Bellator women’s flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez retained the belt in her maiden title defence at Bellator 262, but her result wasn’t without controversy.
Velasquez faced a spirited challenge from Bellator kickboxing world champion Denise Kielholtz in the main event in Uncasville, Connecticut. But did just enough to earn the nod from two of the three cageside judges at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night.
Kielholtz was on the front foot throughout the five-round title fight as she blitzed in and out with multi-punch combinations. But while the Dutchwoman’s work was certainly eye-catching to most, the judges were more convinced by the champion’s more methodical striking approach.
Velasquez worked her southpaw jab well and worked in her left hand on occasion as she repeatedly snapped back the head of the challenger, albeit without unduly troubling the challenger.
The punch stats at the end of the fight appeared to heavily favour the challenger, but two of the judges favoured Velasquez in the final reckoning as the champion retained her title via split decision with scores of 48-47, 47-48, 48-47.
“I think I would be clinching a bit more, her striking didn’t surprise me, but I felt that I did enough to retain the title,” Velasquez told Bellator after her victory, which was booed by the fans in attendance, who had felt that Kielholtz had done enough to claim the title.
“I beat her with my jab, if you look at her face, it’s messed up, if you look at mine, my face is fine.
“I think people in the audience favor her because she has a kickboxing style and I counter, but I think it was my boxing that was the difference tonight.”
“When I come in here, I don’t think of myself as a champion, I think of myself as someone who needs to earn the belt and tonight I felt that I did that.”
In the night’s co-main event heavyweight contender Tyrell Fortune claimed a first-round TKO finish of Matt Mitrione before calling for a fight with the only man to defeat him, Tim Johnson.
The fight featured an unfortunate clash of heads when Fortune shot in to take Mitrione to the mat. Despite Mitrione’s protestations, the action continued and Fortune pushed the pace and piled on the pressure to force the stoppage at the 1:45 mark as Mitrione tapped to strikes.
“I feel great coming out of the fight. He stepped forward so I went for the shot instead of throwing the punch and I guess I made contact with my head,” said Fortune after his win.
“Besides that I was running through him for the takedown. As you saw, I finished on top, and the fight went from there.
“I didn’t feel it (the clash of heads), I can only go off of what he was saying at the time. Like I said, I was just looking to get on top and continue to fight so I didn’t really know what else to do.
“I thought if there was a contact that the ref would have saw and we would have stopped that’s why I paused for a second on top of him. I didn’t go right to punching. Once the ref said to continue, I was continuing to fight.
“I want Tim Johnson. I don’t want a title shot. I’d rather have Tim Johnson first. That’s really the only fight I’ve been training for since that loss. To me, with him taking that loss (against Valentin Moldavsky) and me getting this win, it should line us right up.
“I’m gonna’ try to knock his ass out, just like he did me.”
Photo credit: Bellator MMA / Lucas Noonan