Andre Tieva delivers a thunderous leg kick which helped lead to the doctor stopping the fight after two rounds of action. (Photo: Brian C. Olsen of FightGroup.net)
One of the top 135-pound prospects in Minnesota was up next, as Andre "The Diva" Tieva took center stage to battle Zach Kelso. Kelso's record leaves a bit to be desired, but takes nothing away from him as he's absolutely fearless.
The word is that the promoters had a tough time finding an opponent for Tieva who went undefeated in his amateur career and earned a very quick submission win in his professional debut earlier this year.
There was a long feeling out process in this one, as neither man seemed to be underestimating the power of the other’s hands.
Tieva shot in, but Kelso sidestepped with relative ease, allowing the fight to remain on the feet where he may have been the more powerful striker. Kelso did shoot in for a takedown of his own, pushing Tieva against the cage in the process. He looked like he was going to go for a throw, but Tieva pushed him onto his back.
Tieva looked for an armbar from the top, but Kelso was able to escape and got back to his feet. As he stood up, Tieva tagged Kelso with a punch. The punch seemed to rock Kelso a bit as he shot in for a takedown out of desperation, but Tieva took his back and began working for a rear-naked choke.
Tieva rained down big punches and Kelso was in trouble with over 1:30 still in the round. After taking some damage, Kelso nearly tossed Tieva off him in impressive fashion, but Tieva went for an armbar. Kelso landed some big shots while defending the submission and both fighters got to their feet after that scramble. When they got back up, Kelso tagged Tieva again and got a nice double-leg takedown to end the round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Tieva
This was a very close round after Kelso’s explosion of strikes and the takedown at the end of the round. It really could have gone either way, but given that Tieva controlled the majority of the action, I gave him the slight edge.
A big leg kick from Tieva really hurt Kelso and his lead left leg then became the target for the “Diva.” Tieva threw more leg kicks that connected and it began to look like this one might be ending soon.
Tieva got too confident, though, and Kelso smashed him with a punch him as he came in, nearly getting the knockout in the process!
Tieva was in trouble as he scrambled to get back up. Kelso kept the pressure on, but made a mistake, allowing Tieva to take his back again. With Kelso flattened out, Tieva hammered down with some punches to the side of the head. Kelso was eating quite a bit of damage from the bottom, but it wasn’t enough to get the finish as he covered up for most of them, at least breaking the impact of the punches a bit with his hands.
Kelso got back to his feet for a moment, but Tieva’s weight and momentum brought him right back down. Kelso finally broke free and swung for the fences when the fighters got back up, but Tieva brought him down yet again.
Tieva inflicted more ground-and-pound and took Kelso’s back once again. With the amount of punches being landed, Kelso was lucky that the referee didn’t opt to stop the fight in the second round.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Tieva (20-18 Tieva overall)
Both fighters looked dead-tired as they got back to their corners. Kelso could barely stand as the doctor got into the cage and called an end to the fight. Kelso simply could not continue, due to the damage he sustained from the leg kicks early in Round 2.
Official Result: Andre Tieva defeated Zach Kelso by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00 in Round 2
Triumphant but not satisfied, Tieva told the fans in attendance that he would be back and better than ever for his next fight.
“I’m not too happy with my performance. There’s a lot I can work on,” he said.
Still, at 2-0 as a professional, it must be nice for the "Diva" to know that he still has a long way to go before he even reaches his prime.