Vanier and UFC veteran Clementi put on an entertaining fight (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
Tight Split Decision Goes in Favor of Young Wrestler
New Orleans, La. (Thursday, September 9, 2010) – The action was jam-packed at Bellator 28, live from the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans on Thursday, with a huge lightweight qualifier stealing the night. With entrance into the Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament on the line, it was young Carey Vanier (10-3) who overcame veteran Mixed Martial Artist Rich Clementi (37-17-1) via a hard-fought split decision.
Great sportsmanship was shown throughout this entertaining affair, starting with a gentleman’s tap of the gloves at the opening horn. Both fighters displayed good footwork as the match began with an exchange of strikes from the stand-up position. Vanier was displaying some good boxing, but Clementi went for an early takedown to put the action on the floor. He worked ground control to the full-mount once getting it there, and Vanier looked to be pretty disadvantaged despite excellent grappling skills. He tried to stand up with Clementi on his back, but the weight of the UFC veteran proved to be too much to find success in that plan. Clementi was then able to apply a rather strong body triangle on his opposition, working the closed guard to prevent Vanier from being able to make much of a move. With about 25 seconds left in the opening frame, the two fighters finally took it back to their feet, but the bell would ring before either was able to land any significantly damaging blows.
With the first round playing in his memory, Vanier looked to keep the second stanza action in the stand-up position as long as he could. Clementi tried to capitalize with some kicks, while his opponent focused more on landing some strikes. Around the 3:30 mark, the action was again taken back to the ground, but Vanier was able to work himself into somewhat of a controlling position. After about a minute of wrestling, this bout went back to its feet, but Clementi again looked to shoot before being slammed on a counter by Vanier. Clementi tried to regain the flow of action by applying the guillotine, but the horn would eventually sound with both competitors firing off some good ground and pound.
The third frame again started with an exchange of strikes by these two southpaws, but it was then shifted back to the floor where Vanier gained control. About the midway point, the two fighters were somewhat stood up on the side of the cage, and Vanier began to throw a series of knees. To counter the attack, Clementi went to a three-point stance, but an illegal knee split his right brow open. Vanier clearly did not know that his opponent got his hand into the three-point stance, so referee Marc LeBlanc called a timeout but did not negate a point. Once his corner had stopped the bleeding as best it could, Clementi continued but was unable to garner an upper hand in the final couple of minutes of the match. The final round again concluded on the ground, but Vanier possessed a slight advantage when the bell finished the bout.
When the judges’ score cards were then pulled, Vanier took the split decision by a tally of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.
In other action tonight, Eric Schambari (13-2) defeated Matt Horwich (25-16-1) via split decision in a middleweight pairing, while featherweight Georgi Karakhanyan (14-2-1) took a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Leone (8-2). Also winning in his Bellator debut was featherweight Eric Larkin (3-0), who submitted Marcus Andrusia (1-1) via guillotine choke at the 2:46 mark of the first round.