Curran, Sandro Advance to Bellator Final

By Brian Knapp and Al Quintero Jul 23, 2011
Pat Curran (right) advanced to face Marlon Sandro in the finals of Bellator's featherweight tournament.

Pat Curran fought at his typically measured pace and paved his road to the Bellator Fighting Championships Summer Series featherweight tournament final one figurative brick at a time.

Curran (15-4, 5-1 BFC) countered effectively, dictated when and where the exchanges took place and controlled the cage en route to a unanimous decision over Ronnie Mann in the Bellator 47 headliner on Saturday at the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada. All three judges scored the semifinal for Curran: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.

A potent offensive fighter blessed with speed and power, Mann (20-4-1, 2-1 BFC) never got out of the gates. Curran bullied him around the cage with tactical movement and fired a number of flying knees his way. Few landed, but they backed up the Englishman and short-circuited his rhythm. Curran scored with a takedown late in the first round, passed to half guard and nullified Mann’s bottom game.

Mann’s moments were too few and far between to make a difference. He threatened Curran with a guillotine choke in the second round, only to run out of time. Curran unleashed a few leg kicks in round three, but Mann finally countered one of his flying knees in the closing seconds. He transitioned to Curran’s back and tried desperately to score the submission, first with a rear-naked choke and then with a guillotine. Neither was successful.

A. Quintero

Sandro (right) beat up Malegarie.
Sandro’s Skills Too Much for Malegarie

The world-ranked Marlon Sandro secured his place in the Bellator Fighting Championships Summer Series featherweight tournament final with a unanimous decision against Nazareno Malegarie in the co-main event. Sandro (19-2, 2-0 BFC) swept the semifinal scorecards by matching 30-27 counts.

Malegarie (20-2, 1-2 BFC) had no answer for the power and precision of the Brazilian, as combinations from the former Sengoku Raiden Championship titleholder left him damaged and bewildered. Sandro unveiled other aspects of his repertoire in the second round, as he delivered three takedowns and a flying knee.

Malegarie tried and failed more than once to get the fight on the ground, where his considerable grappling skills might have leveled the playing field a bit.

Uppercuts, jabs, left hooks and counter right hands all found their marks for Sandro in the third round, as the 34-year-old Nova Uniao standout won for the fifth time in six fights.

Horodecki Wins Unanimous Verdict
A. Quintero

Horodecki (left) outdueled Saunders.

Takedowns, stifling top control and ground-and-pound carried 2007 International Fight League lightweight grand prix finalist Chris Horodecki to a unanimous decision over Chris Saunders in a 155-pound showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Horodecki, who has posted four wins in his last five outings.

Horodecki (18-3, 1-0 BFC) secured multiple takedowns in all three rounds, passed to half guard, side control and full mount and proved to be the superior fighter on the feet, as well. He capitalized on Saunders’ miscues when presented with them and did nothing to disappoint the partisan crowd.

An Ontario native and Shawn Tompkins protégé, Horodecki put an exclamation point on the victory late in the third round, as he moved into full mount with 45 seconds to go and tagged Saunders (9-2, 0-1 BFC) with short elbows and punches. The defeat snapped Saunders’ seven-fight winning streak.

A. Quintero

Grove (top) blasted Jensen.
Grove Batters Jensen En Route to TKO

London-based South African Neil Grove took out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 alum Zak Jensen with a series of brutal first-round elbows, forearms, punches and hammerfists on the ground in a featured heavyweight duel. The end to the action-packed scrap came 2:00 into round one.

Jensen dropped Grove during an initial exchange between the two but surrendered dominant position and wound up underneath the 6-foot-6, 265-pound UFC veteran. The fight remained on the canvas the rest of the way.

The 40-year-old Grove (11-3-1, 3-1 BFC) pelted his foe with heavy shots from inside an open guard, leaned back for an ankle lock, traded seated punches and returned to top position. From there, he again battered Jensen (10-7, 0-1 BFC), who finally wilted under the onslaught.

“I’ve been training really hard here in America,” Grove said. “I’ve spent a lot of time away from home. He hit me with a couple of hard shots. I’m learning what to do on the ground, and I made use of it.”
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