Bellator 115 was held Friday, April 4th at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. It featured a main event heavyweight title fight between champion Vitaly Minakov and Season 9 tournament winner, Cheick Kongo.
The undefeated 13-0 Vitaly Minakov makes his first title defense of his newly won Bellator Heavyweight championship. Minakov defeated fellow Russian Alexander Volkov at Bellator 108 to capture the title.
Meanwhile, Season 9 heavyweight tournament winner Cheick Kongo (20-8-2) challenges for the belt–he defeated Mark Godbeer and Peter Graham in the tournament to earn this shot at the title. Kongo was looking to win his first championship in MMA since winning the King of the Ring heavyweight title in 2005.
It would be a 5-round grueling title fight with an abundance of takedown exchanges between Kongo and Minakov. Save for one round, Minakov would dominate the contender with his takedowns and top control–and on some instances staggering Kongo on the feet with his strikes–on way to defending his Bellator Heavyweight championship.
The Bellator 115 fight card was originally to feature a middleweight semifinal between Jeremy Kimball and Dan Cramer, however due to Kimball missing weight that fight was cancelled from the card. Also, the welterweight semifinal between Andrey Koreshkov and Sam Oropeza was supposed to be on the main card, however the Koreshkov could not compete due to flu illness. Thus, making this a rare short 9-fight card.
Bellator Heavyweight Championship: Vitaly Minakov vs. Cheick Kongo
Fight starts immediately with a unintentional kick to the groin by Minakov. When action began, Minakov was the aggressor, forcing Kongo to back up against the cage where Minakov clinched and easily got Kongo to the ground. Kongo would separate and find his way back to his feet but Minakov would land a 2nd illegal shot to the groin in the process. The 2nd shot would warrant a point deduction from referee Herb Dean. Action restarted for the 2nd time, Kongo this time came out aggressive looking to land, but Minakov caught him with a right hand and dropped Kongo. Both would spend a minute in 50/50 guard as Minakov attempted a leg lock, Minakov finished the round on top in Kongo’s half guard.
Kongo landed a takedown early in the 2nd round, but Minakov would quickly scramble to get back to his feet. From there both fighters worked in the clinch, leading to an awkward pause in action when Kongo singaled that he had been stuck in the groin, but the referee did not acknowledge. Minakov rocked Kongo with a right hand, took him down into mound and ended the round in back mount.
Minakov took Kongo down to begin round 3, but Kongo would scoot to put his back against the fence, where Minakov had to posture up over him to land shots. Kongo timed one of Minakov’s knees to the body and turned it into a takedown of his own. An exhausted Minakov would muster up enough energy to get back up and end up on top of Kongo in half-guard to end the round.
Round 4 was Cheick Kongo’s most successful round, as his cardio outlasted that of Minakov’s. Kongo was able to take Minakov down from the clinch, and remain on top for the entire round, keeping Minakov on his back every time he made an attempt to get back up. With 20 seconds left in the round, Herb Dean would stand the fighters up, and Vitaly Minakov showed signs of life when he landed a trip takedown to end the round.
Herb Dean toweled off both sweaty heavyweights before the 5th round, which began with Minakov landing a trip takedown in the opening seconds. The entire round would be spent on the mat, with Minakov in half-guard and later mounting Kongo, all while landing ground and pound.
Vitaly Minakov def. Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46) to retain the Bellator Heavyweight Championship
Justin Baesman vs. Herman Terrado
Both fighters are looking for their 1st Bellator victory after losing in their respective debuts. Terrado was able to land a takedown on Baesman against the fence in round 1, he would remain on top for the entire round in Baesman guard while landing some short punches. Round 2 Baesman was able to catch Terrado on the feet that led to a guillotine choke attempt. Baesman took advantaged by taking the back of Terrado with over/under control but would get caught in Baesman’s leg lock attempt–allowing them to scramble back to their feet. From there, Baesman landed a couple of knees in the clinch that dropped Terrado to the squatting position. Baesman would end round 2 very strong, nearly finishing the fight with ground and pound, but Terrado saved by the bell.
Both fighters came out throwing in the 3rd, showing huge heart, Baesman would take Terrado down but quickly get swept with a kimura attempt which Terrado turned in a deep armbar attempt. Baesman would patiently escape, but find himself on the bottom to end the round as Terrado landed the final takedown. The very entertaining fight ended in a majority draw as two judges scored a 10-8 round for Justin Baesman.
