Joe Warren returned to the Bellator tournament the only way he knows how – charging forward.
In his first bout since being declared medically unfit to fight, Warren went guns blazing for Nick Kirk and secured a spot in the Season 9 bantamweight finals with a second-round submission.
“I felt like I was moving better,” Warren said afterward. “I felt like I was more in control.”
Control is not the word that would come to mind for the first round of Warren’s fight, which headlined Bellator 101 at Portland, Ore.’s Moda Center. Warren charged Kirk from the bell and took several punches coming in. But he also connected with several flying knees that presented a tough choice for Kirk – take the blow or wind up on his back.
In the second frame, Kirk didn’t have much of a choice. Warren secured an early takedown and quickly gained dominant position. But he showed a little bit of creative flair when he secured a reverse triangle and brought Kirk’s arm with him.
After a few tense moments of attempted escape, Kirk tapped out at the 3:03 mark of the second round.
Warren (9-3 MMA, 7-2 BMMA), who submitted additional medical tests to clear himself for Bellator 101 after being blocked from Bellator 98 earlier this month, now boasts back-to-back wins since losing his featherweight title, while Kirk (10-3 MMA, 0-3 BMMA) remains winless under the Bellator banner.
Sarnavskiy crushes Davis, Tirloni cruises past Clementi
Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy rolled into the tournament semifinals without breaking a sweat.
UFC vet Marcus Davis, who signed with the promotion at 40 years old in a last bid for champion gold, never had a chance to get into the fight against the almost undefeated Russian.
After a few initial skirmishes, Sarnavsky dropped Davis with a straight right hand and quickly set up for a rear-naked choke. He secured the position so well that Davis had little chance to escape the position.
After a few rolls, Sarnavsky opted for a bar-arm choke and forced Davis to tap at the 1:40 mark of the first round.
With the win, Sarnavsky (23-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) now enjoys three straight wins since his Bellator debut was spoiled with a split-decision loss to UFC vet Rich Clementi.
Since being released from the UFC, Davis (22-10 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) is 5-2 with one no contest, but his setback certainly could prompt more soul-searching about the length of his career.
Rich Clementi returned from a brief retirement to compete in Bellator’s Season 9 lightweight tournament, but he was bounced in the opening round by a gritty Ricardo Tirloni.
Clementi suffered a cut over his right eye very early in the opening round, but the longtime veteran simply wiped away the blood and smiled. Tirloni continued to target that side of his opponent’s face and peppered it with several crisp left hands. As blood continued to stream down Clementi’s face, he remained composed and even seemed to talk a little trash as he looked to counter.
The two continued to trade on the feet in the second. Tirloni held the center for most of the frame and landed with big hooks and uppercuts. Meanwhile, Clementi frequently kicked the legs and looked often to move into the clinch. However, his opponent refused to oblige.
Clementi continued to move well in the third, landing a spinning backfist to open the frame. But Tirloni (16-4 MMA, 3-3 BMMA) quickly scored a takedown and set up in top position. Clementi eventually escaped and looked to reverse the position but couldn’t take the fight to the floor. While Clementi (45-23-1 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) kept a confident demeanor throughout the three-round affair, he was whitewashed on the cards with one score of 30-26 and two of 30-27.
Brooks, Awad book semifinal matchup
Will Brooks looked like he was trying to channel a point-karate fighter in his opening round tourney bout opposite veteran John Alessio.
Brooks certainly had the kicking power of a striking specialist, and when he slammed a leg into Alessio’s body or legs, it made Alessio very anxious to take the fight to the mat.
Alessio, however, struggled to swing momentum on the mat. Two slips by Brooks in exposing his neck weren’t capitalized on, and eventually, he lost position.
Brooks had the advantage not only on the feet, but on the ground, where he took Alessio’s back in the second and held dominant position for much of the third. A sneaky knee badly cut Alessio’s face, adding visual evidence of his success.
Despite Alessio’s competence and skill in keeping in the fight, judges were generous for Brooks, awarding him scores of 30-26, 30-27 and, dubiously, 30-25.
Brooks (11-1 MMA 3-1 BMMA), who recently returned to the win column with a third-round TKO, moves on to meet the man who literally knocked him out of the Season 8 tournament, Saad Awad.
Alessio (34-17 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) remains winless in his past four outings, which includes an 0-2 stint in the UFC.
