It was billed as the biggest UK event that Bellator had ever held and even though many fights went the full distance, there was lots of action that gave some memorable moments. A new champion was crowned, Paul Daley and Erick Silva put on a crazy battle and young prospects continued to build their records. Although lots of the evening was positive, UK fans were left disgruntled as they weren’t able to watch Fabian Edwards, Mike Shipman/Costello van Steenis and Charlie Ward live as was advertised. This was a big slip up from Bellator that they need to assure doesn’t happen in the future.
Rafael Lovato Jr. pulled off the upset in the main event as he won a majority decision to take the title from Gegard Mousasi in a fascinating bout which saw continuous momentum shifts. The American controlled the grappling during the first two rounds but Mousasi did a good job at utilising the butterfly hooks to limit the amount of offense his opponent could get off. Lovato Jr. was clearly two rounds up heading into the third round and began the round with more grappling success as he took the champion down despite a blatant fence grab. He proceeded to take the back of Mousasi and things weren’t looking good for the UFC veteran. However, the tide looked as though it was turning when Lovato Jr. slipped onto the bottom and Mousasi followed up his some great shots. The momentum shift looked as though it was continuing into the fourth as a right uppercut dropped Lovato Jr. to make it even on the scorecards with Mousasi clearly looking the stronger heading into the final frame. Despite being bloodied up and looking as though he was fading, Lovato mustered up all of his remaining energy to land one final takedown which proved decisive. From there, he took the back, locked in the body triangle and threatened with the rear-naked choke. Lovato Jr. moves to 10-0 and now has a major MMA belt to add to his already stunning resume in combat sports. It will be interesting to see who Bellator give him as his first defense with no obvious, standout contenders on the horizon. Following his win against Chael Sonnen last week, Lyoto Machida may have the best claim to that shot on the roster.
In the evening’s co-main event, Melvin Manhoef and Kent Kauppinen engaged in a stand-up battle where the fight was always one strike away from being over. Both were tentative at the beginning but action quickly picked up once Kauppinen dropped Manhoef with a big punch. Kaupinnen followed the Dutchman down to the floor but Manhoef quickly scrambled back to his feet before landed a monster right hand that sent Kauppinen to the canvas. The unanimous decision for Manhoef was confirmed later on in the fight when he dropped the Englishman again and followed up with damaging ground and pound. The legend made is clear that he wants a final fight in Holland before he draws the curtain on his career.
The Channel 5 part of the show opened up with UK reality TV star, Aaron Chalmers to try and hook in some of the casual viewing audience. There was a noticeable drop-off in quality with this fight due to both being relatively inexperienced inside the cage. Chalmers hurt Fred Freeman on the feet but rushed in too quickly to follow up and fell into the clinch. Later on in the fight, Chalmers took his opponent down and remained in full guard for a while. After a stalemate with neither man attempting to do anything, the referee stood both fighters up before Freeman went for a takedown but ended up being submitted by a Chalmer’s triangle choke. ‘The Joker’ bounces back after the first loss of his career and will look to make further progress under his new head coach, Alex Enland.
In the Bellator 223 main event, fans were treated to an absolute cracker between Paul Daley and Erick Silva in a bout that had it all. The Brazilian looked good during the first round as he landed some good punches early to get Daley to respect his power. This opened up the takedown and Silva pounced on the opportunity as he took the Englishman down. He followed this up by moving to the back after some initial Daley resistance to see out the round. Round two was where the craziness began as Daley landed a big uppercut and chased Silva around the cage going after the finish. ‘Semtex’ fended off all of the takedown attempts coming his way and dropped Silva again before following him to the ground and landing more big strikes. During the final round, Silva continued to hang tough but couldn’t get the better of Daley on the feet as he fell to a unanimous decision defeat. This was a very important victory for Daley as he remains a factor in the division and can look forward to more big fights while Silva should have done enough to guarantee another fight in the promotion.
