Michael Chandler earned a title shot against Eddie Alvarez by defeating Patricky Pitbull in the Bellator Lightweight Tournament Finals (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
Gemiyale Adkins (6-2) vs. Jay Silva (7-4)
Silva owned a significant height advantage in this fight, and he looked to use that range to initially keep Adkins at bay. However, the action mostly took place on the canvas of the Bellator cage, with Silva maintaining control throughout the three rounds. He continually used a series of well-placed knees and strikes to the head of Adkins, but no significant submission attempts were made despite his dominating position. After 15 minutes elapsed, Silva rolled to a unanimous decision victory after winning all three frames on each of the judges’ score cards.
Jeff Lentz (7-3) vs. Anthony Leone (8-3)
In a very entertaining affair, these two energetic fighters mixed in some heavy stand-up exchanges with a seesaw ground battle, but Lentz appeared to wear down Leone as the action unfolded. When the opportunity presented itself, Lentz hyped up the Atlantic City crowd, and he seemed to use that momentum to garner the advantage over the final two rounds of the match. He landed his most damaging blow in the third frame when he struck Leone to the side of the head with a front kick, and he worked himself into ground control after Leone immediately pawed at his eye. He kept the action on the canvas once he gained that advantage, eventually pulling out a tight unanimous decision win by three counts of 29-28.
Brett Cooper (12-6) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (39-7)
The TV broadcast started in spectacular fashion, with Cooper and Shlemenko putting on a show. The majority of the action was from the stand-up position, and some heavy striking came from the hands of both fighters. Neither man backed down from the other, which led to an extremely entertaining toe-to-toe encounter. On occasion, Cooper looked to make it a grappling battle, but Shlemenko was not interested and regularly let his opposition return to his feet when he tried to lure him to the ground. He eventually finished off the match with a series of spinning back fists in the final round of action, effectively landing the strikes on multiple attempts. While the bout was tight over the 15 minutes, Shlemenko appeared to get the better of the exchanges and would turn in a unanimous decision victory when the judges scored it 30-27, 30-28 and 29-28 in his favor.
Sam Oropeza (4-2) vs Giedrus Karavackas (5-1)
In the local feature of the card, Philadelphia’s Sam Oropeza took on Atlantic City’s Giedrus Karavackas, with Oropeza having a commanding edge in crowd support that included Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. Oropeza initially fed off the energy of his supporters, while Karavackas did a nice job of channeling our their chants and screams in the cage. Oropeza did finish off the first two rounds in the top position and firing to the head of his opposition, but Karavackas was able to survive in both frames. When the final round of action got underway, Karavackas got the battle to the ground quickly and worked himself into an extremely advantageous position. He applied a neck lock on Oropeza with his right hand and repeatedly struck him with his left hand by the bunches. Karavackas was eventually able to work his opponent into an arm lock in the latter portion of the round, forcing a tap out by Oropeza at the 3:59 mark. The win was his fifth overall, all of which have come by means of submission.
Hector Lombard (29-2-1) vs. Falaniko Vitale (29-10)
The first two rounds in this non-title affair were pretty uneventful, and the crowd was letting the two fighters know it as they poured in their displeasure. The third round finally showed fight fans what they expect from Lombard, which is his dominating power. Early in the frame, Vitale fainted in and ducked his head, and Lombard quickly grabbed it with his left hand and then immediately dropped Vitale with a perfectly placed right hand. Vitale initially tried to return to his feet, but a complete loss of equilibrium caused him to fall right back to the canvas. Referee Dan Miragliotta then stepped in and called the fight just 54 seconds into the final round. Lombard, the reigning Bellator Middleweight Champion, showed complete poise and professionalism after the blow, knowing that Vitale was out and not pouncing on him to cause unnecessary damage.
Michael Chandler (8-0) vs. Patricky Pitbull (9-2)
In the final match of the Bellator Lightweight Tournament, these two competitors put on a great performance for the fans in attendance and watching on MTV2. The duo had some great stand-up exchanges throughout the three rounds, with both showing heavy hands and strong chins. Chandler seemed to be getting the better of the action, but he was dealt a serious setback in the third frame when he was deducted a point for a second low blow. However, he had a pair of huge slams that likely gained him the point back, and he had Pitbull on edge in the final minutes of the round when he was firing some damaging strikes and elbows from the top position. Pitbull would survive, but Chandler eventually earned a title shot against Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez after scoring straight 29-27’s from the cageside judges.
Randy Smith (11-9-1) vs. Jamall Johnson (3-1)
In the final match of the evening, these two heavyweights battled it out in a seesaw match. Smith was much heavier than Johnson, but his looks were deceiving. He had a great chin and dealt some nice strikes, but his takedown defense is where he was vulnerable. In the second round, Johnson scored a takedown after shooting and gained back control. He then fell into a rear naked choke and forced the tap out at 4:16 to end an entertaining evening of fights.
ResVideo: Bellator 44 Post-Press Conference