Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi served up another virtuoso performance as he demolished the previously-undefeated Austin Vanderford to retain his 185-pound title at Bellator 275.
After walking to the cage to Neil Diamond’s singalong classic, “Sweet Caroline,” Mousasi produced one of the best performances of his recent career as he calmly dispatched Vanderford in just 85 seconds to underline his dominance of the division.
Vanderford came out aggressively as he looked to put Mousasi on his heels early, but the Dutchman happily welcomed the American’s advances with some sharp, accurate strikes as he quickly found his range on the challenger’s chin.
And, after stunning Vanderford with a counter, Mousasi moved in, stuffed a desperation takedown attempt, then finished his man with vicious ground strikes to notch his 49th career victory.
— Bellator Europe (@Bellator_Europe) February 25, 2022
“I was taking my time. I knew I hurt him,” he said after his victory.
“But I’m the best middleweight. I never said that because I never believed it. But from now on, you better believe it!”
And when asked who he thinks deserves the next shot, the Dutchman shrugged in typical Mousasi fashion.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I’m good. I’m confident. I’m at my best ever, physically. I’m telling you, I’m the best, and they’re going to know from now. I’ve never been so confident in my life.”
🗣️ "I'm the best middleweight"
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 25, 2022
Kavanagh fights through the pain to earn second title shot
Sinead Kavanagh showed guts and tenacity in abundance as she defeated friend and fellow featherweight contender Leah McCourt after a grueling back and forth co-main event battle.
Kavanagh sustained an injury to her left knee early on, which forced her to abandon her striking-first approach and engage in a grapple-heavy battle with McCourt, whose advantages were thought to be on the mat.
But, despite carrying an injury through the whole fight, Kavanagh dominated Round 1 and came very close to submitting McCourt with a Kimura that the Northern Irish contender did a remarkable job to survive.
Round 2 saw Kavanagh edge the action again, but in Round 3, with her knee finally letting her down, Kavanagh was forced to fend off a final-round surge from McCourt as the bout went to the judges’ scorecards.
When the scores were totalled, it was Kavanagh who took the win with scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 before Bellator president confirmed that the Irish fighter had done enough to earn a second shot at the featherweight title, and a potential rematch with reigning champion Cris Cyborg.
Clarke benefits from Tounkara injury
Ciaran Clarke’s anticipated main card showcase ended up earlier than expected – and not in the way he would have liked – but the Irishman claimed the victory nonetheless.
His opponent, Abou Tounkara, actually had the better of the opening round. But after Clarke managed to calmly escape his opponent’s Kimura attempt, it looked like the momentum shifted. Then, at the end of the round, the Frenchman returned to the corner with what looked like a dislocated shoulder.
The bout was halted with both men on their respective stools, as Clarke improved his record to 5-0.
Lugo stays unbeaten
The main card opener saw undefeated American Jornel Lugo prove a little too elusive for Ireland’s Brian Moore as he edged a unanimous decision to improve his record to 8-0.
Lugo worked well behind an effective jab, but when he abandoned that technique, Moore was able to step into range and let fly with his heavy punches.
But, despite Moore being the more aggressive fighter, it was Lugo who scored more effectively throughout the bout to earn scores of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 from the three cageside judges.
The night also saw another impressive display from young Dagestani prospect Khasan Magomedsharipov, who dominated Spain’s Jose Sanchez while, earlier in the night, Wales’ Brett Johns delivered a dominant performance to hand Tajikistan’s Khurshed Kakhorov his first career defeat with a one-sided mauling that ended in a third-round TKO finish.
Bellator 275: Official Results
- Gegard Mousasi def. Austin Vanderford via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:25 (for middleweight title)
- Sinead Kavanagh def. Leah McCourt via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Ciaran Clarke def. Abou Tounkara via injury (dislocated shoulder) – Round 1, 5:00
- Khasan Magomedsharipov def. Jose Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jornel Lugo def. Brian Moore via unanimous decision (30-27 29-28, 29-28)
- Brett Johns def. Khurshed Kakhorov via TKO (punches) Round 3, 3:00
- Davy Gallon def. Charlie Leary via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:01
- Stephanie Page def. Danni McCormack via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:40
- Darragh Kelly def. Junior Morgan via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:47
- Vladimir Tokov def. Daniele Scatizzi via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Gokhan Saricam def. Kirill Sidelnikov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Nathan Kelly def. Scott Pedersen via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lee Hammond def. Jamie Hay via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 1, 3:32