Logan Storley captured the interim Bellator welterweight title with a grinding display of wrestling to earn a split-decision victory over Michael “Venom” Page at Bellator 281 in London.
Storley’s relentless pursuit of the takedown through all five rounds of the main event at the OVO Arena proved enough to earn him the nod from two of the three cageside judges, who scored the fight 48-47, 47-48, 49-46 to the American.
MVP was his usual self, showing flashes of superb striking as he clipped Storley with eye-catching strikes that sent sweat flying off the American’s brow.
But in each of the five rounds, Storley was able to find his way to the takedown, as he forced the Londoner, at least partly, to the canvas.
Page did well to prevent Storley from launching any offense on the mat, with the American offering little in the way of damaging strikes, even when in a dominant position. For his part, Page managed to land occasional strikes from a defensive position, but they were of little significance, and weren’t damaging enough to help him out of Storley’s clutches.
Eventually, after five gruelling rounds, it was Storley whose hand was raised, setting up a rematch with the only man to defeat him, Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov, who edged their first bout via split decision at Bellator 252 in November 2020.
Edwards slays “The Dragon”
In the night’s co-main event, Fabian Edwards produced the best performance of his Bellator career to knock out former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida in the first round.
Machida was his usual elusive self as he looked to slide in and out of range while keeping Edwards on the outside.
But the Birmingham native had the Brazilian well scouted and, after taking some time assess the former UFC champ’s range, let his strikes go, and connected with spectacular effect.
Edwards stunned Machida with a punch that sent the Brazilian stumbling backward across the cage. The Englishman then followed up with more punches and elbows as he first dropped, then knocked out, Machida to score a stunning first-round finish.
𝑳𝒆𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒅 𝑲𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒂 💥@fabianedwards24 stops MMA veteran @lyotomachidafw at the @OVOArena.#Bellator281 LIVE on @SHOsports 🇺🇸 and @bbcthree 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/H6Ha0DfgAH
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 13, 2022
Watanabe submits “Miss Dynamite”
Japanese flyweight contender Kana Watanabe served notice of her championship aspirations with an impressive triangle choke finish of former title challenger Denise Kielholtz.
Bellator kickboxing champion Kielholtz was looking to bounce back and earn another shot at championship gold after narrowly losing out in her first title shot.
But it was Watanabe who advanced her stock as she claimed the second-round submission to put herself right in the frame for the title now held by Liz Carmouche.
𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝘼 𝙏𝙖𝙥 💥🇯🇵@kanawatanabe821 submits @Denisekielholtz to return to winning ways inside the Bellator cage.#Bellator281 LIVE on @SHOsports 🇺🇸, @bbcthree 🇬🇧 and @UNEXT_fight 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/gEctAqOFhD
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 13, 2022
Daley finishes his career in style
British knockout artist Paul “Semtex” Daley bowed out of competitive action with one of the most memorable knockouts of his career as he exploded on Wendell Giacomo in their 175-pound catchweight contest.
Giacomo proved to be a tricky test for Daley in the Brit’s final career appearance, and the Nottingham native was forced to defend as the Brazilian relentlessly pursued a submission after twice taking Daley to the canvas.
But, after fending off Giacomo’s back pressure for much of the second round, Daley escaped his opponent’s clutches, loaded up on his strikes and let his hands fly one more time to score a stunning knockout and send the Wembley Arena crowd into raptures.
It was Daley’s 35th career knockout, as he called time on a stellar career that saw him compete 64 times in professional MMA, and 88 times total across MMA and kickboxing.
The abiding memory of #Bellator281? It has to be Paul Daley's final fight, and boy did he find a memorable way to bring the curtain down on his 64-fight MMA career. Enjoy your retirement, @Semtex_170. pic.twitter.com/JfHWXOmRbE
— Simon Head (@simonhead) May 14, 2022
Biyong wins bloody battle with Trainer
In the opening main card bout of the night, Cameroonian light heavyweight Simon Biyong claimed a hard-earned unanimous decision over previously unbeaten English prospect Luke Trainer.
Trainer was initially taken down and held on the canvas by former EFC light heavyweight champ Biyong, but the Englishman fought his way back to his feet and turned the tables by executing a judo throw, then instantly taking his opponent’s back.
However, despite multiple attempts, Trainer wasn’t able to finish with a rear-naked choke as Biyong survived the round.
Biyong came out firing in Round 2, clipped Trainer early and followed him to the mat, before moving into mount and unloading a barrage of wild ground strikes.
Despite finding himself in a choke, a cut and bloodied-up Trainer briefly managed to reverse position, but Biyong got back on top before unloading more heavy shots from top position.
After two gruelling rounds, Round 3 saw the pace understandably slow, but Biyong held the upper hand in the clinch as he bossed the exchanges to earn scores of 29-27, 28-27, 29-28 from the cageside judges.
Bellator 281: Official Results
- Logan Storley def. Michael Page via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) – for interim welterweight title
- Fabian Edwards def. Lyoto Machida via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:18
- Kana Watanabe def. Denise Kielholtz via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:03
- Paul Daley def. Wendell Giacomo via knockout (punches) – Round 2,
- Simon Biyong def. Luke Trainer via unanimous decision (29-27, 28-27, 29-28)
- Daniel Weichel def. Rob Whiteford via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 1:12
- Elina Kallionidou def. Kate Jackson via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 4:53
- Oliver Enkamp def. Mark Lemminger via submission (buggy choke) – Round 3, 0:25
- Tim Wilde vs. Alfie Davis judged a majority draw (29-27 Davis, 28-28, 28-28)
- Andrew Fisher def. Attila Korkmaz via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Charlie Ward def. Alan Carlos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
- Maciej Razanski def. Lee Chadwick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chiara Penco def. Lanchana Green via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)