The chance to compete for $100,000 is something that only happens to a very small fraction of MMA fighters. Mike Richman has now earned that opportunity after his victory over Alexandre Bezerra during Thursday night’s Bellator 92 event.
Richman survived a borderline disastrous Round 1 which saw Bezerra, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, take his back with nearly three minutes left in the round. Richman stayed calm, though, and was able to make it out of trouble.
The striking abilities of the Minnesotan took over in Round 2 when Richman peppered “Popo” with punch after punch, bloodying the nose and evening the fight at one round a piece.
Round 3 would determine the winner, and what a back-and-forth round it was.
Richman started off strong again, out-striking Bezerra the same way he did in Round 2. But things took a sudden turn for the worst when Bezerra shot in and got another takedown. Bezerra took his back yet again and looked for the rear-naked choke over and over again.
Sensing the fight slipping away, Richman used every bit of strength and technique that he had in him to flip the positions, putting Bezerra on his back for the first time in the fight. With only about 1:15 left in the round, however, Richman knew he had to bring the fight back to the feet if he wanted to win the round. He did just that by standing up, forcing Bezerra to get back up with him.
An exhausted Bezerra looked for another takedown, but was unable to get Richman back to the mat. Richman unloaded once again, tagging Bezerra repeatedly before the round finally came to an end.
The split decision (29-28 Richman, 29-28 Bezerra, 29-28 Richman) told the story of this very close bout which pitted an excellent striker against an excellent grappler. On this night, the striker, Richman, did just enough to win and move on to the finals of the Bellator MMA featherweight tournament.
“[It was the] Biggest victory of my career,” Richman said in the post-fight interview in the cage on Spike TV. “He’s got a granite chin. I hit really hard and he took every shot of it.”
When asked about the other semifinal bout between Frodo Khasbulaev and Marlon Sandro, Richman couldn’t pick a winner, but did give a vote of respect for both men.
“I’m so excited to bang with either of them,” Richman said.
Richman will now relax for a couple days before getting back into the gym at The Academy where he will prepare for the next “biggest fight of his career” in the finals of the Bellator featherweight tournament.
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