Bellator 102 was chalk full of tournament bouts on Friday night at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, Calif. Two heavyweight and two middleweight semifinal bouts were featured, as well as a bantamweight final.
Two former UFC big men made their promotional debuts in the Bellator Season 9 Heavyweight Tournament, but only one was successful.
Mark Godbeer snuck in a few solid right hands, but Cheick Kongo employed an unexpected wrinkle by continually clinching and pressing Godbeer into the fence and taking him down to the mat, wearing him down and taking some of the sting out of his punches.
Godbeer visibly slowed in round two, and Kongo took advantage. He clinched the Brit from behind, driving powerful knees into his legs. Godbeer reversed position to face Kongo, but the French powerhouse unloaded with knees to the body and eventually to the head, followed with an uppercut, toppling his defenseless opponent.
Kongo moves on to the heavyweight tournament final.
Vinicius Spartan, however, didn’t event give UFC and Strikeforce vet Lavar Johnson a chance to get warmed up before taking him out. Spartan hit Johnson with a clean right hand, sending him face first into the canvas.
Johnson woke up within a few moments, but not before Spartan punched his ticket to the heavyweight final opposite Kongo.
Eduardo Dantas hasn’t fought since a difficult, emotional victory over his friend and mentor Marco Galvao in February. A date isn’t yet set for his next defense, but he now has an opponent.
Rafael Silva took Anthony Leone to the wire, but the Brazilian dominated all three rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory, earning the next shot at Dantas.
Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko has already made one defense of his belt, and will step back in the cage again at Bellator 108 to defend against Doug Marshall. There are some solid middleweights knocking on the door of the next title shot, though. Chief among them are Mikkel Parlo and Brennan Ward.
Parlo stated his case as a contender by taking a unanimous decision victory over Jason Butcher on Friday night, while Ward bounced back from a difficult first round to submit Joe Pacheco in the second.
Parlo and Ward will now square off in the middleweight final, the victor earning a shot at the belt, at Bellator 107 on Nov. 8, the week before the Shlemenko vs. Marshall fight.
Main Card Bouts:
-Cheick Kongo def. Mark Godbeer via TKO (Knees) at 2:04, R2
-Vinicius Spartan def. Lavar Johnson via KO (Punch) at 0:23, R1
-Rafael Silva def. Anthony Leone by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Mikkel Parlo def. Jason Butcher by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
-Brennan Ward def. Joe Pacheco via Sub (Guillotine) – Round 2, 2:41
Preliminary Card Bouts:
-Scott Cleve def. Isaac De Jesus via TKO (Strikes) at 3:14, R2
-Javy Ayala def. Thiago Santos via KO (Punches) at 5:00, R1
-Brandon Girtz def. Poppies Martinez via Sub (Armbar) at 1:20, R1
-Stephen Martinez def. Bryan Travers via Sub (Guillotine Choke) at 0:56, R1
-Cain Carrizosa def. Juan Quesada via Sub (Triangle Choke) at 4:51, R2
-Brandon Cash def. William Richey via TKO (Retirement) at 5:00, R2
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