The Resorts World Arena in Birmingham is the venue for this the second event in the Bellator European Series. With a stacked card of 14 prelims and 4 main card bouts, proceedings got underway with Dungeon MMAs Kieran Lister vs Dublin based Moldovan, Constantin Gnusariev.
In a fight heavy on the ground work, both fighters had there moments in a back and forth encounter. Lister effortlessly avoided early take down attempts from the SBG Ireland man in an evenly contested first round. Lister dominated the second round, again mostly spent on the ground. Going to the third and final round, this fight could easily have gone either way but ended in what was probably a fair draw.
Next up we saw debutant Simon Ridgway take on another SBG Ireland man in Nicolo Solli. In what was a fairly even first round, Ridgway had a point deducted for grabbing the cage on two occasions. The round ended with both fighters going for a heel hook at the same time.
In the second round, Ridgway found himself in a good position to go for the heel hook again, however his inexperience showed as he persistently hung on with the heel hook attempts. Rather than go for a different tact, Ridgway found himself taking some heavy shots to the head and body, despite having Solli’s leg. Ultimately, this cost Ridgway the fight as Solli escaped and ended the fight with a series of unanswered heavy strikes.
The third fight of the night was between another debutant in Raphael Uchegbu against Lee Percival in the bantamweight division. Uchegbu making light work of Percival to score an impressive debut win by sinking in a tight triangle choke at 2:14 of the first round.
Next, we saw a lightweight clash between Akonne Wanliss and the third SBG Ireland fighter of the night, Sam Slater. With both fighters coming into this one with 2-1 records, it was Wanliss who took the first round with relative ease. Stalking down Slater, the visibly bigger Wanliss was calm and collective throughout.
Things continues much the same in the second round with Wanliss unleashing some heavy shots to the extremely durable chin of Slater. A lesser man would have crumbled under the shots from Wanliss but Slater somehow remained on his feet, even when the referee called a halt to proceedings. After taking a sold uppercut, Wanliss sensed that the end was in sight and unleashed a series of strikes before the referee stepped in at 3:55 of the second round.
As the only fighter on the card missing weight, John Nicholls took on Golden Ticket Fight Promotions head honcho, Dan Cassell. Nicholls appeared to have a good guillotine set in but Cassell stayed calm and rode it out. Taking top position, Cassell unleased with some savage elbows before the referee jumped in at 3:09 of the first round.
Ashley Reece was up next against Craig Turner. With a quick finish in his last outing at Bellator Newcastle, Reece landed a couple of heavy shots, which Turner clearly didn’t like. However, in the clinch, the Hardy Wallhead man dug in and saw out the first round.
Into the second and it was Turner who grew in confidence. Putting Reece on the back foot was some smart jabs, Turner took the second round to make it all square going into the third and final round.
The third round followed pretty much the same pattern with Reece taking it to the ground, in a pretty uneventful finish to the fight. Going to the judge’s scorecards, Reece came out victorious with a unanimous decision with all three judges favouring the HAMMA round in all three rounds.
With the arena starting to fill up, the atmosphere hasn’t really got into full swing as yet but with another eight prelims on the card, things will no doubt start to heat up. Making there way into the cage next, we saw Gavin Hughes take on Mohammad Yahya in the lightweight division.
In what was a fairly uneventful first round, Hughes and Yahya tired in vain to get the better of each other on the ground but to no avail with Hughes slightly shading it. With the fight going to the ground again in the second, Hughes took the back of Yahya and spent the vast majority of the round there trying to work in the rear naked choke. When it looked like Yahya might survive the round, Hughes’ persevered with his attempts to sink in the choke and came up trumps at 4:51 of the second round. Ironically, the atmosphere picked up with Hughes well supported throughout.
After making his Bellator debut on the Newcastle card, Jimmy Wallhead made a quick return to action against the Italian, Giorgio Pietrini. With nineteen KO’s between them it was perhaps no surprise that the first round was one for the striking enthusiasts with both fighters trading throughout.
The second round started in a similar vein before Wallhead tried a different tactic by taking down the Italian two minutes in. In what was predominately a fight on the feet, Wallhead’s experience favoured him going into the third round. With a strong finish, it was Wallhead who came away with the win via unanimous decision. Whether we’ll see Jimmy in the cage so soon again remains to be seen but after tonight’s performance, the veteran still has what it takes to mix it in the cage.
After the disappointment of having his opponent pull out on the eve of the inaugural Bellator European Series in Newcastle, Dominique Wooding finally got his chance in the Bellator ring when he took on David Khalsa. With the fight going the way that many expected, Wooding showcased some serious talent to put away Khalsa in the first round. With a mixture of leg kicks and brutal strikes, Khalsa stood his ground but things came to end at 2:43 of the first round with Wooding unleashing a series of strikes that Khalsa at first got up from before Wooding struck again and put Khalsa on the canvas for one final time. Wooding looked composed and sharp throughout in what will more than likely be the beginning of a successful run in the Bellator cage.
