Alexander Shlemenko won his 50th pro MMA bout Friday night with a sudden second-round submission defeat of Brennan Ward to retain his Bellator middleweight title.
A hotly contested first round saw the two men exchange several powerful strikes. Ward landed a couple of takedowns and even tried a few submissions of his own, though he relied more on brute force than technique in their application. Still, it is possible the hyperaggressive Ward took the first round on points in the eyes of some judges and observers.
Early in the second, Ward momentarily left his neck vulnerable, and the veteran Shlemenko capitalized with a lightning-fast guillotine choke. Ward tapped out in a matter of seconds, and the bout was over.
Shlemenko advanced to 50-7 as a pro; Ward drops to 9-2.
Though the main event was a good one, the highlight of the main card may have been Brett Cooper's stirring victory over Kendall Grove.
In one of the season's middleweight tournament semifinal matches, the ultra-rangy Grove put Cooper in hot water with a first-round grappling clinic. It nearly saw him submit Cooper several times before finishing with ground-and-pound that might have brought down the curtain if the bell had sounded a few seconds later.
In the second stanza, Cooper placed a right hook perfectly on Grove's jawline. The UFC veteran fell to the canvas, and Cooper swarmed. Referee John McCarthy gave Grove every opportunity to gather himself, but Grove couldn't do so and eventually lost consciousness to seal the comeback win for Cooper.
Also on the main card, four featherweights competed in two tournament semifinal bouts. Desmond Green took a slow-paced—but convincing—decision over Will Martinez, and Daniel Weichel defeated Matt Bessette, also by decision. Green will face Weichel on May 2 for the tournament title and the right to face featherweight champ Pat Curran.
Full Card Results
Alexander Shlemenko def. Brennan Ward by submission (guillotine choke), 1:22, Round 2
Daniel Weichel def. Matt Bessette by unanimous decision
Desmond Green def. Will Martinez by unanimous decision
Brett Cooper def. Kendall Grove by KO, 3:33, Round 2
Justin Wilcox def. Jason Fisher by unanimous decision
Bubba Jenkins def. Sean Powers by unanimous decision
Linton Vassell def. Trevor Carlson by submission (rear-naked choke), 1:54, Round 2
Gavin Sterritt def. Mike Estus by submission (guillotine choke), 3:29, Round 1
Joe Rodriguez def. Eric Wahlin by submission (arm-triangle choke), 2:06, Round 2