Blagoi Ivanov punched his ticket to the finals at Bellator 116. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Blagoi Ivanov used his strengths to exploit Lavar Johnson’s weaknesses.
Ivanov submitted Johnson with a first-round keylock in the Bellator MMA Season 10 heavyweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 116 on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. Johnson (18-9, 1-2 Bellator) asked out of the fight 4:08 into round one, as he lost for the fourth time in his past five outings.
A 2008 World Sambo Championships gold medalist who survived a near-fatal stabbing a little more than two years ago, Ivanov (11-0, 6-0 Bellator) withstood a few awkward moments on the feet with the heavy-handed American. The 27-year-old scored with a head-and-arm throw, isolated Johnson’s arm and cinched the keylock for the submission.
“I feel amazing -- great,” Ivanov said. “Thanks to God, because I’m here. I want to thank my friends and family and coaches.”
Beltran Choke Submits Retiring Matyushenko
Joey Beltran submitted former International Fight League champion Vladimir Matyushenko with a third-round North-South choke in a light heavyweight showcase. Matyushenko (27-8, 1-1 Bellator), who announced his plans to retire prior to the event, conceded defeat 3:06 into round three.
Matyushenko kept the “Mexecutioner” at bay with a stiff jab and a series of straight rights for the better part of 10 minutes, but the 43-year-old Belarusian ran out of gas. Beltran piled up the punches in round three, forcing “The Janitor” to dive on a takedown out of desperation.
An effective sprawl left a battered, bloodied and fatigued Matyushenko on the bottom, hopelessly trapped in the choke. The tapout followed a brief struggle.
“I thought the first round could have gone either way,” Beltran said. “I knew he got the second round, so I knew I had to come out strong and at least dominate the round.”
Matyushenko, who debuted in September 1997, calls it a career after 35 professional appearances.
“I guess it’s time,” he said. “I’m putting my gloves here. I want to thank all the fans for the longtime support. I also want to thank all the fighters I’ve fought and trained with. It was a big honor to be a part of this brotherhood.”
McDonough Stops Coy, Advances to Final
Adam McDonough knocked out American Top Team’s Nathan Coy with a left hook in the second round of their Season 10 welterweight tournament semifinal. Coy (14-5, 2-1 Bellator) succumbed to an accumulation of punishment -- the left hook was the last straw -- 30 seconds into round two.
McDonough (11-0, 3-0 Bellator) withstood the onetime Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder’s initial rush and bided his time. The 28-year-old Minnesotan wobbled Coy with a right uppercut in the opening frame and nearly finished him with an ensuing barrage of ground strikes.
Though the fight progressed to a second round, the damage had been done.
Early in round two, McDonough zapped his still-unsteady counterpart with a straight left, closed the distance and uncorked a clean left hook for the finish.
“Nate Coy in my opinion is one of the most underrated welterweights in the world,” McDonough said. “I knew he was tough and resilient, and he’s been in there with some of the best. I was just going to keep my composure and go from there. We watched a lot of video. We knew that left hand was there, so we drilled it, and that baby was on point tonight.”
McDonough will face the winner of the forthcoming Bellator 118 matchup between Andrey Koreshkov and Sam Oropeza in the tournament final.
Volkov Head Kick KOs ‘Mighty Mo’Former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov knocked out Siala-Mou Siliga with a first-round head kick in the Season 10 heavyweight tournament semifinals. Volkov (21-4, 5-1 Bellator) sealed the deal 2:44 into round one, as he won for the 12th time in 13 appearances.
Siliga (6-3, 3-1 Bellator) tried and failed to stifle the lanky Russian in the clinch. After a referee restart, Volkov cracked “Mighty Mo” with a knee, followed with a short right uppercut and then connected with the fight-ending kick.
Foot met face, and an unconscious Siliga fell backward, his head bouncing off the canvas.
“It was the exact kick that we worked on,” Volkov said.
Prelims: Parisyan Stuns Keslar in Second
Karo Parisyan (23-10, 1-1 Bellator) put away the American Kickboxing Academy’s Ron Keslar (11-6, 2-2 Bellator) with punches 4:05 into the second round of their welterweight tilt; Brandon Halsey (6-0, 4-0 Bellator) took a unanimous decision over Joe Pacheco (7-2, 2-2 Bellator) in the Season 10 middleweight tournament semifinals, securing 30-27 nods from all three judges; “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 graduate Robert Emerson (16-10, 2-0 Bellator) captured a unanimous verdict from Joe Taimanglo (19-6-1, 2-2 Bellator), sweeping the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks in their bantamweight encounter; Renegade Fighting Systems export Ricky Rainey (7-2, 1-0 Bellator)
stopped Andy Murad (6-2, 0-2 Bellator) with punches 71 seconds into round one of their 180-pound catchweight affair; unbeaten Brazilian Luis Philipe Lins (8-0, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Travis Clark (7-3, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 40 seconds into the first round of their clash at 205 pounds; UFC veteran Rodney Wallace (20-8, 1-0 Bellator) picked up a unanimous decision over Carlos Eduardo (11-3, 1-1 Bellator) in their light heavyweight scrap, earning 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores from the judges; Brandon Bender (12-1, 2-1 Bellator) submitted Mario Navarro (4-4, 1-2 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 4:15 into the second round of their featherweight tussle; Poppies Martinez (29-9, 1-1 Bellator) submitted Josh Smith (9-7, 1-1 Bellator) with a guillotine choke 3:50 into round one of their lightweight match; and Dave Vitkay (14-12-1, 3-0 Bellator) registered a unanimous decision over Keith Berry (15-13, 2-3 Bellator) at 185 pounds, taking 29-28 scores from all three judges.