Saunders and Lima advance to welterweight finals at Bellator 53

Photo by Keith Mills for Sherdog

After two exciting welterweight semifinal bouts at Bellator 53 last evening, Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima have now punched their tickets for the Bellator season five welterweight finals.

In the main event, in what many thought would be a stand up war between Ben Saunders and Luis Santos, it was the ground game of Ben Saunders that would dominate the bout. Saunders used his flexibility in employing a stifling rubberguard from his back that completely incapacitated the left arm of Santos in the first two rounds. Saunders threatened to end the fight on several occasions in the first round, switching from triangle attempts to a tight omoplata, that kept Santos on the defensive throughout the opening stanza.

The second round was near carbon copy of the first, but in the third, Saunders used a stuffed take down attempt from Santos to get top control and advance to a dominating position. Once there, Saunders isolated an arm and locked up a tight americana. Santos motioned to the referee that he was ok, but after a grip adjustment, the arm was extended badly and Santos was forced to tap.

In the other welterweight semifinal bout, Douglas Lima and Chris Lozano engaged in a bloody brawl through two rounds. While Lozano was landing the more looping punches, it was the crisp punching of Lima that would make the difference as the clock ticked toward the final round. As Lozano stepped into range midway through the second, Lima fired off a jab followed by a crunching right hand that rendered Lozano unconscious on impact.

The winner of what should be a bout filled with fireworks between Saunders and Lima will earn $100,000 and a shot at the Bellator welterweight title. Bellator 56 will determine who that opponent will be after the dust settles, when current champion Ben Askren meets top contender Jay Hieron who fight for the belt on October 29.

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