Carvalho hadn’t lost since the first fight of his professional career, and this was the first defense of his title.
Carvalho and Manhoef spent much of the first round at distance, throwing a few exploratory strikes, but neither mounted any significant offense.
Manhoef finally started his typical head hunting in round two, landing a hard punch and head kick early in the frame. Carvalho appeared to have little to offer in response. Realizing this, Manhoef landed a thundering kick to the midsection that shuddered Carvalho, but didn’t send him down. Manhoef backed off for the next couple minutes, but finally landed a few hard shots with about a minute left in the round.
As the round wore down, Carvalho landed a knee to the groin. Referee John McCarthy yelled to stop, but Carvalho landed a hard elbow to the head before McCarthy could step in and separate them, which drew a warning for fighting after he was told to stop. It didn’t appear to faze Manhoef, as he landed another high kick before the close of the round.
Manhoef started fast in round three, but quickly took a poke to the eye. Shortly after restarting, Carvalho landed another eye poke, garnering a last warning from McCarthy.
Carvalho clinched, but Manhoef tossed him away and landed a couple hard left hands. Carvalho, however, regained his clinch and took Manhoef down, but couldn’t keep him there. Returning to their feet, the clinch still intact, Carvalho drove another knee to Manhoef’s groin. McCarthy went to Carvalho’s corner and warned his cornerman to be sure their fighter understood that he would be given no more chances, and again warned about the fingers to the eyes.
With two minutes left in the third frame after the restart, most of it was spent in the clinch, Carvalho in control and landing a few knees to the body.
Carvalho tried to shoot early in the fourth round, but Manhoef sprawled and then clocked him with a solid punch to the head. It wasn’t enough to keep Carvalho from continuing to press forward. He did and took Manhoef to the ground, immediately going to side control. He wasn’t able to do anything with the position, as Manhoef brought the fight back to the feet midway through the frame.
Manhoef was much more aggressive in the final frame, the first time in his career that he had gone to the fourth and fifth rounds of a fight, but still had a difficult time landing the crippling blow that would end the fight. Carvalho tried to again take Manhoef down, but Manhoef fought off the takedown and tossed the champion to his back, landing in Carvalho’s full guard.
Carvalho eventually kicked Manhoef off of him, but when he returned to his feet, just turned and walked away from him instead of engaging, looking as if he didn’t care to be in the fight, likely knowing that he was down on the scorecards. It was a horrendous finish to a lackluster fight, that left fans booing at the final bell.
The only thing worse than the way the fight unravelled was how the judging unfolded. Utterly unbelievably, the judges saw fit to score the fight 47-48, 48-47, and 48-47 in favor of the champion, Carvalho.
Manhoef was not his typical self, seemingly holding back throughout the fight, but he appeared to be the clear winner at the end, particularly with the foul-ridden performance by Carvalho, who was loathe to engage for much of the fight. Carvalho, however, retained his Bellator middleweight championship.
Curran looked good from the opening bell, dropping Karakhanyan with a left hook. He followed Karakhanyan to the canvas and kept him there for the majority of the opening frame, but couldn’t put him away, as the Russian fighter did a good job tying Curran up, while he recovered.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 21, 2016
Things didn’t get immediately better for Karakhanyan in round two, as he shot from too far out, and Curran ended up in top position on the floor. Curran was in control for the better part of the round, even taking Karakhanyan’s back at one point, before getting reversed and spending much of the final minute of round two on his back.
Down two rounds going into the third and final frame, Karakhanyan finally took control of the fight, putting Curran on his back and controlling from top position, but it was too little, too late, as Curran was awarded the unanimous nod from the judges.
It was a tough night for the heavyweights, as Dan Charles and Augusto Sakai went the distance, but still didn’t determine a winner. According to Compustrike Charles outlanded Sakai 35-23 in total strikes, but Sakai had an 11-4 edge in power strikes landed. The judges also saw it too close to call, handing out a majority draw.
The scoring of the bout wasn’t without controversy, however, as two judges had it 28-28, while the third inexplicably scored it 30-26 for Charles.
After having won her first two Bellator fights, Marloes Coenen was supposed to have fought Julia Budd for the featherweight championship on Friday night, but Budd fell out of the fight. With Budd out, Coenen was matched with Alexis Dufresne in a non-tital bout. Now it appears that Coenen may have to wait quite some time for that title shot, as Dufresne played her spoiler roll to a tee.
Dufresne took Coenen down right away and spent much of the round in top position, methodically peppering Coenen with short punches. With two minutes left in the first frame, Coenen swept and reversed position, but it didn’t play to her favor. Dufresne slipped on a triangle. Unable to secure the choke, she instead extended the armbar at the 4:33 mark for the submission.
“Honestly, the disrespect from yesterday (at the weigh-in), getting in my face, not shaking my hand, thank you, that was all the fuel I needed,” Dufresne said after the fight.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 21, 2016
Neither Chase Gormley nor Joey Beltran did much to elevate their status in the heavyweight division and get into title contention for the vacant belt. After three full rounds to open the Bellator 155 telecast on Spike, Gormley went home the winner, earning a split decision from the judges.
Bellator 155 Results
Main Card Bouts:
- Rafael Carvalho def. Melvin Manhoef via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
- Pat Curran def. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Dan Charles vs. Augusto Sakai declared a majority draw (28-28, 28-28, 30-26)
- Alexis Dufresne def. Marloes Coenen via submission (triangle armbar) at 4:33, R1
- Chase Gormley def. Joey Beltran via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Preliminary Card Bouts:
- Jesse Brock def. Olly Bradstreet via submission (rear-naked choke) AT 3:57, R3
- Marcin Held def. Dave Jansen via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Casey Johnson def. Brendon Raftery via submission (rear-naked choke) AT 1:16, R2
- Joe Hamilton def. Tyler Freeman via submission (rear-naked choke) AT 0:22, R1
- Vincent Morales def. Hamilton Ash via knockout (punches) at 2:32, R3