To open up the Sky Sports portion of the card, James Gallagher defeated Jeremiah Labiano by unanimous decision but the Irishman didn’t have things all his own way. Gallagher opened up with his usual karate stance and looked to move in and out quickly to hit and not get hit. He landed a beautiful takedown where he shifted his weight quickly one way and then the other to off-balance the American. ‘The Strabanimal’ moved to side control for a considerable amount of time before Labiano regained guard. During the second round, Labiano landed some solid strikes on the feet while Gallagher also landed an impactful punch which caught Labiano at the end of an exchange. The American spent some time on top of Gallagher after threatening with an armbar to close out the round. Gallagher was back to his grappling best in the final round as he returned Labiano to the mat and trapped one of the American’s arms in his legs in the process so he had a compromised defense. Labiano attempted to roll for a leg but Gallagher resisted before moving to full mount. It was a solid display from Irishman that surely sets up a main event at the 3Arena in Dublin towards the end of September.
Many thought that Fabian Edwards would have an easy night at the office against Bellator newcomer, Jonathan Bosuku, that would end with a highlight reel finish but he couldn’t get into his usual groove. The most action in the fight came in the first thirty seconds as Edwards knocked his opponent off balance and charged in with a flying knee which he had successfully ended a fight with earlier on in his career. Over the three rounds, the majority of the fight played out on the feet with the most damaging strikes coming from Edward’s left side that landed repeatedly. Bosuku did land a late takedown in the third but it was too little too late as Edward’s progressed to 8-0, remaining undefeated.
In a fight that flew totally under the radar leading up to the event, Costello van Steenis landed a huge knockout against Mike ‘Seabass’ Shipman to make a big statement to move to 4-0 in Bellator. Shipman got a body lock takedown early but his adversary got back to his feet almost immediately. Shortly after, Shipman worked for a ten-finger guillotine but the Dutchman broke free before securing a takedown of his own. Costello van Steenis landed some elbows from the top to open up half guard and then progressed to mount as the horn was blown. In the second round, Shipman landed with a good punch to the body and van Steenis answered immediately with a kick. The clinch was then re-established by Shipman against the cage but the Dutchman found some space to fire off some brutal standing elbows which dropped Shipman. He followed up with some more strikes to seal the victory and consequently stamping himself as a player in the Bellator middleweight division.
Bellator 223 kicked off with a clash between Charlie Ward and Justin Moore at 185lbs. The fight began by Moore moving forward and pushing Ward against the fence, achieving a takedown in the process. The Englishman established half guard before moving to mount where Ward accepted bottom position and tried to thwart Moore by keeping him close to his body. The SBG Ireland product managed to get out of mount, worked to his feet and successfully completed a takedown of his own. It was much of the same at the start of the second frame as Moore got another takedown early door. This time he managed to take the back of Ward almost immediately and began working for a rear naked choke. Moore was unable to get the forearm under the chin to finish the submission and Ward was able to reverse position and land some huge punches from the top. He continued to rain down strikes until referee, Leon Roberts, had seen enough and waved off the contest.
Bellator’s next stop over on these shores comes on Friday, September 27th from the 3Arena in Dublin. James Gallagher is expected to headline and a host of other Irish names will be on the card. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow over the coming weeks for fight announcements.
Bellator London: Mousasi vs. Lovato Jr. Main Card
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Gegard Mousasi via majority decision (47-47, 48-47, 48-47) to win Bellator middleweight title
Melvin Manhoef def Kent Kauppinen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Aaron Chalmers def. Fred Freeman via submission (triangle choke) at 4:05 of round 2
Bellator 223: Daley vs Silva
Paul Daley def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
James Gallagher def Jeremiah Labiano via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Fabian Edwards def. Jonathan Bosuku via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Costello van Steenis def. Mike Shipman via KO (punches) at 1:34 of round 2
Charlie Ward def. Justin Moore via TKO (punches) at 3:23 of round 2
Bellator London Preliminary Card
Oliver Enkamp def. Walter Gahadza by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:54 of round 1
Denise Kielholtz def Bryony Tyrell via TKO (strikes) at 2:48 of round 3
Charlie Leary def. Chris Bungard via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
Kate Jackson def. Lena Ovchynnikova via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 4:20 of round 1
Terry Brazier def. Alessandro Botti via submission (Americana) at 2:17 of round 3
Luke Ord def Nathan Rose via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-25)
Alfie Davis def. Jorge Kanella via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Justin Burlinson def. Wendle Lewis via verbal submission (injury) at :09 of round 1
Galore Bofando def Keith McCabe via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Kevin Fryer def. John Redmond via split decision (29-28, 28-29 29-28)
Frans Mlambo def. Nathan Greyson via submission (D’Arce choke) at 4:22 of round 2
About the author