Polish Veteran Advances to Lightweight Tournament Semifinals
Marcin Held (14-2) had his hands full with the previously undefeated Murad Machaev (9-1) at Bellator 77 on Friday night, but the Polish fighter was able to win over the judges in a tightly contested match-up to claim the victory. In addition to giving his Russian opponent his first career loss, Held also moved onto the semifinal round of the Bellator Lightweight Tournament with the win.
After the opening bell, Held began stalking Machaev as he circled the cage, soon claiming the first advantage of the bout after successfully shooting on his opposition to earn an early takedown. However, Machaev was able to escape without much damage, and the action resumed from the standing position. After a grappling exchange throughout the middle of the frame, Held was able to once again acquire control on the canvas. By the time the round concluded, though, Machaev rolled out of the grasp of Held and finished on his feet.
In the second frame, more close range striking was engaged, and Machaev landed his best punch of the fight to that point when he delivered a right uppercut flush to the face of a crouching Held, who quickly fell into the crab position to get his head straight before returning to his feet. Machaev was clearly gaining confidence after that exchange, and he repeatedly landed some well placed strikes to the end of the stanza.
Machaev was once again walking down Held at the start of the third frame and quickly dropped him following a left jab, overhand right combination. He continued to apply pressure as Held looked to keep him at distance by throwing the lead jab, rolling under the attempt and firing a right-handed counter. Machaev began to fall in love with that overhand right, throwing it with consistency after leading engagement with a front jab. Held was able to hang in there despite the aggression, and this fight eventually went to the cards.
Rather surprisingly, it was Held who claimed the win when all three judges turned in a 29-28 count in his favor, sending him onto the next round of the lightweight competition.
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