U.K. product Martin Stapleton had mere seconds in the Bellator lightweight tournament before he was forced into survival mode. A stiff combination from Saad Awad dropped him less than a minute into the round, and he pressed the action to the mat. Unfortunately for him, Awad was well-prepared for a ground fight and took his back. From there, Awad fought past Stapleton’s defense and secured a choke at the 3:46 mark of the first.
Awad (14-5 MMA, 2-2 BMMA), who returned to the winner’s circle after a loss to David Rickels in the Season 8 final, celebrated with a jump on the cage. From his perch, he thanked Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and yelled “America!”
Stapelton (12-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) gets a rude welcoming to the U.S., where he loses his first bout in four years and eight fights.
Coy outlasts Uhrich, Held and Vitkay pick up stoppage wins
After getting dropped with a punch in the first round, Nathan Coy went to his wrestling roots, or sort of. Rather than grind Andy Uhrich out, Coy preferred to take the fight to the mat and then snipe from overhead as his opponent looked for an upkick. On a few occasions, he landed a big shot. Uhrich (8-4 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), however, was never in much danger of being stopped. His knockdown earned him the first frame on judges’ scorecards, but Coy (12-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a Strikeforce vet and Northwest native, took home the decision with unanimous scores of 29-28.
Submission specialist Marcin Held didn’t need to take the fight to the ground against vet Ryan Healy(23-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA). With lightning-fast counters, he fought off the brother of UFC lightweight Pat Healy before sneaking in a right hand that earned a knockdown. A flurry of punches forced referee Dave Hagen to intervene at the 1:12 mark of the first round. Held (16-3 MMA, 5-2 BMMA), a two-time tourney vet who lost in the Season 7 finals to Dave Jansen, is now expected to qualify for the upcoming Season 10 lightweight tournament.
Dave Vitkay came out throwing heavy leather against Tyson Jeffries, but looked instead like he might be mat fodder for the Northwest native. Jeffries (10-8 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), though, struggled to control the fight in the second round, and after a scramble in the third, he allowed Vitkay (13-12 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) to take his back and sink a rear-naked choke at the 3:07 mark of the third and round.
Primus earns quick win, Springer and Aspenwal take decision nods
Brent Primus scrambled out of an armbar in the opening moments of his fight with Scott Thometz and quickly turned the tables on the mat. Advancing to back mount, Primus (3-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) diligently worked for a rear-naked choke until Thometz (6-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), whose nickname is “Tickle Fight,” had little choice but to tap. The official end came at the 3:48 mark of the first frame.
Although his striking dominance was apparent within the first minute of his fight, Austin Springer’s confidence nearly led to his demise on two occasions when the insanely tough Zach Skinner landed a right hand that dropped him. Except for the brief misstep, it was a one-sided beatdown for Springer (4-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who pretty much conducted batting practice on Skinner (7-10 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) for three rounds. Two judges ultimately awarded Skinner’s persistence, awarding him the first round, though Springer took home a unanimous decision by scores of 30-26 and 29-28 twice.
In the night’s opener, “The Ultimate Fighter 7” veteran Jeremiah Riggs lost the takedown battle, but won the ground and pound war as he finished the first two rounds on top, scoring with big punches after fighting off rear-naked choke attempts. Unfortunately, the exertion of the first 10 minutes drained him for the final five. A flurry in the final seconds of the fight wasn’t enough to sway judges, who awarded Aspenwal (3-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) a split decision with two scores of 29-28 with one judge dissenting for Riggs (7-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA), 29-28.
Complete Bellator 101 results includes:
MAIN CARD RESULTS
- Joe Warren def. Nick Kirk via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 3:03 – bantamweight tournament semifinals
- Alexander Sarnavskiy def. Marcus Davis via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:40 – lightweight tournament opening round
- Ricardo Tirloni def. Rich Clementi via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) – lightweight tournament opening round
- Will Brooks def. John Alessio via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-25) – lightweight tournament opening round
- Saad Awad def. Martin Stapleton via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:46 – lightweight tournament opening round
PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
- Nathan Coy def. Andy Uhrich via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-29)
- Marcin Held def. Ryan Healy via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:12
- Dave Vitkay def. Tyson Jeffries via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 3:07
- Brent Primus def. Scott Thometz via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:48
- Austin Springer def. Zach Skinner via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)
- Peter Aspenwal def. Jeremiah Riggs via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)