Khasbulaev, Marshall, Cooper, Richman Advance to Tournament Finals at Bellator 92

By Brian Knapp Mar 7, 2013
Magomedrasul Khasbulaev wrecked Marlon Sandro at Bellator 92. | Photo: Dave Mandel/

The man they call “Frodo” broke down Marlon Sandro’s body and waited for the spirit to follow suit.

Magomedrasul Khasbulaev dispatched the former Sengoku champion with third-round ground-and-pound in the Bellator MMA Season 8 featherweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 92 on Thursday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. Sandro (24-5, 7-3 Bellator) succumbed to the accumulation of blows 2:38 into round three.

A winner in eight consecutive bouts, Khasbulaev (20-5, 4-0 Bellator) was unyielding, as he bombarded the Brazilian with takedowns, heavy ground-and-pound and a wide array of aggressive submission attempts. Not even a brutal low blow in the first round could calm his fury for long.

Sandro saw his best chance at victory come and go in the second round, where his Russian adversary withstood a tight arm-triangle choke. In between rounds two and three, Sandro was slow to rise from his stool and it became clear he was a spent force. Khasbulaev struck for an immediate takedown in the third round and buried his fading foe with punches and hammerfists.

Photo: Dave Mandel/

Marshall handed Aliev his first loss.

Controversial Decision Advances Marshall

Former World Extreme Cagefighting titleholder Doug Marshall escaped with a controversial split decision over the previously unbeaten Sultan Aliev in the Bellator Season 8 middleweight tournament semifinals.

Two of the three cageside judges -- Mike Beltran and Jackie Denkin -- saw it for Marshall by 29-28 scores; a third, Lester Griffin, levied a 30-27 verdict in favor of Aliev (9-1, 1-1 Bellator).

Marshall (17-6, 3-0 Bellator) advanced despite spending much of the 15-minute bout either on his back or swinging at air, victimized by repeated takedowns and a suffocating top game from the two-time combat sambo world champion. However, the 36-year-old Californian delivered the two most decisive blows of the match: a second-round head kick that staggered Aliev and a standing-to-ground right hand in round three that may have cemented his victory.

“He was a whole lot better wrestler than I gave him credit for,” Marshall said. “He hit like a little girl, but he hit me about 800 times, so it kind of built up.”

Cooper Comeback Stuns Cramer

Photo: D. Mandel/

Cooper rallied to shock the UFC veteran.
Kings MMA representative Brett Cooper put away Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Dan Cramer with third-round punches for a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Bellator Season 8 middleweight tournament semifinals. Cooper (19-7, 5-2 Bellator) finished it 3:19 into round three, posting his sixth consecutive win.

Stiff straight punches, airtight takedown defense and some effective knees from the Thai plum spurred Cramer (10-4, 7-2 Bellator) to a two-rounds-to-none lead. However, his advantage did not hold.

Cooper finally secured a takedown in round three before turning up the heat on the feet. He blasted Cramer with a wicked right uppercut, re-established his range and sealed the deal with a pair of straight rights against the cage. The American Top Team export stumbled forward in a defenseless daze, forcing referee “Big” John McCarthy to intervene on his behalf.

Split Verdict for Richman Eliminates Bezerra

Photo: D. Mandel/

Richman slipped by to win by split decision.
Crisp, clean punching carried Mike Richman to a split verdict over Alexandre Bezerra in the Bellator Season 8 featherweight tournament semifinals. Two of the three judges -- Mike Beltran and Jackie Denkin -- scored it for Richman (15-2, 4-1 Bellator); a third, Lester Griffin, cast a dissenting nod in favor of Bezerra.

Richman withstood a rough first round, as the Brazilian struck for a takedown, moved to full mount and eventually transitioned to his back. Once there, Bezerra (15-3, 7-2 Bellator) confined “The Marine” to a body triangle while he fished for a rear-naked choke.

His advances were denied, and the Minnesotan lived to see a second round.

Rounds two and three favored Richman, as he peppered Bezerra with a relentless stream of right jabs and left crosses and bloodied his face with volume, power and accuracy. The Brazilian nearly turned the tide late in the third round with another takedown and follow-up choke attempts, but Richman returned to his feet and picked up where he left off.

Stepanyan Stops Saunders; Berry Kimura Submits Rigmaden

Photo: D. Mandel/

Miller dominated Smith for 15 minutes.
In preliminary action, Akop Stepanyan (13-5, 1-2 Bellator) stopped “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 alum Chris Saunders (9-5, 0-2 Bellator) with a body kick and follow-up punches 3:55 into round three of their lightweight scrap; Strikeforce veteran Keith Berry (14-10, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Richard Rigmaden (2-4, 0-1 Bellator) with a kimura 91 seconds into the first round of their middleweight encounter; Josh Appelt (10-2, 3-0 Bellator) benefitted from three foul-related point deductions and captured a one-sided unanimous verdict from Manny Lara (4-3, 0-2 Bellator), sweeping the scorecards in their heavyweight tilt by matching 30-24 counts; King of the Cage alum Aaron Miller (14-8, 1-0 Bellator) defeated featherweight journeyman Shad Smith (12-17-2, 0-1 Bellator) by unanimous decision, earning 30-27 marks from all three judges; and Empire Training Center featherweight Brandon Halsey (3-0, 1-0 Bellator) remained undefeated, as he rendered Rocky Ramirez (4-4-1, 0-1 Bellator) unconscious with an arm-triangle choke 50 seconds into the third round.

Photo: D. Mandel/

Piedmont laid out Luciano early in round one.

Postlims: Piedmont, Legere Jr. Score Finishes

Nick Piedmont took out Cleber Luciano with a right cross at 55 seconds of round one to claim victory in a featherweight bout and welterweight prospect Ricky Legere Jr. used a rear-naked choke to put away Sabah Homasi at 2:52 of the second period.


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