Bellator 125: Marshall vs. Manhoef goes off tonight from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California with a surefire slug-fest between volatile strikers Doug “The Rhino” Marshall and Melvin Manhoef in the headlining role.
Human highlight-reel Brian “The Predator” Rogers welcomes lanky Muay Thai specialist Rafael Carvalho to the Bellator ranks in the co-main event while England’s Martin Stapleton makes his featherweight debut against still-surging prospect Goiti Yamauchi. The featured card will open with another fan-friendly firecracker as former pro boxer Raphael Butler meets heavy-handed wrestle-boxer Javy Ayala in a heavyweight scrap.
Bellator 125 Main Card
(Spike TV at 9:00 p.m. ET)
Melvin Manhoef vs. Doug Marshall
R1: Marshall fires first with an outside low kick but he gets a tad off-balance on his one-two and Manhoef counters with a left to the head. Manhoef’s left roundhouse kick connects low and we pause while Marshall recovers. On the restart, Manhoef crams a huge overhand right down Marshall’s throat but “The Rhino” takes it like a champ and fires back with a left and a one-two. Step-in knee and high right roundhouse kick from Manhoef but Marshall defends well.
Marshall gets tagged for keeping his head on-center when attacking with his left/right combo, then Manhoef sits down on a scorching one-two that lands. Manhoef backs Marshall up with more punches, then plants his feet and bounces a right-handed meatball off Marshall’s head, which pulls Marshall’s plug. He’s face-down and out cold.
- Melvin Manhoef defeats Doug Marshall by KO (punch) at 1:45 of Round 1
Chris Honeycutt vs. Aaron Wilkinson
R1: Honeycutt wastes no time in nailing a reactive double-leg takedown as Wilkinson comes in firing 15 seconds into the round. Honeycutt cross-faces Wilkinson and moves to half guard, then takes the back-ride as Wilkinson postures up and spins out. Wilkinson takes a knee and stays latched on to Honeycutt’s hips in a futile attempt to take the decorated wrestler down. Honeycutt gets the kimura grip to disrupt the takedown and uses the open space to get the body lock.
From there, he changes levels for a double leg and dumps Wilkinson. Honeycutt is warned for the placement of an elbow but keeps a steady stream of leather in Wilkinson’s face, all the while advancing position and ending up in mount. Now Wilkinson, who’s taking a beating but showing some spirit, gives up his back but finds no respite from Honeycutt’s rhythmic drubbing. 10-8 Honeycutt.
R2: A battered Wilkinson swings two hooks but his feet are planted heavily for fear of the looming takedown. And for good reason — Honeycutt glides across the floor and scoops Wilkinson off his feet easily with a double leg. As in the opening round, Wilkinson splits his time covering to defend the constant downpour of punches and seeking a way out from underneath the wrestler’s heavy base. The dull thud of punches landing might as well be a metronome and finally, the referee has seen enough.
- Chris Honeycutt defeats Aaron Wilkinson by TKO (punches … so many punches) at 4:45 of Round 2
Rafael Carvalho vs. Brian Rogers
R1: Two cautious lead-leg, inside low kicks from Rogers early, then he commits to a left and a heavy overhand right. Rogers digs alternating right and left hooks to the body as Carvalho closes range with a tall stance, looking for the double collar tie. Rogers keeps the one-two combos coming, pouring it on with an explosive string of combos that nearly tallies to a dozen.
Rogers heaves an uppercut to Carvalho’s chin and then just misses with a chopping horizontal elbow. Carvalho, now way of Rogers’ wheelhouse, adjusts his distance and starts working from range. He follows a right front kick with a left step-in knee that connects to the body, then nullifies a throw attempt from Rogers. Now a right kick to set up a piston-like left hand that lands for Carvalho, and the Brazilian flings another hard left through Rogers’ guard that snaps his head back. With Rogers on wobbly legs, Carvalho opens up with both hands and stays on the trigger until the ref waves it off.
- Rafael Carvalho defeats Brian Rogers by TKO (punches) at 3:06 of Round 1
Julio Cesar Neves vs. Poppies Martinez
R1: Quick, snapping jab and a front kick from Neves, then a nasty outside low kick that’s half checked. Uh-oh … Neves gets silly with it, putting his hands down and doing a Mark Jackson-esque shoulder and hip wiggle in an unexpected outburst of showboating. He justifies it: Neves plunges a spinning heel kick to the body that floors Martinez, then flurries with big punches as Martinez dives on a desperation single leg. He wisely backs off and lets Martinez back up.
Neves goes airborne with a flying knee that Martinez deflects but Neves swarms him with a unending salvo of heavy punches to punctuate the showtime performance.
- Julio Cesar Neves defeats Poppies Martinez by TKO (punches) at 2:16 of Round 1
Javy Ayala vs. Raphael Butler
R1: Ayala bum-rushes Butler and dings with him a wide one-two before sandwiching him against the fence with an underhook. Butler counters with his own underhook to stay upright but can’t switch to the front headlock fast enough when Ayala changes levels and dumps him with a double leg. Ayala is a tattooed blur when they hit the ground, virtually teleporting into back control, sinking both hooks in and torquing a mata leao to coax the tapout. “Eye Candy” shows blinding speed for having the girth of a 265-pound man in a dominant and impressive throttling.
- Javy Ayala defeats Raphael Butler by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:03 of Round 1
Martin Stapleton vs. Goiti Yamauchi
R1: Yamauchi tries to catch a knee and work a takedown but Stapleton hits a counter throw. Yamauchi immediately whirls into an omoplata and triangles his feet to keep Stapleton’s right arm trapped. Stapleton shows good patience and composure while defending the shoulder lock for nearly a minute. Stapleton explodes out to break the position but Yamauchi flows into back mount with both hooks in, switching to a body triangle shortly after.
Yamauchi fishes for the rear-naked choke and wrenches a neck crank when he can’t get under Stapleton’s chin. Stapleton toughs it all out and pushes on Yamachi’s hip to spin out of back mount, but Yamauchi goes from half-guard to side control to back mount once again in an amazing display of transitional grappling. This time he threads his forearm under Stapleton’s chin and constricts with his whole body to elicit the tap.
- Goiti Yamauchi defeats Martin Stapleton by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:37 of Round 1
Preliminary Card results
- Joe Neal defeats Paul Ruiz by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
- Matthew Ramirez defeats Oscar Ramirez by submission (armbar) Round 1
- Julio Cesar Neves defeats Poppies Martinez by TKO (spinning kick/punches) Round 1
- Chris Honeycutt defeats Aaron Wilkinson by TKO (punches) Round 2
- Jonny Bonilla-Bowman defeats Art Becerra by split decision (28-29, 29-28 x 2)
- Jesse Juarez defeats Ron Keslar by unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
- George Zuniga defeats Granson Clark by KO (punches) Round 1
Nate James vs. Anthony Ruiz (dark bout)
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