Ben Askren (Top) defeating Douglas Lima (Bottom) at Bellator 64. (Photo courtesy of Rob Reynolds/MMADieHards)
The Bellator welterweight championship did not change hands, and a Bellator Season 6 welterweight finalist and two bantamweight semifinalists have been decided.
Ben Askren defended his 170-pound title against Douglas Lima in a five round affair.
Marlon Sandro won a close split-decision against Alexandre Bezerra to go on to the Bellator Season 6 welterweight finale.
Travis Marx picked up a unanimous decision victory to beat Masakatsu Ueda, and Hiroshi Nakamura weathered a couple of grueling shots en route to defeating Rodrigo Lima to advance to the bantamweight semifinals.
Lima avoided the takedown of Askren in the early going, but the inevitable happened about midway through the opening frame. Askren put Lima on his back, but he did not have his way with him. The Brazilian was striking off his back and attempted various submissions. Nevertheless, the bout remained on the mat until the round ended.
Round 2 began and so did the takedown. After eating a high front-kick, Askren put Lima on his back. Lima was in mount position for a brief moment, but Askren gained top control and smothered the Brazilian for the remainder of the round.
It should come as no surprise that within the first minute of the fourth frame the fight was on the mat. Askren dominated Lima with ground and pound, yet also attempted a submission, but the former MFC welterweight champion avoided tapping out. The ref stood the bout back up and the round ended with Askren controlling Lima on the ground.
Round 4 showed some of Lima’s feature striking, but before long, the contest was back on the ground. Askren didn’t cause as much damage as he did in earlier rounds, but he still controlled the frame. Lima was close to completing an armbar, but the champ pulled out. The round finalized with Askren laying in Lima’s guard, and “The Phenom” appearing fatigued.
Round 5, 30 seconds in and Lima was on his back again. Askren pinned Lima against the cage on the floor, postured up and unleashed ground and pound for the final four minutes of the fight.
Askren won a decisive decision and remained the Bellator welterweight champion, and he commented on the fans that don’t appreciate his wrestling ability.
“If you don’t like wrestling in MMA there’s a sport called boxing,” Askren stated in a post-fight interview.
The intensity from the moment the bell rang could be felt throughout the venue. Sandro and Bezerra exchanged punches and kicks, and every strike had ill intentions behind it. Though, each fighter landed shots that resembled the sound of a yard stick cracking a chalkboard, the heaviest bombs kept missing. Sandro dropped Bezerra on two separate occasions with leg kicks, but never had the opportunity to capitalize on the downed opponent. The round came to a halt as Sandro was readying to throw a flying-knee.
Bezerra showed good head movement and threw more kicks in the beginning of the second frame, but had trouble getting inside the longer Marlon. Neither fighter showed an interest in taking the bout to the canvas, but in the final minute of the round, Sandro attempted a double-leg takedown that was rejected. Both Brazilians happily traded strikes until the bout ran out of time.
In a change of pace, Bezerra charged out of his corner at the beginning of the third round and took Sandro to the mat. Sandro nullified the attacks and the bout resumed to standing. Bezerra clipped Sandro and the Bellator Season 5 welterweight finalist dropped, but it was hard clarify if it was a knock down or a slip. Bezerra continued to push the pressure, landing more punches on Sandro and being the aggressor as the round finalized.
Sandro went on to win a split decision and advance to the Bellator Season 6 welterweight finals.
Marx had an answer for anything Ueda came at him with in this bantamweight quarterfinal contest.
After a minute and a half of a feeling out process, Marx locked his hands around Ueda and slammed the Japanese mixed martial artist to the canvas. Ueda reacted quickly and went for a kimura from the bottom, but Marx was free in no time. The bout eventuated to its feet and both combatants traded leather until the frame finalized.
Marx came out of his corner in the second round and attempted a flying-knee that missed. Ueda tackled the American to the mat and ended up in Marx’s guard. The two bantamweights competed for a dominate position, as they each took turns from back to mount to back control. Marx had Ueda in a peculiar position that appeared as if he was trying to accomplish a variation of a triangle-choke. Ueda defended and the bout returned to standing and striking.
The final round started and both fighters took the center of the cage. Neither athlete backed down, as they exchanged punches and kicks, to the head and body. Ueda managed to grapple Marx to the ground, and after he could not get the Utah native’s back, he tried to achieve a crucifix. The maneuver was never completed and they returned to competing on their feet.
They stood toe-to-toe as the match ended, trading sloppy strikes, not retreating from one another.
Marx came away the winner, with all three judges awarding him the bout.
Nakamura’s N. American debut went well for him, but not so much for his groin.
The fight hit the mat immediately and Lima attempted a submission. Nakamura defended well, and following a chess match on the ground, the Japanese native was back to his feet while Lima laid on his back. Nakamura circled his opponent, slamming his shin against Lima’s calf, but the Brazilian swiftly leapt to his feet and secured standing back-control.
After a short break due to a groin shot that Nakamura was on the wrong end of, the action continued and Lima came out guns a blazing. Nakamura absorbed a few heavy shots to the dome, but clinched up and the fight made its way back to the floor as the round ended.
The second round began with yet another knee to the groin from Lima. A brief pause occurred and the bout ensued. Nakamura latched a body lock on Lima and dragged him to the ground. After tussling against the cage on the mat, Lima went for a series of submissions, including two triangle-chokes and an armbar. Nakamura fought off the submission efforts, but then had to deal with Lima’s ankle and leg-lock attempts. The round ended with Lima being deducted a point for his pair of strikes to where the sun don’t shine.
Round 3 began and Lima was on his back almost instantly. “Ratinho” landed strikes and tried to complete any submission that presented itself to him. In the closing minute of the round, both fighters were intertwined in each other’s heel-hooks. The referee stood the combatants back up, but the match ended shortly thereafter.
Nakamura picked up a unanimous decision, 29-27 on all accounts, and “Iron” commented on his first bout on a new continent.
“This is my first time in North America, now that I am over that I look forward to fighting here again,” he said.