Bellator made their debut in Birmingham tonight for the second show of their European series where they are aiming to take over the market to capture the next era of stars early in their careers. The hope is to cultivate this talent by building up their records whilst giving them different challenges before unleashing them on the global scene. The prelims got off to a quick start but the pace slowed towards the end as the last four fights went to one sided unanimous decisions with little high paced action to grab the fans attention. However, that was quickly forgotten when the main card kicked off and everyone in attendance witnessed four first round finishes.
The Channel 5 portion of the card began in spectacular fashion as the Resorts World Arena witnessed the Bellator MMA debut of Bellator Kickboxing world champion, Raymond Daniels, as he took on debutant, Wilker Barros, in a welterweight clash. Daniels may have broken an all-time record for the number of different tracks he could squeeze into his walkout but it later became apparent he may have wanted to make sure the variation in his walkout was an indicator of what was to come with the range of different striking techniques he would employ.
The American opened the first round by using his kicks to keep Barros at distance which meant he could only rush in looking for hopeful punches. As the round progressed, Daniels really opened up with some flashy kicks and mixed up his angles until he dropped Barros with a side kick to the body. Just as he regrouped and got to his feet, Daniels showed no mercy as he rushed in and landed a monster right hand that left his adversary unconscious on the mat. At 39 years of age, it is unknown how far Daniels can go in his MMA career but going off of this performance, a number of seriously fun matchups could be coming down the line.
After Ryan Scope fell out due to an injury a few weeks ago, Pedro Carvalho stepped in on late notice to face Bellator veteran, Derek Campos, outside of his usual featherweight division. There was no feeling out process in this one as Campos landed some huge shots straight out of the gate on the SBG Ireland product. However, Carvalho quickly fired back with some hard kicks to the liver that forced Campos to rush in for the takedown. Once the American got his opponent to the floor, he quickly took the back before Carvalho managed to shrug him off.
Carvalho got straight back to where he left off on the feet as he landed some punches before returning to the liver with a nasty body kick. As Campos’ hands dropped to protect his torso, Carvalho fired off a combination with his hands that sent the Bellator veteran to the canvas before referee, Leon Roberts, stepped in to call off the contest. It was a seriously impressive performance to take out the notoriously tough Campos in one round and in his post-fight interview, Carvalho called for a place in the upcoming 16-man featherweight tournament later this year.
The first round knockout streak continued in the night’s co-main event as Fabian Edwards took out Falco Neto with a memorable finish. The bout opened far more competitive than many were expecting as Neto pushed the Englishman against the cage to try and work for a takedown. Edwards managed to fend off these attempts before rolling for a kimura which resulted in him ending up on the bottom. At one point, Neto advanced to side control and looked as though he may be able to grind Edwards down but those thoughts were cast aside moments later. As Neto was standing over his opponent, Edwards landed a huge upkick that wobbled the Portuguese native before he followed up with two more. Edwards rushed to his feet and landed two massive left hands which sealed the seventh victory of his career. He is arguably the most talented of Bellator’s European up and coming talent and this performance could well set him up with the winner of the Mike Shipman v Costello Van Steenis fight after they face off in London.
The finish filled main card was capped off when former lightweight champion, Brent Primus, submitted England’s own, Tim Wilde, by gogoplata in the very first round. It was a good start for Wilde as he landed a shot which looked to stumble Primus before getting the American to the ground and establishing top position. Primus immediately started to work the rubber guard which led to him sinking in a gogoplata choke: a submission rarely seen in high level MMA. He immediately called out lightweight champion, Michael Chandler, straight after the victory as he wants the trilogy fight to settle the score and take the belt in the process.
Overall, it would have been nice if some of the main card fights went on for a little longer but they provided a number of highlight reel finishes that would have left fans in the venue and at home happy. There was a good atmosphere inside the Resorts World Arena and with a local star like Fabian Edwards on the rise, it is highly likely that the promotion will go back for another stop next year. Next up for Bellator in Europe is the stacked London card on June 22nd which will be broadcast at different times on both Sky Sports/Channel 5 and David Green confirmed after the show that they will be doing three more events in Europe after Wembley Arena this year. The European series has got off to a successful start with local fighters getting more high profile opportunities than ever before and it will be interesting to see what Bellator has got in store for UK fans during the rest of 2019.
Main card results
Brent Primus defeated Tim Wilde via submission (gogoplata) at 1:20 of round one
Fabian Edwards defeated Falco Neto Lopes via TKO (punches) at 3:51 of round one
Pedro Carvalho defeated Derek Campos via TKO (punches) at 2:03 of round one
Raymond Daniels defeated Wilker Barros via KO (punch) at 4:36 of round one