by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Bellator Fighting Championships closed the book on their second season with two more tournament champions being crowed as Alexander Shlemenko knocked out heavily favored fighter Bryan Baker in the middleweight division, while Joe Warren battled back from nearly being finished to defeat Patrcio “Pitbull” Freire by split decision to win the featherweight tournament.
Heading into Thursday night’s Bellator finals, Alexander Shlemenko had been a striker who had done well, but looked to run into a brick wall facing grappling and wrestling stand-out Bryan Baker. Looks like it’s one for the strikers with this fight.
Shlemenko came out firing everything in his arsenal at Baker, but eventually connected flush with a big right hand followed by a knee to the breadbasket, that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. The Russian followed up with a barrage of strikes on the ground before the referee came in for the save.
Now the winner of the season 2 Bellator middleweight tournament, Shlemenko will get the chance to face their champion, American Top Team fighter Hector Lombard, later this year.
“This victory means that strikers soon will be all over MMA and that Bellator Fighting Championships will be owned by the strikers,” said Shlemenko after the win.
The other tournament final on the card saw former NCAA All-American and 2012 Olympic hopeful Joe Warren cap off his season two run with probably his toughest fight to date in Bellator as he defeated Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
The win didn’t come easy as Freire took Warren down in the first round, and unleashed bombs and submissions on his opponent, nearly finishing him, but could not before the round ended. The near finish would come back to haunt Freire as his attacks slowed for the rest of the fight, and Warren went on the offensive.
Warren attacked in the second and third rounds with takedowns, followed up with elbows and punches on the ground. When it was over, Warren won a split decision over Freire and now awaits a likely August showdown with Bellator featherweight king Joe Soto.
“I feel tired but I’m very happy now. I fought a great fighter in Pitbull and now I’m the champion. I’m the baddest man on the planet,” Warren proclaimed.
The women of Bellator took to the cage on Thursday night with former Strikeforce fighter Zoila Frausto destroyed previously top ranked 125lb fighter Rosi Sexton. A knee strike landed flush on Sexton’s chin, and Frausto didn’t waste any time to follow up with punches on the ground before the fight was stopped.
Also on the card was Nik Mamalis who earned a spot in the upcoming Bellator bantamweight tournament set to start in August, as he defeated Albert Rios by TKO in the first round of their fight on Thursday night.