Bellator 115 went down in Reno, Nevada Friday night from the Reno Events Center, featuring a full card of fights, culminating in a heavyweight title fight where the champion, Vitaly Minakov, successfully defended the strap against former UFC vet, Cheick Kongo, in a five-round marathon. This marks the first title defense for Minakov, who remains undefeated with 14 professional wins.
It was a tough night for Kongo. The long-time MMA veteran was left still seeking his first title in a major promotion. Beyond that, the Frenchman suffered several shots to the groin, which stopped the action multiple times and cost Minakov a point in the first round. Kongo now falls to 20-9-2, and is 2-1 in Bellator after being released by the UFC last Spring, his future uncertain.
Minakov cruised to victory, winning on all three scorecards by a tally of 49-46 after losing a point for illegal blows and just one round to Kongo. The fight was hardly entertaining though, as each fighter was gassed after the third and the match got sloppy with ineffective wrestling and groundwork. When standing up, Kongo displayed his classic wobbly legs and only managed to deliver a half dozen power shots throughout 25 minutes of action. Minakov too looked less than stellar, but there was no question he won to remain champion.
The rest of the card mostly mirrored the main event, as many of the fights were lackluster. The co-main event at Bellator 115 was a welterweight tilt between two relative unknowns in Herman Terrado and Justin Baesman. Terrado pushed the pace in the first round, but became a zombie in the second, finding himself completely out of energy, with Baesman sitting on top of him, raining down elbows in a round that many scored 10-8. The fight seemed all but over, but the referee did not step in and the horn sounded to save Terrado, who was very slow to get to his corner after. Baesman looked like he was going to either knock Terrado out in the third or cruise to a decision, but instead he let Terrado throw slow, looping hooks at him and even found himself in a dangerous arm bar that he had to miraculously scramble out of as he displayed his own stamina issues. The fight appropriately ended in a majority draw as each man looked too inept to finish.
There were two other fights on the main card. One went to decision too, as Mikkel Parlo out-wrestled Johnny Cisneros in a middleweight bout that was underwhelming. Parlo controlled the fight until the end to redeem himself after being knocked out by Brennan Ward in the middleweight tournament last November. The other fight was a light heavyweight battle between the undefeated Volkan Oezdemir and Kelly Anundson. Anundson displayed amazing wrestling technique, regularly sending Oezdemir to the mat with powerful take downs again and again. Anundson eventually scored the submission in round two with a crossface crank, which was the only finish displayed on Spike TV.
The preliminary card was a bit more exciting, but not much. There were two split decisions with Rudy Morales beating Jimmy Jones in a lightweight fight and Rick Reeves downing James Terry in a welterweight contest. There were also two unanimous decisions, as heavyweight Freddie Aquitania defeated Josh Appelt and flyweight Benito Lopez bested Oscar Ramirez. The only other finish result of the full card came when 21-year-old Sinjen Smith won his Bellator debut against Jason Powell with a nice arm bar submission.
Commentary By Matt Stinson
Join Matt on Twitter @Matt_Stinson