Fortysomething heavyweights Cheick Kongo and Sergei Kharitonov went toe to toe in the main event of Bellator 265 and served up a surprise hit, with the two veteran campaigners delivering a barnburner of a fight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
It looked like 41-year-old Kharitonov was on his way to a one-sided win after he started by far the better of the two.
But, despite the Russian dominating almost the entirety of Round 1, 46-year-old Kongo came alive in Round 2 to score a thrilling come-from-behind victory as he forced Kharitonov to tap in the final second of the second round.
The co-main event saw Logan Storley return to the win column following his first career defeat. But, despite a successful return to the Bellator cage, the South Dakota native was far from impressed with his own display as he claimed a split-decision win over debutant Dante Schiro.
Marcelo Golm had a happier Bellator debut as he defeated short-notice opponent Billy Swanson via first-round TKO.
But perhaps the most impressive performer on the night was number-six-ranked bantamweight Jornel Lugo, who improved his perfect professional record to 7-0 with a buzzer-beating first-round rear-naked choke submission of Keith Lee in the main card opener.
Bellator 265: Main card results
- Cheick Kongo def. Sergei Kharitonov via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:59
- Logan Storley def. Dante Schiro via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Marcelo Golm def. Billy Swanson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:57
- Jornel Lugo def. Keith Lee via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 5:00
[Photo credit: Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA]