: 30-26, 30-27 X2. No post-fight interview followed.
Some nasty ground & pound from @AustinV170MMA to close out the third and final round.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 6, 2020
The #Bellator251 main card is LIVE NOW on @CBSSportsNet in the and @SkySports Mix in the . pic.twitter.com/Zi3z12WG4l
Rounding out the main card were Welterweight fighters “Barbaric” Derek Anderson (16-3) and Killys Mota (12-1). After a back and forth first round where Mota seemed to garner a small advantage with his takedowns, the advantages vanished in the second as “Barbaric Derek” was repeatedly able to get back to his feet. At one point Anderson even picked Mota up and blatantly walked him across the length of the cage.
On the final takedown he stood up from both men were briefly bent down in a grappling stance, and as Mota let go Anderson threw a kick that connected with his chin. It was such a “bang bang” moment that Mike Beltran thought Mota might have been a grounded opponent on his hands and knees, but after the fight was stopped he watched a replay and ruled that it was indeed a legal strike. Anderson took the victory by TKO at 4:27 of round two as a result.
For complete Bellator 251 results and coverage click here.