They brought a stretcher into the cage for Jared Hess, even though he was wide awake. It was not a good sign.
Hess suffered what appeared to be a dislocated knee in his 2010 Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight tournament semifinal against EliteXC veteran Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 20 on Thursday at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. The gruesome injury, sustained when Hess buckled from an ideally timed Shlemenko knee, ended the match 2:20 into round three.
Empowered by superior wrestling and grappling, Hess appeared to have the first two rounds in the bank. In the third, Shlemenko landed the crippling knee, which sent Hess crashing down awkwardly on his leg. Amazingly, the injured 2009 tournament finalist stayed in the fight until Shlemenko backed away from an ensuing scramble and invited him to stand. Hess could not, and the bout was halted on the spot.
The Siberia-based Shlemenko, 26, has won 14 of his past 15 fights. He will face once-beaten World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Bryan Baker -- a first-round submission winner against Eric Schambari -- in the tournament final.
Baker coaxed a tapout from Schambari with a triangle choke 2:29 into the match, as he won for the seventh time in as many appearances. The 24-year-old judo black belt absorbed an early takedown from Schambari, worked from his back and locked in the choke. Schambari fought valiantly to free himself, but Baker tightened his grip as his opponent postured and left him no choice but unconditional surrender.
“I knew he was going to come out and try and take me down,” said Baker, who also defeated Schambari by split decision at WEC 31 in December 2007. “He’s a strong dude. On the ground, I knew I had evolved my game to where I could finish it.”
In a non-tournament heavyweight matchup, UFC veteran Eddie Sanchez turned the tables on Marcus Sursa and powered his way to a technical knockout 23 seconds into round three. Nearly stopped by a second-round right hand, Sanchez has pieced together a four-fight winning streak since being released by the UFC in December 2008.
His path to victory against Sursa proved perilous. After the two heavyweights battled to a virtual standstill in the first round, Sursa christened the second with a straight right hand that crumpled Sanchez. The 27-year-old Duke Roufus protégé threatened to finish Sanchez with ground strikes but surrendered dominant position with a failed guillotine choke attempt. Sanchez recovered and, by the end of the round, had Sursa mounted and under fire.
“He caught me pretty good,” Sanchez said. “I came back, though. I have a tough chin. I knew if I just hung in there I’d finish it off.”
Visibly exhausted and bleeding from one of his ears, Sursa had nothing to offer in the third round. Sanchez landed a heavy body shot, bullied his foe to the mat and moved immediately to mount. From there, he let the punches fly until the referee intervened.
Finally, Nick Mamalis stunned EliteXC veteran Mark Oshiro, as he submitted the Hawaiian with a second-round rear-naked choke. The end came 1:29 into round two. Signed to compete in the forthcoming 2010 Bellator bantamweight tournament, Oshiro entered his promotional debut with wins in eight of his last nine fights. He had never before been finished.
“I’m never the underdog in my eyes,” said Mamalis, who took the opportunity to campaign for a spot in the promotion’s 135-pound draw. “I want in [the tournament]. Give me my spot.”
Andrew Chappelle def. Cedric Marks -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 3:18 R2
Jimmy Flick def. Humberto DeLeon -- Unanimous Decision
Fernando Rodriguez def. Kenneth Battle -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 1:28 R2
Aaron Rosa def. Robert Villegas -- Unanimous Decision
Adam Schindler def. Brian Melancon -- Unanimous Decision