Birmingham’s own, Yannick Bahati was next in the cage as he took on Amir Dadovic, the brother of his originally scheduled opponent. Having recently been promoted to black belt in BJJ, it may come as no surprise to learn that Bahati finished this one three minutes into the first round by way of submission. With both fighters testing the waters early on, things took a turn for the worse for Dadovic once this one went to the ground. With a nasty Kimura in place, Dadovic tapped out with three minutes on the clock.
The eleventh fight on the prelims saw another light heavyweight encounter as Lee Chadwick took on James Mulheron. After a tough weight cut prior to his defeat against Fabian Edwards, Chadwick stepped up to light heavy to meet Mulheron. Clearly weary, and with good cause, of the power of Mulheron, Chadwick wasn’t keen on getting in the pocket as Mulheron landed with some big shots in the first.
The second round was mostly spent in the clinch with both fighters exchanging blows to the head and body. Chadwick tried on a couple of occasions to take this one to the ground but to no avail. Evident that he didn’t want to stand and trade, Chadwick resulted to keeping this fight in the clinch.
As with the previous two rounds, the third round followed the same clinch pattern. Mulheron landing the heavier shots throughout and Chadwick working at close quarters. In what was arguably a fight that was a lot closer than the judge’s scorecards may have suggested, it was Chadwick who walked away with the unanimous decision.
With just three prelims to go, Kane Mousah took on the Pole, Mateusz Piskorz in the lightweight division. As with the Chadwick and Mulheron fight beforehand, Mousah and Piskorz spent large chunks of the first round in the clinch.
Things started in the same manor in the second round until Mousah dropped the SBG Ireland man towards the latter stages. Clearly rocked, Mousha decided to take this one back to the clinch as the Pole held on for dear life to see out the second.
Going into the third round, Piskorz seemed to have recovered from the knock down and tough finish to the previous round. Mousah could have rued the chance to put this one to bed in the second but still did enough to secure a unanimous decision over Piskorz.
In the penultimate prelim of the evening, Brian Moore met the Swede Binh Son Le in the bantamweight division. In the first round, it was Moore who looked the most dangerous in what was a fairly tame round that favoured the Irishman.
With Moore controlling the second round, it wasn’t until the bell sounded for the end of the round that the biggest threat of the round took place when Moore took the Swedes back. Had it continued for another five seconds; Moore would’ve taken the win by rear naked choke.
The third and final round passed by without any real threat or menace as Moore controlled and dominated enough to see out a comfortable unanimous decision.
In the main prelim of the evening, the crowd anticipation certainly went up a notch as Saul Rogers took on Aiden Lee in a highly-anticipated bout. The first round didn’t disappoint, and Lee spectacularly defended three big takedown attempts from Rogers before finally succumbing at the fourth attempt. Once down, Rogers took Lee’s back and landed some good shots to the head and body. Once it was back on the feet, Lee finished the round strong by landing some big shots of his own.
After the entertaining start to the fight, things took a slower pace in the second round with neither fighter really taking the initiative however, Rogers shaded it by being the busier. Going into the third round, Lee upped his game taking top position and then unloading some big kicks on the grounded Rogers. Backed by an army of vocal fans, Rogers took control on the ground going into the final 90 seconds of the fight. Lee stayed calm though and saw off a late guillotine attempt before the fight came to an end. Going to the judge’s scorecards for the fourth consecutive fight, it was Rogers who came out victorious to claim a unanimous decision to draw an end to the prelims.
Preliminary Card Results
Saul Rogers beat Aiden Lee – Unanimous decision
Brian Moore beat Binh Son Le – Unanimous decision
Kane Mousah beat Mateusz Piskorz – Unanimous decision
Lee Chadwick beat James Mulheron – Unanimous decision
Yannick Bahati beat Amir Dadovic – Submission (Kimura) 3:00 Rd 1
Dominque Wooding beat David Khalsa – TKO (strikes) 2:43 Rd 1
Jim Wallhead beat Giorgio Pietrini – Unanimous decision
Gavin Hughes beat Mohammad Yahya – Submission (rear naked choke) 4:51 Rd 2
Ashley Reece beat Craig Turner – Unanimous decision
Dan Cassell beat John Nicholls – TKO (elbows) 3:09 Rd 1
Akonne Wanliss beat Sam Slater – TKO (strikes) 3:55 Rd 2
Raphael Uchegbu beat Lee Percival – Submission (triangle choke) 2:14 Rd 1
Nicolo Solli beat Simon Ridgway – TKO (strikes) 4:32 Rd 2
Kieran Lister vs. Constantin Gnusariev DRAW