Bellator 65 saw the crowning of a new bantamweight champion as Eduardo Dantas submitted Zach Makovsky in the second round of their main event match in Atlantic City, while Daniel Straus outpointed Mike Corey in a grueling slugfest to move to the featherweight tournament finals against Marlon Sandro.
From the beginning Dantas used his size advantage and striking to pick apart Makovsky with a variety of kicks to the body and head. Makovsky did manage to get one takedown in round one, but Dantas’s strong and active Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game neutralize most of the former champion’s ground work.
Although Makovsky got Dantas to the mat in round two, it turned out to be his downfall. Dantas quickly reversed the position during the scramble and passed to the mount.
Makovsky tried to roll and escape, but that allowed Dantas to take his back and look for the rear naked choke. That choke attempt ultimately turned into an arm triangle as Makovsky turned to his side, and Dantas had the choke in tight enough to put Makovsky to sleep before he had the change to tapout.
“I don’t think it was my best performance, but I think he obviously had a lot to do with that,” Makovsky said at the post-fight press conference. “I felt like I couldn’t get close with any strikes, and that wouldn’t lead me into being able to set up any more of my takedowns.”
Daniel Straus vs. Marlon Sandro next month in Atlantic City for Season 6 Featherweight Tournament Championship
In the co-main event, Straus overcame the recent tragic loss of a close teammate, Christopher Smith, to reach the finals of a Bellator tournament for the second time.
It was a gritty affair, with both fighters going toe-to-toe in the middle of the cage and attempting to use their clinch game to control the tempo. Although Corey had his moments, Straus’s boxing and quickness proved to be the difference, as evidenced by Corey’s facial swelling and cuts after the bout.
Asked by ProMMAnow.com about the striking aspect of the match, Corey replied, “I trained a lot for fighting a southpaw. His speed and his reach kind of screwed with me. My goal was to keep it close and stay in the pocket.”
Corey added, “Going into that third I thought it was close. I had two choices: do I either work hard for this takedown, or stay in the pocket and try to throw? I chose the latter.”
Meanwhile, Straus talked about overcoming the loss of a friend to focus on the task at hand and defeating Corey.
“We don’t like to have [these things] happen,” Straus said. “But it’s what makes us who we are. I’m either going to fall off, or I’m going to keep going. I’d be damned if I’d fall off. He wouldn’t want that. I wouldn’t want that. My team wouldn’t want that.”
At the press conference, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed that Straus will take on Sandro at an upcoming show next month in Atlantic City.
Nogueira, Galvao advance to bantamweight tournament semi-finals
Also on the Bellator 65 main card, Marcos Galvao defeated Ed West by unanimous decision while Luis Nogueira earned a split nod over Alexis Vila, giving Galvao and Nogueira spots in the 135-pound tournament semi-finals.
West had some success on the feet with his unorthodox striking, but Galvao slowed him down just enough to land some of his powershots on the feet and get the fight to the mat, where the decorated grappler avoided West’s guillotine attempts and scored with ground-and-pound shots.
Galvao came up on the unlucky end of two iffy decisions in his previous Bellator appearances and felt relieved to get the win, particularly with his mother passing away last month.
“I had this chip on my shoulder and had to get the win for her,” Galvao said.
West was congratulatory of Galvao when speaking with the media.
“Total props to Marcos,” West said. “I’ve always said that he’s one of the most underrated fighters” in the division.
In another close fight, Nogueira edged out Vila via split decision. The two fighters appeared to each win one of the first two rounds. The decisive third saw a much slower pace, with Nogueira landing a couple of clean punches that likely made the difference.
Vila acknowledged Nogueira’s performance but felt shortchagned by the judges.
“I’m really disappointed with my fight today,” Vila said. “I was thinking that it was my decision, but this is what happens in MMA when you leave it to” the judges.