Fabian Edwards booked himself a September date with Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen after claiming a dominant victory over Dutch MMA legend and former Bellator champ Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 296 in Paris, France.
Edwards produced the most complete, composed performance of his career to cleanly defeat Mousasi on the scorecards after five rounds at the Accor Arena to earn himself a shot at reigning Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen, who watched the action unfold from cageside.
Edwards’ striking was crisp and on point throughout, as he used feints and a smartly-deployed selection of leg kicks to open up opportunities for sharp, straight punches as he consistently gave Mousasi problems throughout the five-round main event bout.
But, in addition to his striking, Edwards also showed a glimpse of his rarely-seen wrestling and grappling as he turned to his mat skills late in the fight to both escape Mousasi’s few attempts at offense on the mat, and also to put the former champion on the back foot.
After five rounds the three cageside judges all scored the bout the same, as Edwards earned the unanimous decision win with scores of 49-46 across the board.
It meant Edwards had earned a shot at Eblen’s middleweight title, and the pair had a testy face-off in the cage as it was officially announced that they would fight for the 185-pound title in the main event in Dublin on September 23.
Primus outbattles Barnaoui in five-round war
Former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus produced an incredible performance over five grueling rounds to claim a unanimous decision victory over French fan-favorite Mansour Barnaoui.
The pair battled back and forth over the first four rounds, as the momentum swung back and forth between the pair. Initially, it was Barnaoui who came flying out of the gate in Round 1, only for Primus to take matters to the mat and dominate with his grappling, positional control and a tight arm-triangle choke attempt in Round 2.
The third frame saw Barnaoui come storming back once again, but, in a repeat of the second stanza, Primus was able to get things to the canvas and threaten with more submission attempts in Round 4.
It meant the victory hinged on the final round and, after luring Barnaoui into a stand-up exchange, Primus took advantage of an opening and took the Frenchman to the mat.
Once there, he established a dominant position again and, despite appearing to have a tight rear-naked choke locked in, he was unable to put Barnaoui away as the bout went all the way the judges’ scorecards.
All three scorers saw the fight 48-47 in Primus’ favor, as the former champion punched his ticket to the semi-finals of the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix, where he’ll challenge reigning 155-pound champion Usman Nurmagomedov for the title, and a spot in the $1 million tournament final.
Lima bounces back… at middleweight
Former three-time welterweight champion Douglas Lima had seen his career momentum hit the buffers after the four consecutive defeats. But “The Phenom” appears to have a new lease of life after moving up to middleweight.
Lima outpointed Dutch contender Costello van Steenis over three hard-fought rounds in one of his best displays in years to immediately announce himself as a legitimate threat to the division’s best at 185 pounds.
Just as we’ve seen from Lima in his welterweight peak, leg kicks played a major part in his victory as he repeatedly hammered low kicks into the calf of van Steenis’ lead left leg. As the fight wore on he began to find a home for his hands, too, as the Brazilian held the striking advantage.
Van Steenis, meanwhile, enjoyed his best success when he closed the distance and changed levels for takedowns. However, once he got Lima to the mat, the Dutchman struggled to do anything significant with the position and Lima worked his way back up on each occasion.
Eventually, after the three-round bout went the distance, the judges all scored the bout 29-28 to Lima, who snapped a four-fight skid and claimed his first victory since October 2019.
Gouti takes the roof off with huge KO
French lightweight Thibault Gouti kicked off the main card in spectacular fashion with a highlight-reel knockout of England’s Kane Mousah.
Gouti started strongly, but as the opening round wore on, Mousah appeared to be gaining the upper hand. And, in the second round, the Manchester man was pushing the pace on the local favorite when Gouti turned the tables in stunning fashion with a huge left hand that sent the Brit down to the mat for a big KO.
After his spectacular win, Gouti thanked the Paris crowd for helping inspire him to victory, before respectfully calling for a bout with another Englishman, Tim Wilde, who had picked up an impressive victory of his own earlier in the evening against Chris Gonzalez.
Bellator 296: Official results
- Fabian Edwards def. Gegard Mousasi via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
- Brent Primus def. Mansour Barnaoui via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
- Douglas Lima def. Costello van Steenis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Thibault Gouti def. Kane Mousah via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 3:58
- Denise Kielholtz def. Paula Cristina (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Luca Poclit def. Oliver Enkamp via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Saul Rogers vs. Davy Gallon ruled a no contest – fight stopped in Round 1, 2:12
- Yves Landu def. Piotr Niedzielski via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Sarvarjon Khamidov def. Kevin Petshi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 1:33
- Tim Wilde def. Chris Gonzalez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Fabacary Diatta def. Keir Harvie via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Assael Adjoudj def. Georges Sasu via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
- Romain Debienne def. Bourama Camara via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 1:04
- Jose Augusto def. Simon Biyong via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA