Daniel Straus rebounded from losing the featherweight title to Pat Curran in March at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. on Friday by scoring a quick finish over Justin Wilcox in the Bellator 127 main event.
Wilcox took the fight to Straus and was the aggressor, but his strategy ended up working against him. He rushed forward one too many times and Straus caught him with a hard left hand. Wilcox fell face down on the canvas and Straus finished with follow-up strikes on the ground.
“I told you what I was going to come in here and do. I’m going to tell you that I’m going to go get that belt and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” said the American Top Team trained fighter following the win.
“I knew he was going to come in real heavy, maybe try and grapple with me. I put that left hand on him, put him to bed. Boom,” he added.
Fernando Gonzalez finished former WEC welterweight champion Karo “The Heat” Parisyan in the opening round of the co-main event. Gonzalez moved forward from the opening bell. Parisyan rushed in looking to get to the clinch position and Gonzalez hit him with a left hook that put Parisyan on his back. Gonzalez, sensing a finish, jumped on Parisyan and landed punches until the referee had seen enough.
“It feels great,” said Gonzalez after the win and then dedicated the victory to fallen friends. “Two weeks ago I had a friend of mine get murdered. It’s been really tough. I want to dedicate this to our friend Trip, who has passed away, but he’s always with us in our hearts. And to Shark, who passed away on my birthday.”
“I train with one of the best teams in the world, Team Quest. We’ve been doing this – Dan Henderson, thanks to him. I’ve learned so much in nine years training under him and I appreciate everything he’s done for me. It’s showing here today and with all of our other fighters that train at Team Quest,” he added.
Rafael Silva logged a dominating performance against Rob Emers
The two were content to exchange on their feet in the early going. Silva landed a right hand that sent Emerson crashing to the canvas less than a minute into the opening round. He followed Emerson to the ground, but Emerson did a good job controlling Silva’s posture and not taking further damage. The referee stood the fighters up, but Silva quickly took Emerson down. It was a dominant round for the Brazilian.
Emerson overcommitted on a punch in the beginning of the second stanza, and Silva secured a double leg takedown. Emerson worked to get to his feet, but Silva controlled the Californian throughout the frame. The referee stood them up and Emerson landed a left hook that made Silva shoot for a takedown. The round ended with Silva in Emerson’s guard landing short punches.
Emerson came out aggressive in the final frame. He inches forward behind his jab, but Silva quickly took him down. Emerson worked his way back to his feet and landed a left hand that stunned Silva. Silva went to his wrestling and took Emerson down. After a referee stand up, Emerson began delivering powerful leg kicks, but Silva’s ability to get the fight to the ground was the story of the fight. The judges unanimously scored the bout for Silva.
Winner of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, Kendall Grove, defeated former Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu by submission to kick off the main card. M’Pumbu’s middleweight debut didn’t get off to a great start. Grove dropped he Frenchman in the first exchange with a right hand. M’Pumbu recovered and worked his way back to his feet, but Grove won the round.
Grove used his jab to keep M’Pumbu on the outside in the second frame. M’Pumbu landed with his right hand, but as he looked to be finding his timing and range, Grove changed levels and took the fight to the ground. M’Pumbu gave up his back and Grove locked on a rear-naked choke ending the fight.
“I ain’t nobody’s stepping-stone. I’m here to stay. I think I just proved it finishing a former light heavyweight champ. I want that belt. I’m going to make my way to the top one guy at a time,” said Grove following the win.
Bellator 127 Official Results:
Daniel Straus def. Justin Wilcox by KO at 0:50, R1
Fernando Gonzalez def. Karo Parisyan by TKO (strikes) at 1:43, R1
Rafael Silva def. Rob Emerson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Kendall Grove def. Christian M’Pumbu by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:14, R2
Ray Sloan def. Nick Moghaddam by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Saad Awad def. Sergio Rios by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Keith Berry def. Joe Pacheco by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Thierry Sokoudjou def. Malik Merad by TKO (strikes) at 4:04, R2
Ricky Rainy def. Johnny Cisneros by TKO (strikes) at 3:18, R1
Justin Baesman def. John Mercurio by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)