Bellator 56 took place tonight (Saturday) at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas and was headlined by a welterweight clash between champion Ben Askren and Jay Hieron. Hieron gave Askren everything he could handle but the champion responded and managed to edge out a narrow victory.
Also on the card, the Season 5 heavyweight final was set as Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos won their fights in decisive fashion.
Askren narrowly edges Hieron
Long-time MMA veteran Jay Hieron was expected to be the biggest challenge in Ben Askren’s career and he lived up to the billing. Hieron made Askren work for every takedown he got and exposed the champions evolving striking game. With that said, when Askren did secure takedowns he was firmly in control and showed good ground and pound with solid ground control.
Hieron missed a golden opportunity in the 5th when he had Askren reeling from hard strikes and danced like he had won the fight rather than following up. While some have called the split decision a “robbery,” Hieron missed several follow-up opportunities that could have swung the fight in his favor. Anytime when the scores from judges and sites are consistently 48-47 with alternating winners, it is hard to argue anyone was robbed.
Santos Crushes Grove
Thiago Santos made quick work of Bellator favorite Neil Grove utilizing powerful strikes to set up a suffocating choke of the South African. Santos was an original entrant into the tournament before visa issues kept him from fighting in the first round. Santos resolved his issues and won entrance into the tournament by defeating Josh Burns on short notice. Santos, who replaced an injured Mike Hayes, moves on to the finals.
Prindle demolishes Sparks
Eric Prindle made short work of the previously undefeated Ron Sparks. The former-US Army boxer countered a leg kick from Sparks with a beautiful left that knocked Sparks unconscious. Prindle followed up with two unneeded shots before the referee jumped in. Prindle advances to the finals where he will face Thiago Santos in the final.
MAIN CARD (MTV2)
- Welterweight title fight – Ben Askren (c) defeats Jay Hieron via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)
- Heavyweight Semifinal – Thiago Santos defeats Neil Grove via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 0:38
- Heavyweight Semifinal – Eric Prindle defeats Ron Sparks via KO (punch) – Round 1, 0:40
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com)
- Jeremy Spoon defeats Adam Schindler via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Marcio Navarro defeats Rudy Bears by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Kelvin Tiller defeats Dan Spohn via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Emanuel “E.J.” Brooks defeats William de Souza via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- Jacob Aiken defeats Jeimeson Saudino via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:26
- Aaron Ely defeats Owen Evinger via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:45
- Daniel Gallemore defeats Derrick Ruffin via TKO (retirement) – Round 2, 5:00