MMAFrenzy’s coverage of Bellator 97 continues with our Bellator 97 play-by-play. Tonight’s card will be headlined by a pair of title fights featuring Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler taking on David Rickels and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren taking on Andrey Koreshkov.
Bellator 97 Play-by-Play
Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Final: Ryan Martinez vs. Vitaly Minakov
Rd. 1- Touch of gloves and we’re off. Minakov seizes control of the clinch off the bat. Big knee by Minakov as he tries to land an outside trip but Martinez gets away with a blatant cage grab to stay up (he is warned late but a point deduction would have been ok). Martinez trips up Minakov but he evades and gets back up. Minakov with an inside trip and lands some punches. Big right on the exit. Huge left by Martinez as they break. Knees by both fighters. Minakov has the clinch and lands a nice elbow on the exit. Nice right by Minakov. Minakov seizes the clinch again and lands a knee with 1:15 left. Pace is slowing after a quick start. Minakov with a telegraphed shot with 0:15 left. MMAFrenzy has it 10-9 Minakov.
Rd. 2- Nice combination by Minakov is answered by Martinez. Minakov with another nice combo that turns Martinez’s nose into a faucet. Big shots by Minakov in the clinch. Accidental knee to the groin by Minakov and we have a break. The referee decides to take a point in one of the worst decisions I have ever seen in years of covering this sport. Horrible. Fighters pace is slowed now and Minakov is looking to land while Martinez tries to counter. Martinez gets caught by a stiff left on the way in. Nice counter left by Martinez is answered by Minakov. Right by Minakov as Martinez is really sitting back and just looking to counter. Weak shot attempt by Minakov. Another Takedown attempt by Minakov with 0:15 left and that ends the fight on the cage. MMAFrenzy has it 9-9 due to the horrendous deduction (19-18).
Rd. 3- Minakov comes swinging cautiously. Martinez is trying to make him chase. Stiff right by Minakov. Nice left by Martinez is answered by a great knee from Minakov. Driving takedown by Minakov. Big shots by Minakov as he postures up. Martinez pushes him away but it’s a mistake as Minakov uses it to take his back. Martinez gives up mount and he’s taking damage now. Minakov is landing smartly paced shots here. Massive shots now and Martinez is just done.
Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez via TKO (strikes) at 4:02 of Round 3
Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Jacob Noe
Rd. 1- Touch of gloves is a bit surprising here. Noe landing outside leg kicks but Mo lands an easy takedown to side control. Big lefts here. Noe works up but Lawal puts him down again. Noe is up again briefly but back down as he gets away with a cage grab. Big knee to the body by Mo and he backs off. Slow combo by Noe is blocked and Lawal drops him with a blast double leg. Mo is teeing off now but Noe tries to tie him up in half guard. More lefts by Mo here. Fans start booing but Mo is controlling and teeing off with lefts to the head and body. Noe is clearly struggling to breathe here as well. Mo lets go of the seatbelt grip and Noe tries to work up. Big knee to the chest by Lawal as the round ends. MMAFrenzy has it 10-8 Lawal.
Rd. 2- Legkicks by Noe to start the round. Nice overhand right to a takedown by Mo. Noe tries a terrible guillotine as Mo ties up his arm. Noe is trying to be active off his back now. Mo is now landing hammerfists and body shots now. Noe tries for an armbar but it’s never close. Body-head-body seems to be Mo’s MO right now. Noe is clearly exhausted as Mo picks his shots. More big lefts by Mo here from halfguard. Round ends with Lawal in total control. MMAFrenzy has it 10-8 Lawal (20-16).
Rd. 3- More kicks by Noe again but he is taken down again less than 0:30 into the round. Mo pops Noe’s mouse and his face is a mess. Big knee to the body by Mo as he lets Noe up. Mo with a massive left and right to a battered Noe. A few hard punches by Mo and referee Jason Herzog mercifully stops the fight.
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal def. Jacob Noe via verbal submission (strikes) at 2:51 of Round 3
Bellator Welterweight World Title Fight: Ben Askren vs. Andrey Koreschkov
Rd. 1- Nice sprawl by Koreshkov but Askren utilizes a beautiful double unders takedown to get him down. Near-side cradle to an arm-in guillotine by Askren but he lets it go and gets back on top quickly. Askren is now in back mount and lands some shots. He is in total control of this fight now. Askren tries a RNC but cannot finish so he goes back to strikes. Askren back in a front-head lock to pass behind again. Askren looks bored as he just waits out the round on his back. MMAFrenzy has it 10-8 Askren.
Rd. 2- Koreshkov sprawls effectively at first but gets taken down in the ensuing scramble by the funky one. Askren has his back and is just landing punches and looking for submissions. Askren is just dominating Koreshov with a gorgeous back ride. Suckback into side control by Askren now. Askren establishes Salaverry position a few times and lands more strikes. He now has it more established and lands more strikes as the round ends.
Rd. 3- Askren with an easy takedown and he gets the mount and lands more and more strikes. Askren digs for an RNC and a neck crank but bails on them to gab a hammerlock and take mount. More strikes by Askren. Koreshkov is wearing a lot of damage on his face. Koreshkov tries to roll out but its to no avail. Askren lands more strikes and plays it up to the camera as the round ends. MMAFrenzy has it 30-24 Askren.
Rd. 4- Koreshkov again with a good initial sprawl but Askren passes it easily. Askren with an arm-triangle attempt but does not finish and goes back to work. Askren is dominating him to the point where it is now sad. Askren asks the referee how many times he has to hit him to make the fight stop and he starts punching. Koreshkov is doing just enough to keep the bout from being called. Herzog has seen enough though and he calls it.
Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreshkov via TKO (strikes) at 2:58 of Round 4
Bellator Lightweight World Title Fight: Michael Chandler vs. David Rickels
Rd. 1- Rickels using legkicks to start off the fight. Chandler is landing a left jab with ease. Nasty jab to a right counter strike by Chandler and Rickels drops. Chandler swarms and annihilates Rickels to end the fight. Wow.
Michael Chandler def. David Rickels via KO (strikes) at 0:44 of Round 1