Welcome to Inside Fights’ live coverage of Bellator 97, the most stacked card in Bellator history. The event is headlined by two title fights as Michael Chandler defends the Bellator Lightweight Championship against David Rickels, and Ben Askren defends the Bellator Welterweight Championship against Andrey Koreshkov, plus the finals of the light heavyweight and heavyweight tournaments. I’m Ryan Frederick and I will be providing coverage of tonight’s event, which takes place at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Stay tuned for live coverage of the night’s main card on SPIKE TV. You can find results of the prelims below the main card coverage. Enjoy the fights everyone.
Patricio Freire vs. Jared Downing
Referee: Raul Porrata
ROUND 1- Freire starts off with a big combination as both men grab the center of the cage. Freire with a head kick followed by a right hand that drops Downing. Freire attacks with punches and drops into a guillotine choke. Downing fights it off and escapes and is on top now. Freire is controlling Downing from the bottom. Freire gets against the cage as he looks to get back to the feet. Downing with a punch from the top. Freire bounces up and they are clinched against the cage. Downing with some knees to Freire’s legs. Freire switches positions and they are split by the referee. Both land a left jab. Downing lands a leg kick and Freire counters with a right hand. Freire lands another big right hand. Downing lunges in with a punch but Freire hits him with a right. Downing goes for a kick but Freire reverses it and grabs Downing’s back. Downing causes a break. Downing with a leg kick. Downing lands a right hand. Downing rushes in and Freire drops him again with another right hand. Downing gets back up and goes for a takedown but it is defended. Freire lands a nice combo against the cage and they clinch against the cage. Downing looking for the takedown but Freire is defending well. They are content to hang together against the cage. Freire goes for a guillotine choke on a takedown as the round ends with Downing on top. 10-9 Freire.
ROUND 2- Downing rushes forward to start the round. Downing with a leg kick. Freire counters with a head kick. Freire circles well as Downing lands a leg kick. Freire lands a left hand and knocks Downing down with a right hand. Freire then lands a flying knee and Downing is down looking for a takedown. Back to the feet and Freire lands a big right hand that sends Downing down again. The referee rushes in and this fight has been stopped. Downing recovered quickly but is not protesting the stoppage. He was getting rocked on his feet by Freire. Big win for Freire.
Official Result: Patricio Freire def. Jared Downing by TKO (punch) at :54 of Round 2
Ryan Martinez vs. Vitaly Minakov
Referee: Raul Porrata
ROUND 1- This is the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament. Minakov starts with a combo and Martinez forces a clinch. Minakov pushes the fight against the cage as they battle for underhooks. Minakov with a short elbow followed by a knee. Minakov tries to trip Martinez but Martinez keeps it on the feet. Minakov with a knee and Martinez pushes Minakov off and Minakov goes to the ground. Martinez locks in a guillotine choke but lets it go as they’re on the feet. Minakov pushes Martinez back with a combo. Minakov misses an overhand right and Martinez lands a right hand in counter. They clinch again and Minakov scores a takedown and is on top. Martinez battling from bottom and gets back to the feet but eats a knee. Martinez misses a right hand but lands a solid left hand. Minakov grabs a body lock and lands a knee against the fence. Martinez lands a knee followed by one from Minakov as they break. Martinez with an uppercut as they tie up. Minakov with an elbow. Martinez lands a nice right hand. Minakov just misses on a straight right hand. Minakov lands a straight right hand and they clinch against the cage. Both land a knee. This round can still be won with a minute left. Martinez lands a right hook as they break. Minakov lands a right hand as Martinez lands one of his own. Minakov shoots for a takedown and it is defended as they tie up against the cage. They ride out the round against the cage. 10-9 Minakov.
ROUND 2- They touch gloves to start round 2. Minakov backs Martinez up with a right hand. Martinez seems to have trouble seeing and is bleeding from the nose. Minakov lands a combo but Martinez counters with a left. Minakov misses a big right hand they clinch up. Both with tight body locks but Minakov pushes Martinez against the cage. Minakov with a knee to the body of Martinez. Minakov with a body punch but then lands a knee to the groin of Martinez. We have a break in the action. They take a point from Minakov. He wasn’t warned previously, and that changes the complex of this fight. Minakov comes out swinging as he has now lost that point. Minakov goes for a takedown but Martinez lands a right hand. Minakov goes in for a punch but Martinez lands a right jab. Minakov with a right hand and Martinez misses a counter. Minakov looks to be the better conditioned fighter. Martinez misses with a right hand over the top. Martinez misses a lunging right hand and Minakov lands a left hand. Minakov with a combo. Martinez lands a big left hand but Minakov shakes it off. Martinez misses a big left hook. Minakov with a body punch and lands a knee as they clinch briefly. Minakov goes for the takedown and pushes Martinez against the fence as Martinez defends. They ride out the round against against the fence. 9-9 with the point deduction. 19-18 Minakov.
