It was another night of success for Bellator Fighting Championships as the welterweight tournament began the promotion’s fifth season. The action took place at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, New Jersey as eight welterweights stepped into the Bellator cage but only four would continue on to the semi-final rounds. Opening the tournament was Bellator veteran and former US Army member Steve Carl (14-3) and former MFC Welterweight Champion “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (17-4). The return of fan favorite “The Handler” Dan Hornbuckle (18-5) was soured by the strength of “Sapo” Luis Santos (48-6). UFC veteran and American Top Team stand-out “Killa B” Ben Saunders (11-3) did what he does best and laid down a beating against Chris Cisneros (11-5). In the main event “The Cleveland Assassin” Chris Lozano (9-1) and Brent Weedman (18-7) gave the fans what they wanted for three rounds, a hard fought war.
Steve Carl vs. Douglas Lima: It was the debut of former MFC champion Douglas Lima as he took on the seemingly unbreakable Steve Carl. The latter started off strong and rocked Lima within the opening minute of the first round and capitalized on the chance to take the fight to the mat. As Lima regained his wits and his legs, he fought to get back in the fight but Carl kept the pressure on to keep his opponent off balance. The first stanza was all Carl as he controlled the action and pace of the bout, however, when Lima came out for the second round it was a different story. The MFC champ came out and used his striking to set up takedowns and throw Carl on his back. From there he used his superior grappling and strength to control the fight. Carl didn’t sleep once he was on his back – he kept on the offensive with submission attempts, but Lima still was dominant. The third frame played out in the same fashion as the second but Carl was more active. He knew he needed to win the round in order to earn a chance at a decision victory. Lima’s striking and grappling was still too much for Carl to overcome and once the fight hit the mat again it was all Lima controlling the fight and earning the judges’ approval. Carl made one last attempt to steal a victory when he was able to secure top position in the closing seconds of the fight but it wasn’t enough to sway the judges. Lima via Unanimous Decision
Dan Hornbuckle vs. Luis Santos: It was a back-against-the-wall fight for Dan Hornbuckle and a time-to-shine fight for Luis Santos. After three rounds of fighting it was all Santos as he used his bullying pressure and strong Muay Thai to pick Hornbuckle apart for the entire 15 minutes. The most effective weapon for Santos was the leg kick, as the snapping power it landed on Hornbuckle’s lead leg began to slow down “The Handler” early and greatly affect his pace. Hornbuckle fought hard to make it a competitive match as he shot for takedown after takedown only to have them stopped. The fight did go to the mat, but it was at Santos’ choosing. Santos controlled Hornbuckle on the ground for a time then returned to his feet to continue the onslaught of strikes. For the first two rounds, Hornbuckle seemed to be slow and couldn’t commit to a game plan that could give Santos a hard time, but in the third round Hornbuckle seemed to wake up. He came forward and tried to make the best of what he was given and it wasn’t much. Santos still was in control of the fight and used superior defensive movements to avoid the offense of Hornbuckle while at the same time landing shots of his own. In the closing seconds of the third round, Santos rocked Hornbuckle with a kick and got him into a corner and wore on the Bellator veteran for the remaining seconds to over sell the fact that this fight was his and his alone. Luis Santos earned a one-sided decision over the Brazilian and made a clear statement that he’s a serious threat to anyone left in the tournament. Santos via Unanimous Decision
Ben Saunders vs. Chris Cisneros: Ben Saunders showed once again that he is a lethal force inside the cage as he took on Chris Cisneros in the third match-up of the night. Cisneros was a bit slow at the beginning as Saunders came forward with his trademark aggressive style. “Killa B” beat up Cisneros with strikes before taking the fight to the mat. The ground is not Saunders’ arena of choice but he controlled the action and made smart decisions as he continued to work his offense even without his “favorite weapon”, elbows. Cisneros proved alive and well as he turned the tides on Saunders and gained the upper hand and top position for a short time before Saunders returned and fought his way back to the top. A back-and-forth battle on the ground ended by the bell and a Triangle attempt by Saunders closed the first. The second round went much like the first as the fight returned to the ground by Saunders’ hands, but this time Cisneros had nothing to offer. Saunders was beating up Cisneros on the feet and on the mat with ground-and-pound. Cisneros fought back to the best of his abilities to stay alive and in the fight with several failed submission attempts and sweeps. The third round didn’t even make it to the 30 second mark, as Saunders came out and locked on his trademark double collar tie clinch and unleashed a barrage of knees, sending Cisneros to the mat, and the referee stopped the fight. Saunders is now 2-0 inside Bellator with two crowd approved fights. Saunders via TKO (Knees), Round 3
Chris Lozano vs. Brent Weedman: Every war begins with a single gunshot and that one shot was landed by Weedman as he send Lozano to the mat early in the first. Lozano fought back to gain his feet but Weedman took the fight to the ground with a slam and the war was on. Lozano fought back to gain an even playing field as the two welterweights went at it in the main event to determine who would be a part of the final four. Weedman took control of the first round with speed and attacking from angles, while Lozano seemed to have a hard time getting into the groove due to being off-balance from Weedman’s pressure. However, in the second round, it was Lozano was came out with the bad intentions. “The Cleveland Assassin” unloaded his heavy hands and battered Weedman from bell to bell. Weedman fought back and stayed true to his warrior spirit, but Lozano was landing the more telling blows. For two solid rounds Lozano never looked back and aimed to send his foe to the mat in a daze but Weedman took every punch with a grain of salt and pushed on to fight harder. The third round saw Lozano and Weedman hit the mat and it was Lozano who controlled the action from the top. Showing his ever-improving ground game, Lozano got out of tight spots from Weedman’s attempts to turn the tides in his favor. The fight ended how it started – on the feet and with both men going for broke. Lozano threw everything he had against Weedman to earn the judges’ nod with all three scorecards at 29-28. Weedman didn’t go out without a fight and earned the thanks of Lozano, the crowd, and the Bellator brass. Lozano via Unanimous Decision
For the full list of Bellator 49 results, click here.