Former Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander “The Storm” Shlemenko (52-9) made quick work of his opponent with a dominating second-round knockout over Dutch striking ace Melvin Manhoef (29-13-1) in front of a near-capacity crowd at Save Mart Center at tonight’s “Bellator: Manhoef vs. Shlemenko” event which aired LIVE and FREE on SPIKE TV.
With Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, and often-successful spinning backfist utilizer Emanuel Newton in the crowd, Shlemenko borrowed a page from his playbook and attempted several spinning fist and kick attacks throughout the first frame.
When the second round started, Shlemenko stuck to that same game plan, and connected his spinning forearm flush with the jaw of Manhoef, sending him tumbling to the canvas. The hungry Russian native left nothing to chance and landed another strike before “Big” John McCarthy pushed him off declaring him the winner at 1:25 of round 2.
“I hope Bellator heard me and will let me correct the mistake I made in the past and will give me the opportunity to fight for the Bellator Middleweight World Championship against Brandon Halsey.”
Former Featherweight Champion Pat Curran’s road back to the top of the talented division hit a road block against Featherweight Tournament winner Daniel Weichel of Germany. The two fighters wasted no time teeing off with crisp punches and accurate kicks, keeping the fight standing for a majority of the first frame. Weichel swept the leg of the former champ, who quickly bounced back to his feet and got right back into the mix. Both fighters finished the final seconds of round one with a flurry of punches that drew loud applause from the Fresno crowd.
Curran began the second round with a visible cut over his left eye. After spending most of the round on their feet, Curran rushed Weichel and scored a takedown, where he imposed his will on Weichel for the final minute, likely winning him the round.
The third round featured a continuation of the exciting slugfest with Curran attempting to score another takedown in the third, but the German fighter stuffed the attempt, briefly tried to work on a choke and then disengaged to finish the fight on his feet. At the end of 15 minutes, Weichel emerged victorious by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
“Curran has achieved so much in Bellator and it was quite an honor to fight him. Tonight I proved that I belong here. I told the world that I am coming for the title shot and to claim the belt.”
Julia Budd (7-2) and Gabrielle Holloway (4-2) marked the first Bellator Women’s fight of the year. Budd, the Canadian Muay Thai specialist showed a well-rounded skill-set throughout the fight overpowering Holloway, who took the fight on short notice. Budd worked well from the clinch, utilized several knee strikes and connected with a straight right hand in the closing seconds of round one. Holloway showed great poise throughout, and worked Budd with a takedown to open the third round, however Budd was able to transition into an armbar attempt, and ultimately worked her way to Holloways’ back and grinded out a dominant unanimous decision scored 30-26, 30-25 and 30-24.
“I’m really disappointed I didn’t get the knockout,” said Budd. “I was hoping to get on my feet and keep it standing or finish it on the ground, but she controlled my wrists and I couldn’t get my hands free to finish it.
“She turtled the entire time so I couldn’t elbow and posture up and strike like I wanted to, but it’s definitely something I’m goinvg to work on for the next fight.”
In the nights opening fight, it was a battle of two highly accomplished wrestlers in Chris Honeycutt, a two-time D1 All-American and Clayton MacFarlane, a D2 National Champion. With the vocal hometown crown behind him, Honeycutt came out of the gates strong and utilized masterful ground control and precision striking throughout the first two rounds. The highly regarded welterweight prospect Honeycutt exhibited great strength at points, tossing MacFarlane to the ground. MacFarlane opened the third frame with a takedown, but Honeycutt regained control, took his opponents back and rained down strikes to MacFarlane’s body. MacFarlane, now 4-1, was unable to protect himself from the body blows, and referee Jason Herzog stopped the fight at 4:16 of the third round.
“I got the Victory, but would’ve liked to have received the TKO in an earlier round,” said Honeycutt, who improves his record to 6-0 with the TKO victory.
About Bellator MMA
Bellator MMA is a leading Mixed Martial Arts organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, Bellator is available to nearly 500 million homes worldwide in over 140 countries. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on Spike TV, the MMA television leader. Bellator MMA is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Santa Monica, California and owned by entertainment giant Viacom, home to the world’s premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.