Featherweight firepower lit up the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario last night with both tournament semi-finals of the stacked Summer Series 145lbs. bracket. Former Bellator lightweight title challenger Pat Curran (14-4) took on British top featherweight “Kid Ninja” Ronnie Mann (20-3) in the main event supported by the action packed co-main event between former Sengoku Featherweight Champion “Monster of Rio” Marlon Sandro (19-2) and young gun Jiu-Jitsu fighter “Naza” Nazareno Malegarie (18-2). Along side the semi-finals were two feature fights in the heavyweight and lightweight divisions. WEC and IFL veteran and London, Ontario’s own “The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (18-3) took on “The So Cal Kid” Chris Saunders (9-2). Beginning the main card on MTV2 was returning heavyweight striker “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-3) against the high octane finisher Zak Jensen (10-7).
Neil Grove vs. Zak Jensen: Neil Grove stated before the fight that he had found a new fire in his fighting spirit. Grove, now 40, entered the Bellator cage for the first time since his loss to current heavyweight champion Cole Konrad (7-0). His opponent, 28-year-old Zak Jensen, has been out of the first round only once in his career. The towering heavyweights began the first round with no touch of gloves, but punches. Both threw heavy shots but it was Jensen that landed first, clipping the chin of Grove and dropping him down to his knees. Jensen went for the ground-and-pound but Grove wasn’t finished and latched onto a leg and dragged Jensen down to the mat. Grove launched into payback mode as he muscled through the guard of Jensen, but surprisingly dropped back for a Leg Lock. However, he just couldn’t seem to finish it. With their free hands, both men exchanged punches – Grove’s punches aimed to Jensen’s face while Jensen is hitting the ribs of Grove. The crowd went crazy at the thrill of the fight as Grove released the submission attempt and got back into full guard. Jensen was staying active but, with fire in his eyes, Grove broke through the guard of Jensen and dropped bombs on Jensen’s globe. The opening bout of Bellator 47′s main card was an all out brawl that produced more whiplash than a Metallica concert. Seeing that Jensen has absorbed more than his share of punishment, the referee puts a stop to the fight less than halfway through the opening round. Grove via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 2:00
Chris Horodecki vs. Chris Saunders: Hometown boy Chris Horodecki stepped into the Bellator cage toting a lot of emotion due to the death of a close friend the previous week, stating before the fight that facing off with Chris Saunders would provide his relief to all that emotion from the loss of his friend. Unfortunately for Saunders, he turned out to be the receptacle for all the bottled emotion. For three rounds Horodecki battled Saunders to earn a clear cut decision from all three judges. Horodecki’s advantage was the ground game; he used his experienced wrestling to take down Saunders at will and stay in a comfortable yet dominant position. Still Saunders never gave up in the fight as he stayed active on the bottom and got back to his feet several times. The striking game was almost even with just a slight edge going to Horodecki as the fight wore into deeper waters, however Saunders proved the better man on the feet in the opening minutes. Saunders used range-finding kicks with his punches to keep Horodecki at bay, but once Horodecki got in he would bring Saunders down to the mat with ease. For 15 minutes Horodecki made a statement that would echo to the ears of the Zuffa brass, “Miss me yet?” Horodecki via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Marlon Sandro vs. Nazareno Malegarie: Although only one fighter could earn the victory, both Marlon Sandro and Nazareno Malegarie won not only the respect of each other, but the entire crowd. The striking of the “Monster of Rio” was the story of the fight, but there are two sides to every story – the other in this case being the heart and will of Malegarie to stand and trade with the heavy-handed striker. Sandro controlled the action with his sharp striking and stalking footwork but Malegarie was a bit timid for the first round while fighting the experienced former champion. However, that progressively changed as the second round started and Malegarie started to come forward. He was letting it all out – win or lose, he was there to fight. Sandro saluted him by giving him a striking bout and the two traded punches like trading cards. Sandro had the upper hand and was landing more strikes than Malegarie, who winged punches giving Sandro the chance to duck away and answer back with a right hook or straight. By the third round, the crowd cheered the warriors as the men touched gloves for the final time that night. Malegarie still pushed forward but Sandro was coming forward too; one would break the other. Malegarie never quit and he kept trying to come back and earn any advantage he could, but Sandro’s crisper strikes gave him the edge in winning the final round as his counter-striking proved too much for “Naza”. In the final ten seconds, both men let it all out in the cage with a wild brawl. The closing bell rang and the referee separated the competitors who were welcomed with an abundance of cheers from the crowd. Both Sandro and Malegarie showed what the appeal of Bellator Fighting Championships has been since its inception: true warriors fighting for pride and recognition. Sandro earned the judges’ Unanimous Decision thus earned the first of two spots in the featherweight tournament finals, though Malegarie certainly did his career no damage with his own impressive performance. Sandro via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Pat Curran vs. Ronnie Mann: In perhaps the most evenly matched bout of the night, it was the former underdog turned juggernaut Pat Curran that shined once again. Curran used his reach advantage to keep Mann on the outside and his clean striking combos to do damage in all the right places. Mann had his moments where he landed some heavy shots on the bigger Curran, but it was not enough to close the gap on points. Curran used Mann’s slow start against him and as the fight advanced into the late second and third rounds, Mann began to show signs of gassing. His hands were hanging low at his hips, brought up only to defend strikes and to fire a combo or two. Mann’s only upper hand was the leg kicks that continued to go unchecked by Curran. To polish the medal of Curran for a brighter shine, the striking game was not the only advantage he had. When the action went to the mat during the closing moments of all three rounds, Curran dominated Mann with his outstanding wrestling. Mann went for several last moment submissions, but Curran shrugged them off with ease until the final bell. Now Curran will meet former Sengoku champion Marlon Sandro in the tournament finals next month with the winner earning a big payday and a shot at the title. Curran via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Click here for the full list of Bellator 47 results.