In the land of Bellator, the one-eyed man was king. Or at least that was the case for one night.
Competing inside the Bellator cage for the first time, middleweight veteran Gegard Mousasi used timely grappling to survive the aggressive striking of Alexander Shlemenko and win a unanimous decision in the main event of Bellator 185 on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
It was Mousasis first fight since April, when he defeated Chris Weidman by second-round TKO at UFC 210. The stoic Dutchman took his talents to the Bellator cage where he found himself matched up with Shlemenko, a former champion who gave him everything he could handle.
In Round 1, an overhand left from Shlemenko caused Mousasis eye to swell up badly, prompting Mousasi to take the action to the mat and hunt for a rear-naked choke. Though Shlemenko was able to avoid the submission, he was also unable to capitalize on the damage that he did to Mousasi.
After a doctors examination, Mousasi was cleared to fight on and Round 2 told a similar story to the first period as Mousasi stalked Shlemenko while defending against the Russians spinning techniques. The Dreamcatcher was able to end the round in back control once more, which was enough to keep him ahead on the scorecards.
That lead was essential in the final frame, which was clearly won by Shlemenko. He poured it on, avoiding Mousasis takedown attempts while capitalizing on the limited vision of his opponent. It was not the highlight finish that Mousasi was looking for, but he was able to withstand the closing onslaught and make it to the judges scorecards, with all three rewarding him the fight 29-28.
It was the 43rd professional win for Mousasi who was competing in his 51st fight. He has now won six straight dating back to September 2015. On the other side, Shlemenko sees his career record fall to 56-10 (with one no-contest).
In the co-main event, Neiman Gracie improved to 7-0 with a second-round neck crank submission of Zak Bucia. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert was in attack mode from the start, putting Bucia down on the mat and taking his back. Bucia was forced to defend against a rear-naked choke, then an omoplata, and a leg lock as he attempted to scramble free.
The fight made it to Round 2, but Gracie was able to take the back again and this time seal the deal.
Also, on the main card lightweight Ryan Quinn outwrestled Marcus Surin to win a unanimous decision, and two boxing exports found themselves facing hard times in womens flyweight action.
Heather Hardy was reduced to a bloody mess by a kick right to the face courtesy of kickboxer Kristina Williams, forcing a doctor stoppage in Round 2, and former WBO champion Ana Julaton came out on the wrong end of a split decision vs. the grappling-minded Lisa Blaine.