With celebrities and MMA legends, the likes of Tommy Lasorda, Charlie Hough, Jermaine Dye, Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye and Frank Shamrock in attendance, the Bellator MMA organization returned to the Bren Events Center in Irvine, CA for the first time since its debut on Spike at Bellator 85.
In the Main Event, it took the full five rounds, but Will Brooks (16-1) from Schaumburg, Illinois made his first defense of his Bellator Lightweight title by defeating Dave “The Fugitive” Jansen (20-3) from Corbett, Oregon via an unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the bout 49-46 in his favor.
After a clear cut opening frame that saw “The Fugitive” surprise Brooks with his explosive kicking and punching, Brooks turned the tide, slowed down the pace and used his renown grappling techniques to dominate the remaining four rounds.
After 15 minutes of co-main event action, Rafael Carvalho improved to 11-1, earning a split decision victory [28-29, 30-27, 29-28] over Joe Schilling (2-4). Like Brooks, the young Brazilian slowed the fight down and nullified Schilling’s striking ability. To his credit, one judge did have Schilling winning the match.
In a battle of submission specialists, Marcin Held (21-3) finished Tiger Sarnavskiy (30-3) via verbal submission caused by a knee bar at 1:11 of round three. With the win, Held has now won 12 of his 21 professional fights via submission.
The first televised scrap of the evening featured heavyweights Tony “The Hulk” Johnson (8-2) and Alexander Volkov (6-1). After three grueling rounds, “The Hulk” remains undefeated. Johnson was awarded a [29-28, 28-29, 29-28] split decision. Overall it was the wrestling of Johnson that earned him the victory. Now, he returns home to his fiancée and two daughters, where he doubles as a self-proclaimed “Mr. Mom.”
Joey Beltran (16-11) bounced back from a lackluster opening round to take rounds two and three and ultimately defeat Brian Rogers (11-8) via a majority decision [28-28, 29-28, 29-27]. “The Mexicutioner” was impressive while “The Predator” has now dropped four of his last five fights.
By dominating in all three rounds, Saad Awad (18-6) comes away with an unanimous decision victory over Rob Sinclair (12-3). With the win, Awad moves even closer to a trilogy fight with the lightweight champion Will Brooks.
In the opening bout of the evening, John “Macapa” Teixeira (18-1-2) defeated Fabricio Guerreiro (20-4) via split decision [29-28, 28-29, 29-28]. Guerreiro has now dropped two of his last three bouts, while “Macapa” has won three straight.
A. J. McKee (1-0) made a successful professional debut submitting Marcos Bonilla (1-2) by applying a rear-naked choke at 2:08 of round one.
Chad George (16-8) finished Mark Vorgeas (5-3-1) with the rarely seen Von Flue Choke at 3:37 of the first round. There was no tap or verbal submission by Vorgeas, as George had to inform the referee that his opponent had gone unconscious. The Los Angeles native now has nine submission wins in his young career. Check out this instructional video on the rarely seen but oh so affective Jason Von Flue choke.
Justin Governale (4-2) from Laguna Hills, Calif. submitted Jay Bogan (6-5) from Irvine, Calif. via rear-naked choke at the 2:09 mark of round two. It was an exciting end to a fight that Governale nearly finished with strikes.
Steve Ramirez (1-1) finished Jonathan Santa Maria (3-1) with a toehold at 3:29 of round one.
Cleber Luciano (11-5) finished Aaron Miller (14-10) with an arm bar at 4:36 of round two.
In closing everyone was asking what happened in the Luc Bondole (6’2”, 185.6 lbs., 4-1-2) from Kings MMA, Portland, Maine) versus Chris “The Crusher” Herrera (5’8”, 186 pounds, from Team Quest, Temecula, Calif.) bout. The bout didn’t even get started until after 10 p.m. That’s a very long wait for the two fighters.
Here is an after fight statement from Luc Bondole: “The bout ended in a split decision draw! Honestly, I’m not satisfied with the result and I just have to work harder!!! It was a blessing to have my mother in the stands to watch me fight. Back to the gym on Monday. With that being said, I had fun, I love my job! Thank you to Kings MMA Church Boyz and Misfits MMA. All Glory to God!!!”
Chris Herrera: “The fight was a DRAW!! I don’t know what happened tonight, just did not perform the way I should have. I take nothing away from my opponent a tuff guy for sure! I felt I did ok for fighting on 10 days notice… Thank you to all my supporters and coaches! Big shout out to my main coach Rolando Montano, this guy is the man for sure! Thank you to the Lord for keeping me safe!”