ROUND 3- Martinez looks very tired to start the final round. Martinez is circling but Minakov is applying pressure. Martinez lands a right hand. Martinez misses a combination. Minakov lands a right hand. Martinez misses on some more punches. Minakov lands a right hand but Martinez counters with a left hand. Martinez lands another left hand. Minakov steps into the pocket and forces a clinch. They break and Martinez lands a punch. Minakov lands a big combo but Martinez is unfazed. Minakov gets a takedown as they clinch and is on top. Martinez with a punch from the bottom. Martinez stands up and lands some ground-and-pound. Martinez rolls over and gives his back to Minakov. Minakov lands big punches from the top and Martinez is trying to survive. Minakov is landing big punches as he gets full mount. Minakov with short elbows and more punches as he keeps Martinez down. Minakov with more elbow strikes. Martinez tries to turn but Minakov has a good lock on him. Minakov with more smothering punches from the top. Minakov unloads a series of right hands but Martinez is continuing. Martinez tries to roll again but can’t. Minakov with more punches and elbows from the top. Minakov with more punches from the top and starts landing big right hands. Martinez is dazed and the referee calls a stop to this fight. Minakov with a dominating round leading to the finish as he wins the heavyweight tournament.
Official Result: Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez by TKO (punches) at 4:02 of Round 3
Muhammed Lawal vs. Jacob Noe
Referee: Jason Herzog
ROUND 1- This is the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament finals. They don’t like each other but they touch gloves before the fight. Noe with a leg kick to start off the fight. Noe with another leg kick as Lawal looks for a takedown. Lawal gets the takedown and is in the half-guard of Noe. Lawal with some big left hands on the ground and he moves into side control. Noe starts to get to his feet and does. Lawal goes for another takedown and gets it. Noe is against the cage and punches Lawal but is warned for punches to the back of the head. Lawal with some punches as he has Noe against the cage. Lawal with a knee as both get to their feet. Lawal looking for another takedown and gets it. Both are against the cage and Lawal lands a knee to the body. They get to their feet and separate. Noe with a high kick on Lawal. Lawal goes for another takedown and gets a big one. Lawal is in the guard of Noe. Lawal with punches from the top and Noe is covering up. Lawal with an elbow. Lawal looking to advance position as not a lot is going on. The crowd sends out some boos. Lawal with more punches as Noe covers up. Noe is surviving but eats a lot of punches. Noe covers up again and Lawal lands some body punches. Noe moves and is able to get back into full guard. Lawal is content to just remain on top. Noe tries to fight to his feet but they drag it out on the ground. Lawal lands a big knee to the body just before the bell. 10-9 Lawal.
ROUND 2- Lawal comes out looking for the takedown again. Noe backs him up with a right hand. Noe is circling as Lawal is looking to land a right hand, which he does. Lawal then transitions into a takedown and gets Noe down. Lawal gets into the guard of Noe. Noe closes his guard and lands some punches from the bottom. Lawal with body punches from the top. Lawal with more body punches and then lands some punches to the head. Some hammerfists from Lawal as he turns it on looking for the finish. Noe puts his legs up as he looks for the armbar but Lawal easily escapes. Lawal with more punches from the top. Lawal lands a big right hand from the top. Both men are beginning to show signs of being tired, especially Noe. Lawal postures up and tries to move into side control. Lawal with another body shot. Lawal with more body shots. Noe is not doing much to escape. Lawal with some hammerfists to the head of Noe. More hammerfists and Noe is beginning to look like he is out. Noe is bloody. He recovers and is trying to escape and lands a few punches from the bottom. Lawal with more punches from the top. Noe tries to escape but can’t. Lawal with a dominating round as it comes to a close. 10-8 Lawal. 20-17 Lawal.
ROUND 3- They touch gloves to start the round. Noe starts with a combo. Noe with a left hand. Lawal goes for the takedown but can’t get it. Lawal with more ground-and-pound. Noe tries to get back up from the bottom and does but is very bloody. Lawal lands a big right hand and Noe is rocked. Noe comes back with a big right hand. Lawal gets another takedown and is looking to try and ride out the decision. Noe is covering up from the bottom but Lawal is landing more big punches. Referee Jason Herzog finally steps in and stops the fight and Lawal wins this season’s light heavyweight tournament.
Official Result: Muhammed Lawal def. Jacob Noe by TKO (punches) at 2:51 of Round 3
Following this fight, it was announced that Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tito Ortiz will fight each other when Bellator debuts on pay-per-view. The fight will take place on November 2 from Long Beach, California.
Ben Askren vs. Andrey Koreshkov
Referee: Jason Herzog
ROUND 1- This is for the Bellator Welterweight Championship held by Askren. We know Askren will be going for the takedowns, let’s see how quickly he scores one. Immediately he goes for one but Koreshkov defends it. Askren is still going for it and finally gets it and is on top of Koreshkov. Askren goes for a cradle and is looking for the neck of Koreshkov. Askren with some punches on the ground and is getting that guillotine choke locked it. He has it in tight but Koreshkov is defending. Askren lets it go and is looking to transition to the back. Koreshkov is fighting everything off and gets back to his feet. Both men are on their feet as Askren looks to get it back down to the mat. Askren gets it down and takes the back of Koreshkov. Askren with some punches from the back. Askren with more punches, now from the top. Askren looks for the rear-naked choke but Koreshkov fights it off. Askren with some short elbows to the head of Koreshkov. Askren rolls Koreshkov over and is looking for the rear-naked choke again. Koreshkov escapes but is still in trouble. Askren still has the back of Koreshkov. He looks for the choke again but if he can’t get it he attacks with punches. Complete domination by Askren thus far. Askren with some elbows and punches. Askren moves into a front headlock and then moves to the back of Koreshkov. Koreshkov is being worn out. The round is coming to an end and Askren wins this round big. Koreshkov lands an elbow at the end and Askren smiles and laughs at it. 10-8 Askren.
