On Friday night at Bellator 150 at the Kansas Star Arena in Wichita, Kansas, heavyweight Cheick Kongo survived a late scare from Vinicius "Spartan" Queiroz to win a split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) in the main event.
After controlling the first two rounds with well-placed leg kicks, Kongo opened up in the third round. During an exchange, he ate a hard overhand right from the 6'7" Brazilian that put the 40-year-old Frenchman down.
Kongo has gained a reputation for his defensive prowess, but he also possesses excellent recuperation skills. Vinicius made the mistake of falling into Kongo's guard as he went for the finish. This allowed Kongo to hold on and regain his wherewithal.
He kept Spartan in the half-guard until the 20-second mark in the final round, when referee John McCarthy stood the two fighters up. By this time, Kongo had his legs underneath him, and Spartan's opportunity to pull out the win had passed.
Despite the knockdown, one judge felt Kongo won every round. Jason Floyd of The MMA Report thought that was absurd:
30-27 Kongo? WHAT— Jason Floyd (@Jason_Floyd) February 27, 2016
Originally, the Kongo vs. Spartan bout was supposed to be the co-main event ahead of a Bellator featherweight title fight between champion Marcos Galvao and former champion Eduardo Dantas.
However, Galvao fell ill, and the fight was called off, per MMA Weekly. Without that main event, the card felt dry, but that's MMA. At least the new co-main event delivered.
The Caveman Delights Hometown Crowd
David "Caveman" Rickels is not an elite fighter, but he does put on a show whenever he's on a Bellator card. On Friday night, his in-cage action matched his flamboyant cage walk. In the first round, Rickels used some nasty knees and ground-and-pound to destroy Bobby Cooper.
Rickels took some shots from Cooper that might have given him some trouble against better opponents, but in the end, the Caveman survived the scrap.
CompuStrike shared the lopsided striking numbers:
Rickels has consistently come up short against the elite lightweights in Bellator. Michael Chandler stopped him twice, and Patricky Freire finished him once. But if Rickels can grab another victory, he may be in position to face another elite 155-pounder.
- Rebecca Ruth def. Lena Ovchynnikova by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Chuka Willis def. Gaston Reyno by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Kendall Grove def. Francisco France by second-round knockout
- David Rickels def. Bobby Cooper by first-round knockout
- Cheick Kongo def. Vinicius "Spartan" Queiroz by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Ruth Overpowers Ovchynnikova
Renowned kickboxer Lena Ovchynnikova ran up against a challenge she couldn't overcome Friday night. Rebecca Ruth used her superior strength and wrestling to keep her opponent pinned to the mat or against the cage for most of the fight.
Her punches weren't doing tons of damage, but she was able to smother Ovchynnikova's attempts to use her striking skills. Ruth controlled positioning throughout the fight.
MMAFighting.com's Steve Juon was on point with his analysis of Ovchynnikova's game:
Again Ovchynnikova had lost 3 of her last 5 in MMA. Why exactly was Ruth the underdog? Ovchynnikova might be a kickboxing star but not here.— Steve Juon (@angrymarks) February 27, 2016
While she has the foundation to become a strong mixed martial artist, she's too one-dimensional at this point in her career. Perhaps she'll use this loss as a learning experience.
The Lion King Takes Down Reyno
Under the brightest spotlight in his career, 22-year-old Chuka "The Lion King" Willis dominated the second and third rounds to defeat previously undefeated Gaston Reyno via unanimous decision.
Willis' speed, grappling and poise were on full display. In the first round, he survived a tight guillotine attempt by Reyno. Willis looked to be in trouble at one point, but he was able to pop his head out of the hold. The failed attempt seemed to sap Reyno's energy.
In the second round, Willis used a hard right hand to deposit Reyno on the canvas. Willis couldn't get the finish, but he coasted to victory from that point. It's early in his career, but the arrow is pointing up for Willis.
Grove Destroys France
At 6'6", Kendall Grove owns a length advantage over nearly every opponent he faces. He's beginning to understand how to use that advantage.
He was patient against Francisco France through an uneventful first round but exploded in the second frame. He used his long arms to control France from a distance in the clinch. As he pushed France against the cage, Grove unleashed some bombs that knocked his opponent out cold.
The win was especially important for Grove. His brother died one month ago, per the Spike broadcast, but he appeared to use the hardship as motivation to deliver his second straight win via knockout.
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