An historical night for UK Bellator fans unfolded this evening as the first event in the European Series got underway at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne. With six events scheduled throughout Europe in 2019, Bellator have their sights set on taking the European market by storm. Of the eleven prelims on show, only three made it past the first round.
After all the hype and build-up, the first fight of the night came to an abrupt and unfortunate end. After a cagey start to the fight, with both fighters feeling each other out, it was Mindaugas Gerve who comes away with the win over Tony Mustard. The fight was called to a halt by referee Bryan Miner at 1:14 of the first round due what looked like at least one dislocated finger for Tony Mustard.
In the second fight of the night, an all Newcastle clash took place as Milad Ahady and Joe Calboutin went head to head. After Calboutin shoved Ahady at the ceremonial weigh-in, this one had all the potential of being an explosive affair. Right from the off, Calboutin came out like a man possessed. Ahady weather the storm and slowed the pace down marginally when he caught the advancing Calboutin. After a couple of big takedown attempts by Calboutin, the fight came to a finish in astonishing style. Calbouting connected with a well-timed right hand to knock Ahady out cold.
After two quick finishes in the first two fights, there was a slight break in proceedings as the powers that be at Bellator must already have an eye on the clock. What they probably didn’t want was another quick finish. And, of course, that’s exactly what they got! At just 1:18 of the first round, Kieran Lister extended his professional record to 4-0 with a blistering left-hand uppercut that knocked Davie McLaughlin out cold. Lister has a cool and clam presence about him and that showed in the ring as his natural flow and composure added to his devastating power.
So that’s three first round finishes in the first three fights. Time for another one? Of course there is. At a very lengthy 3:02, by the standard set so far, Tommy Quinn becomes the fourth first round victor of the evening. With some heavy leg kicks, Quinn was pretty much in control throughout the fight. At just after the three-minute mark it was all over as a grounded Hudson was finished by a flurry of heavy blows from the left hand of Quinn which left Hudson knocked out when Bryan Miner stepped in.
The next fight on the prelim card was, on paper, a bit of a mismatch as Ashley Reece took on John Ross in the welterweight division. This fight had first round finish written all over it, and that’s exactly what we got. Surprisingly, this fight went on until 3:42 of the first round making it the longest fight of the night so far. Reece controlled the fight with ease and barely broke a sweat throughout. Taking the back of Ross quite early on, the referee stopped the fight with Ross unable to defend himself from the strikes of Reece. Five fights down and five first round finishes.
Incredibly, it took until the sixth fight of the evening to see a second round of action. Luke Westwood beat debutant Richard Kallos with a calm and collective display. With the majority of the first round taking place on the ground, Westwood probably edged it but Kallos held his own on the ground. Into the second round and it was a totally different story. Westwood totally controlled the fight on his feet and Kallos didn’t have an answer to the precision and fluid movement of Westwood. At 1:32 of the third and final round, Westwood secured the win with a TKO due to unanswered strikes. Westwood has a fluidity about him and almost slow-motion style about him that will cause a problem for a lot of fighters out there.
After the novelty of a fight that went past the first round, normal order was resumed when Justin Burlinson submitted Maciej Gierszewski at 4:04 with a deep rear naked choke. All three Dungeon fighters on the card have a calm and collective manor that seems to be the Dungeon ethos.
The first-round finishes continued in the next fight as Nathan Rose moved to 7-1 with a huge right hand to knock out Ranjeet Baria. With literally one second to spare in the first, Rose connected with the aforementioned vicious right.
As has become the norm with the prelims, Cal Ellenor continued the trend with a great comeback to submit Nathan Greyson. Greyson started strong and could’ve potentially had the fight wrapped up in the opening seconds. Opening up Ellenor with some heavy ground and pound, Ellenor overcome the adversity before taking Greyson’s back. Sinking in the rear naked choke at 3:49 of the first round, Ellenor moved onto 8-2
In the final two prelims of the evening, we saw a three-round battle between Jimmy Wallhead and Abner Lloveras, with Wallhead taking the unanimous decision, and a three round slug fest that saw Arunas Andriuskevicus get a third round TKO over local hero, James Mulheron. At 0:42 of the third round, referee Leon Roberts called a halt to proceedings due to an injury to Mulheron.
Mindaugas Gerve beats Tony Mustard. TKO. 1:14 Rd 1
Joe Calboutin beat Milad Ahady. KO. 3:04. Rd 1
Kieran Lister beats Davie McLaughlin. KO. 1:18 Rd 1
Tommy Quinn beats Martin Hudson. KO. 3:02. Rd 1
Ashley Reece beats John Ross. TKO. 3:42. Rd 1
Luke Westwood beats Richard Kallos. TKO. 1:32. Rd 3
Justin Burlinson beat Maciej Gierszewski. Submission (RNC). 4:04. Rd 1
Nathan Rose beats Ranjeet Baria. KO. 4:59. Rd 1
Cal Ellenor beats Nathan Greyson. Submission (RNC). 3:49. Rd 1
Jim Wallhead beats Abner Lloveras. Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Arunas Andriuskevicus beats James Mulheron. TKO. 0:42. Rd 3