It was a night of shock, come from behind victories at Bellator 92 as we found out who was making the Middleweight and Featherweight tournament finals.
In the opening fight of the main card, Mike Richman was comprehensively out worked on the ground in the first round by Alexandre Bezerra but came back with superior striking and much improved ground work in the final two frames to convince two of the judges that he’d won the fight and advances by split decision.
Dan Cramer looked to have his middleweight semi final against Brett Cooper all sewn up, winning the first two rounds with a combination of solid wrestling and a flurry of strikes at the end if the second. In the third however, Cooper discovered a sense of urgency and while the round started in now-familiar form in the clinch, Cooper broke free and landed a huge uppercut followed by two hard rights that switched Cramer off and booked “Fudoshin’ his spot in the finals.
The other Middleweight semi saw Sultan Aliev work a solid gameplan against the more explosive Doug Marshall with the Russian closing distance and looking to drag the fight to the floor and smother Marshall at every opportunity. Despite several standups, and Marshall consistently being able to work his way to his feet it seemed that Aliev had ground out a less-than-entertaining win, reducing Marshall’s significant offence to a head kick at the start of the second and some ground and pound at the tail end of the third.
One judge agreed, scoring it 30-27 to Aliev but the other two saw it 29-28 to Marshall, so Doug proceeds to a potentially fun final with Cooper while Aliev had a long flight home as reward for all his hard work.
Drawing the last slot, veteran Marlon Sandro was looking to yet again make the tournament final against ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev and in his eagerness to do so landed a groin shot that the Russian took the full five minutes to recover from. Nasty.
The rest of the round saw Khasbulaev impress on the feet and then equal Sandro on the ground, with the pair exchanging submission attempts and ‘Frodo’ ended the round on top.
The second round was a similar story with Sandro attempting an arm triangle choke but Khasbulaev escaped and ended the round again laying in some dominant ground and pound.
Sandro seemed tired in the third and Khasbulaev attacked aggressively from the start, gaining top position and securing the TKO win at the midway point of the round for the mildly shocking upset win.
That gives us tourney finals of Khasbulaev-Richman at Featherweight and Cooper-Marshall at Middleweight. I’m not sure how much I rate any of their chances of victory against Alexander Shlemenko or Pat Curran but hey, it’s a meritocracy in Bellator. Sort of. Assuming the judges are any good. Which they might not be. Ain’t it always the way?
Also, still no legal UK coverage. Small time Bjorn… small time.
• Magomedrasul Khasbulaev def. Marlon Sandro via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:38 – featherweight tournament semifinals
• Doug Marshall def. Sultan Aliev via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28) – middleweight tournament semifinals
• Brett Cooper def. Dan Cramer via knockout (punches) – Round 3, 3:19 – middleweight tournament semifinals
Mike Richman def. Alexandre Bezerra via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – featherweight tournament semifinals
• Nick Piedmont def. Cleber Luciano via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:55
• Ricky Legere Jr. def. Sabah Homasi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:52
• Akop Stepanyan def. Chris Saunders via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:55
• Keith Berry def. Richard Rigmaden via submission (kimura) – Round 1, 1:31
• Josh Appelt def. Manny Lara via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-24, 30-24)
• Aaron Miller def. Shad Smith via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Brandon Halsey def. Rocky Ramirez via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 0:50 For more on Bellator 92, check out the MMA Events section of the site.