Bellator's First Trip To Canada Proves Highly Entertaining
By MATT MOLGAARD
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer
Bellator Fighting Championships’ first trip to Canada proved to be highly successful, producing a series of excellent (and technically impressive) match-ups. On showcase for the evening were the featherweight semifinals, the promotional debut of Chris Horodecki (18-3) and an intriguing heavyweight clash between former “The Ultimate Fighter” competitor Zak Jensen (10-7) and heavy handed Bellator veteran, Neil Grove (11-3-1).
The big boys kicked the evening off with a bang, as Jensen opened the evening’s heavyweight tilt with a staggering left hand that dropped Neil Grove to the canvas, briefly stunning the 6’6” Englishman. Grove however, recovered quickly and soon turned the tides on Jensen. A failed heel hook from Grove led to an entertaining series of punches from both men. The tide would eventually shift in full favor of Grove, who took top control and unleashed a flurry of punches that prompted a referee stoppage just two minutes into the bout.
The early opener provided enough time to squeeze in one of the events undercard bouts, which saw Alexandre Bezerra (10-1) meet Jesse Gross (6-2) in a 152 pound catchweight clash. Things moved quickly, as Bezerra had his way with Gross, securing a takedown, taking Gross’ back, and locking in a rear-naked choke that put Gross to sleep in under 90 seconds.
IFL and WEC veteran Chris Horodecki was afforded the chance to fight on his home turf, and he made the best of the opportunity. For three rounds “The Polish Hammer” controlled American challenger, Chris Saunders. Horodecki displayed heavily improved striking defense, and negating virtually every attack Saunders launched. Chris utilized takedowns and top control to chip away at Saunders, racking up big points en route to a decisive 30-27 unanimous decision victory.
In the evening’s first featherweight semifinal bout, Nazareno Malegarie (20-2) collided with our number nine ranked featherweight, Marlon Sandro (19-2). Malegarie appeared uncomfortable in the fights opening frame, with stiff movement and delayed responses that saw the Brazilian tagged by precision punches by Sandro. In the following two frames, Malegarie seemed to settle down and find his rhythm, though he was never able to secure the upper hand in the fight. Failed takedown attempts by Malegarie provided plenty of chances for Sandro to land heavy, crisp punches and a few nice flying knees. After three rounds of extremely technical pugilism, Sandro was awarded the unanimous decision, making him the evening’s first man to punch his ticket into the featherweight tournament finals.
Bellator 47’s main event saw former promotional lightweight tournament winner, Pat Curran (15-4) square off with promising Englishman, Ronnie “Kid Ninja” Mann (20-4-1). Like the Sandro/Malegarie bout, these two engaged in a highly technical duel. Mann appeared comfortable and willing to let his hands and feet go, but Curran’s tight defense enabled him to effectively counter Mann, landing a few flush left hands to the face of Mann.
Back and forth went this battle, with Mann one step behind Curran for the duration of the bout. A series of flying knees from the Team Curran standout kept Ronnie off balance and guessing, which enabled Pat to dictate the pace and placement of the fight. A few well timed takedowns helped Curran to secure the victory, though ultimately, it was his striking (surprisingly, to some) that played the biggest difference in the fight. In the end, Pat’s precision and constant pressure left little question as to who would advance to meet Sandro in the tournament finals.