Conrad worked a ground startegy to take the win (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
Battle of Two Unbeaten Heavyweights Results in Decision Victory for Konrad
Milwaukee, Wisc. (Thursday, September 16, 2010) – The finals for the Bellator Season 3 Heavyweight Tournament are now set after Bellator 29 on Thursday. Cole Konrad (6-0) was able to overcome Damian Grabowki (13-1) via unanimous decision in the feature event at Rave/Eagles Club in Milwaukee, while Neil Grove (9-2) defeated Alexey Oleinik (27-6) via first round TKO on the other side of the semifinal bracket.
“I’m just continuing trying to develop,” Konrad stated after his win. “I’m far from being the well-rounded fighter I want to be, and every time I’m out here, (I gain) a little more confidence, work on a little more technique, and hopefully I’ll be all the way around.”
Konrad, who was a two-time NCAA Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion while attending Minnesota, came into this fight with a well designed game plan, and at no point did he shy away from his strategy. Being the superior grappler, he aimed to take the match to the ground, and he then had every intention on keeping it there. It was just seconds into the first round when he first took Grabowski to the floor, right after his Polish counterpart immediately rushed in and missed with a big hook. Konrad then slid into side control and smothered his opponent. For the entirety of the opening round, he stayed on top of Grabowski, working knee shots to the body and throwing periodic punches to the head. At no point did Konrad give up the advantage, and the bout never went back to its feet.
The second frame started with a stand-up exchange, but a clinch at the 20-second mark led to another ground battle just 10 ticks later. Konrad started in a half mount and then slipped back to side control, this time up against the Bellator cage. Seeing how the action was unfolding, Grabowski went for the kimura from the bottom position, but Konrad was able to block the attempt. With not much action occurring, the referee stood the duo back up midway through the stanza, and Konad began trying to chop down Grabowski with a series of kicks to his thigh. The Polish heavyweight then tried to shoot, but his effort was blocked and resulted in Konrad regaining ground control. The former NCAA Champion then tried a kimura of his own but eventually maneuvered back into side control. As the final seconds rolled off the round, Konrad grinded out the points by maintaining the upper hand.
Konrad quickly pounced on Grabowski on the start of the third frame, taking him down after issuing a leg sweep. He rolled into the full mount while Grabowski worked from the bottom in a closed guard. The Polish heavyweight began to fire from the bottom, but his disadvantage decreased the power of his strikes. The referee once again stood them up around the 3:30 mark, which followed by a short delay for Grabowski to re-tape his gloves. When the action resumed, Grabowski nearly got the takedown after shooting on his opponent. He then went for a guillotine attempt, but Konrad was able to prevent him from fully applying the submission attempt. At the midway point, the two fighters went into the clinch before Konrad again slammed his counterpart to the canvas. After slow action on the floor, the referee again stood them up, but Konrad quickly returned the fight to the ground. He then just rode out the win by maintaining side control.
“He actually came out with a lot more speed than I was anticipating,” Konrad said of Grabowski in the third round. “I kind of burnt myself out a little bit in the first and second round, and that’s just something I’m going to have to go back and fix because that’s not acceptable.”
When the judges’ score cards were pulled after the third round, Konrad took the unanimous decision by counts of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27.