Kelly Anundson vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Undefeated 10-0 Volkna Oezdemir made his 2nd appearance in Bellator against American Top Team’s Kelly Anundson. Anundson controlled things in round 1, with his takedowns and relentless pursuit of the takedown, having his arms grasped around Oezdemir’s waist in the clinch. Round 2 was more of the same, with Anundson not giving Oezdemir any breathing r0om on the ground. Kelly Anundson would eventually work towards a neck crank against the fence and get Volkna Oezdemir to tap.
Johnny Cisneros vs. Mikkel Parlo
Mikkel Parlo bounced back from his Season 9 middleweight tournament final loss to Brennan Ward, against Johnny Cisneros. From the get-go it was apparent that Parlo’s skills would outclass the debuting Cisneros, he swarmed on him early with the takedowns and ground and pound. Parlo would keep up the same pace and same dominance over Cisneros in all 3 rounds, securing side-mount, mount him and not relinquishing position. Parlo earned a unanimous decision over Cisneros.
In the final prelim, the tall and lanky Jimmy Jones was able to repeatedly takedown Rudy Morales in round 1. Round 2 the takedowns did not come easy as Morales was able to defend, but on the feet it was Jones that was able to land the effective strikes using his reach. Morales was the aggressor in pushing the pace in round 2, throwing the heavier strikes and landing a few big shots. Morales took control in the 3rd, securing a deep kimura attempt once the fight hit the ground, he gave it up and secured mount–where he threw some heavy ground and pound with elbows. Rudy Morales’ strong 3rd round would earn him the split decision over Jimmy Jones.
Former Strikeforce veteran, James Terry took on grappler Rick Reeves. Reeves was able to get the takedown early, but Terry used a guillotine choke attempt to reverse and gain top position in round 1. Round 2 was a complete opposite, with the entire round spent in the stand up, Reeves being the aggressor, pushing Terry back and using his reach to land shots. Terry would turn it up half way through the round and began coming forward to land strikes of his own. James Terry defended a takedown to begin round 3 and landed one of his own on Reeves, Terry would remain on top in half guard for the rest of the round. But the dominant 3rd round was not enough, as the judges ruled a split decision for Rick Reeves.
Heavyweights took to the Bellator cage, as Freddie Aquitania wasted no time getting the fight to the ground against Josh Appelt, who came into this fight riding a 6-fight winning streak. Aquintania took Appelt’s back and was heavy on top while digging for the rear naked choke. Applet would survive but the 2nd round was more of the same as the fighters became increasingly exhausted, Aquitania spent the entire round on Appelt’s back. Appelt came out fresh in the 3rd round and finally generated some offense keeping the fight standing and landing his left hands on Aquintania–who’s eyes continued to swell up in a nasty fashion. But it wasn’t enough as Freddie Aquitania would hold on to win the unanimous decision, snapping Appelt’s win streak.
A couple of lightweights both made their pro debuts, 19 year old Jason Powell and 21 year old Sinjen Smith. Smith started off blasting Powell with kicks in the standup, until Powell secured a takedown. But from the bottom Smith would weather the top control of Powell, and as Powell postured up, he locked in an armbar for the tap in round 1.
A very entertaining flyweight fight kicked off the card as Benito Lopez made his professional MMA debut a successful one, showcasing a well rounded MMA game–using his boxing, landing several takedowns in the fight and ability to remain in control on the ground. Lopez also overcame a little adversity in the 2nd round when he was rocked by opponent Oscar Ramirez, to earn the Unanimous Decision victory.
MAIN CARD (9 PM EST, Spike TV)
Bellator Heavyweight Championship: Vitaly Minakov def. Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46)
Justin Baesman vs. Herman Terrado ends in a Majority Draw (29-28 Terrado, 28-28, 28-28)
Kelly Anundson def. Volkan Oezdemir via Submission (neck crank)–Round 2, 3:19
Catchweight bout: Mikkel Parlo def. Johnny Cisneros via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
PRELIMINARY CARD (7 PM EST, Spike.com)
Rudy Morales def. Jimmy Jones (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Rick Reeves def. James Terry via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Freddie Aquitania def. Josh Appelt via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sinjen Smith def. Jason Powell via Submission (armbar)–Round 1, 1:52
Benito Lopez def. Oscar Ramirez via UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Tags: Bellator 115 Bellator MMA Benito Lopez Cheick Kongo Freddie Aquitania Herman Terrado James Terry Jason Powell Johnny Cisneros Josh Appelt Justin Baesman Kelly Anundson Mikkel Parlo MMA Oscar Ramirez Rick Reeves Sinjen Smith Vitaly Minakov Volkan Oezdemir