Bellator is back and tonight the promotion kicked off their seventh season in New Jersey with Bellator 74. The final season before the promotion moves over to Spike TV will feature four new tournaments, starting with the welterweights.
The four opening round tournament bouts made up the entire Bellator 74 main card on MTV2, while the six preliminary fights streamed live on Spike.com. Here’s how the night played out…..
170 lbs. Tournament bout – Jordan Smith vs. Andrey Koreshkov:
The first fight of the televised card started off with a bang as American product Jordan Smith faced Russian striker Andrey Koreshkov. Koreshkov’s karate based striking was on display early as he threw rapid long-range punch combinations, heavy mid-kicks and even a spinning heel kick that grazed his foe in center cage. Smith was up to the test early though, working limited counter punches and keeping on his bicycle to avoid being a stationary target. Smith made several attempts to put the fight on the mat and finally succeeded late in the round, but missed with a Peruvian necktie and guillotine. Thus, the round ended with Smith on his back on the wrong end of a ground and pound assault.
Round two started with Smith bull rushing Koreshkov, and even though he ate a serious uppercut in the process, immediately found his way into back control on the Russian fighter. Koreshkov fought the choke for three full minutes and was nearly tapped once, but managed to spin inside the guard and begin trying to steal the round back. Smith showed great composure as Koreshkov worked ground and pound and landed a serious up kick, ending the round while hunting for a kneebar.
With the fight seemingly tied up to start the third, both fighters looked to establish themselves early, with Koreshkov seeking a KO blast while Smith looked to make the last round another ground war. The clearly arm-weary Koreshkov had lost something off of his punches though, and while both men were able to connect, neither had the juice to put the other one away. Even with both men winded, Koreshkov defended the center of the cage well and stalked the ever-circling Smith well, closing out the round as the clear winner.
Andrey Koreshkov wins by Unanimous Decision (29-28×3)
170 lbs. Tournament bout – Tim Welch vs. Michail Tsarev:
In yet another USA vs. Russia fight in this tournament, the young country boy Welch squared off with 23-2 Sambo fighter Tsarev. The fight began with the aggressive Welch pressuring Tsarev against the fence and both fighters throwing massive looping punches. Once Tsarev got the better position in the clinch though, it was downhill fast as he maneuvered through Welch’s limited guard and nearly tapped him with a slick guillotine. A quick and blatant upkick foul by Tsarev paused this bout momentarily, and the Russian was clearly in control after the restart, using his tactical Sambo experience.
The second round started with Tsarev going for heavy kicks to the legs and body while Welch rushed in on the attack and looked to dirty box and land leather. Tsarev’s unorthodox grappling seemed to fluster Welch with his odd-angled takedown attacks and transitions on the mat, which played out to be sloppy yet effective against Welch. The end came at the two-minute mark, as Tsarev gave up on a crucifix and leaped for an RNC, getting the tapout and advancing in the tournament.
Michail Tsarev wins via 2nd round Submission (RNC)
170 lbs. Tournament bout – Marius Zaromskis vs. Nordine Taleb:
Fan favorite Marius Zaromskis finally enters the tournament format here, taking on former Middleweight fighter Nordine Taleb. The head kicks started, not from Zaromskis, but from Taleb as he blasted Zaromskis defense while giving ground freely. Both men rifled brutal leg kicks into the other, but a spinning back fist from Zaromskis came out of nowhere and dropped Taleb at the two-minute mark. Taleb managed to regain his feet but the tide had turned as Zaromskis landed heavy punches and shrugged off Taleb’s takedown attempts. The final minute saw Taleb get back into the fight a bit, working combination boxing and using his superior reach to land on Zaromskis, bringing a spirited first round to a close.
The second started with Zaromskis immediately stalking as Taleb backed away and used his reach, landing a few hard counters when Zaromskis got too close. Zaromskis was having none of it though, as he lunged in and punched Taleb clean off his feet, following him to the mat and taking side control, but being stood up with no action on the mat. Taleb immediately went after it, throwing jumping knees and looping punches, but the composed Zaromskis avoided the majority of the damage and shrugged off a single takedown attempt. The round ends with Taleb throwing every kick attack in his arsenal, but not doing much real damage.
The third started with Zaromskis firing a takedown, but his surprise attack was denied as Taleb went back to a retreating and countering. Some early success from Taleb gave way to a stalemate against the cage as Zaromskis pressured the former Middleweight while hunting for a takedown, but the referee demanded a restart. Taleb seemed to the fresher of the two fighters as he outworked Zaromskis from the outside, although a belly to back suplex from Zaromskis got a pop from the crowd and changed the momentum of the fight. The final thirty seconds saw Zaromskis land a flush headkick that stunned Taleb, but a slip on a spinning backfist saved Taleb from a brutal KO, sending the fight to a decision.
Marius Zaromskis wins via Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28×2)
170 lbs. Tournament bout - Lyman Good vs. Jim Wallhead
The final bout of the Welterweight tournament saw the former champion Lyman Good take on rising veteran fighter Jim Wallhead. Using his size advantage, Good worked smart dirty boxing inside the clinch and expert punching when disengaging, but Wallhead was right there with him early, throwing knees and body punches. The momentum clearly went in Good’s favor though as he shoved Wallhead around the cage and landed the better punches as the round wore on to the end.
The second started much as the first, although Wallhead realized he was being worked in this fight and started to avoid the clinch, shooting for takedowns and disengaging to work his growing boxing skills. The aggression cost him though, as Good rattled Wallhead at the minute thirty mark and never let him off the hook, moving him around the cage with punches and leg kicks, while on cruise control.
With the fight firmly in Good’s favor, Good kept the pace moderately high to shut out Wallhead, but avoid taking any real chances. A groin kick by Good paused the fight for a moment and seemed to ignite a fire under Wallhead, as he charged out and threw a volley of punches, but Good was simply too composed to be thrown off track. As Good kept the pressure on, a knee found Wallhead’s groin again and a point was deducted in the last few seconds, but the fight was still easy to score.
Lyman Good wins a Unanimous decision (29-27×3)
Bellator 74 Undercard results:
Will Martinez defeated Casey Johnson by 1st rd. Submission (rear-naked choke)
Michelle Ould defeated Munah Holland by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra defeated Matt McCook by 1st rd. Submission (rear-naked choke)
Phillipe Nover defeated Derrick Kennington by 1st rd. Technical Submission (rear-naked choke)
Brylan Van Artsdalen defeated Jay Haas by 1st rd. Submission (guillotine choke)
Claudio Ledesma defeated Kenny Foster by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)