ROUND 2- Round 2 gets underway and Askren immediately goes back for the takedown. The fight goes to the mat and Askren is on top of Koreshkov. Koreshkov has nothing for Askren and it could be a long fight. Askren gets on top of Koreshkov and is landing punches. Askren takes his back and lands punches from the back. Askren taunts on the back of Koreshkov. Askren with more punches from the back. Askren is looking for the rear-naked choke. Askren with more punches as Koreshkov rolls in an attempt to get up from bottom. Koreshkov tries to roll out again but Askren really has him pinned down on the bottom. Askren is looking to move into side control which he does. Askren is trying to get into a crucifix position. Askren is dominating the fight and Koreshkov has no answer for anything. Askren with more punches from the top. Not much going on as Askren is in pure domination and continually landing from the top. Askren gets the mounted crucifix and Askren lands punches as the round ends. 10-8 Askren. 20-16 Askren.
ROUND 3- Koreshkov had to be carried to his corner in between rounds. Koreshkov lands a big knee to the face of Askren as Askren goes in for the takedown. Askren gets the takedown and is on top of Koreshkov. Askren with some ground-and-pound and Koreshkov tries to roll to his back. Askren looks for the rear-naked choke but turns back into punches. Askren with more punches from the top of Koreshkov. Askren is still looking to potentially locked in another choke. Askren stands up and lands punches as Koreshkov is sitting on the ground. Askren goes for a neck crank but lets go. Koreshkov is still surviving but has shown no signs of being able to win this fight. Koreshkov moves to his back and Askren mounts him and lands several punches from the top. It could be stopped soon. Askren is wearing Koreshkov down with those punches and Koreshkov is extremely tired. Koreshkov rolls to his side and Askren lands some more punches. They get back to the feet and Koreshkov rolls but Askren still has his back. Koreshkov gets on his back and Askren lands more punches and taunts some more again. 10-8 Askren. 30-24 Askren.
ROUND 4- Askren gets the takedown and passes into full mount and transitions into an arm-triangle choke. Askren has it in but Koreshkov is surviving. Askren gives up on the choke attempt and moves back into full mount. Koreshkov rolls to his back but Askren has him dominated. The referee warns Koreshkov to fight or he will stop the fight. Askren moves into side control and is looking to control with his legs and get into a crucifix position. Askren lands more punches from the top. Askren has the mount and is landing more from the top. Askren talks to the referee and seems to want this fight stopped. Koreshkov has nothing for Askren and it is really surprising this fight has not been stopped. Askren with more punches from the top and Koreshkov rolls to his back. Askren with more punches from the back mount. Koreshkov is taking the punches and referee Jason Herzog finally stops this fight. Askren made it look way too easy. Askren retains the championship.
Official Result: Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreshkov by TKO (punches) at 2:58 of Round 4
Ben Askren remains the Bellator Welterweight Champion.
Michael Chandler vs. David Rickels
Referee: Jason Herzog
ROUND 1- This is for the Bellator Lightweight Championship held by Chandler. Rickels starts with an inside leg kick. Rickels with a high front kick. Chandler mixes it up and hits a left hand. Rickels goes for a leg kick and Chandler grabs his leg and punches him. Rickels lands a left hook but Chandler drops Rickels with a right hand and pounces on him. Rickels gets up but gets knocked back down and Chandler lands several more right hands from the top and Rickels is out cold! Big knockout win for Chandler! Rickels is still down but Chandler remains the lightweight champion.
Official Result: Michael Chandler def. David Rickels by KO (punches) at :44 of Round 1
Michael Chandler remains the Bellator Lightweight Champion.
Preliminary Card Results:
Bubba Jenkins def. Mike Barreras by TKO (punches) at 1:05 of Round 2
Anthony Leone def. Frank Baca by Submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:07 of Round 3 (Bellator Bantamweight Tournament)
Rafael Silva def. Rodrigo Lima by Submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:03 of Round 3 (Bellator Bantamweight Tournament)
Will Brooks def. Cris Leyva by TKO (punches) at 2:20 of Round 3
Javier Palacios def. Richard Jacques by unanimous decision
Jeremy Kimball def. Keith Berry by KO (punches) at 1:45 of Round 2
Adrian Cruz def. Felipe Chavez by TKO (punches) in Round 2
Donald Sanchez def. Cliff Wright Jr. by split decision
Shawn Bunch def. Russell Wilson by split decision
Tags: Bellator, Ben Askren, Michael Chandler, Mixed Martial Arts, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, Patricio Pitbull Freire