Cheick Kongo made his Bellator debut memorable. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Cheick Kongo seems to like his new home.
The French kickboxer brutalized Mark Godbeer with a series of knee strikes to the body and head in the Bellator MMA Season 9 heavyweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 102 on Friday at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, Calif. Godbeer (8-2, 0-1) succumbed to the blows 2:04 into round two.
In his first appearance outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship in nearly nine years, Kongo (19-8-2, 1-0 Bellator) wore down the Englishman with takedowns and clinches. In the second round, the 38-year-old ducked into the rear waistlock position and attacked Godbeer with knees to the quadriceps and hamstrings. From there, the knees only grew in intensity. Kongo pinned the Trojan Freefighters representative on the cage, targeted his head and body and fired away until referee “Big” John McCarthy intervened.
“I heard my cornerman tell me to knee him everywhere,” Kongo said. “I threw my knee, and I hurt him.”
‘Spartan’ Dispatches Johnson in 23 Seconds
Team Nogueira’s Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz knocked out Lavar Johnson with a blinding but brutal right hand in the Season 9 heavyweight tournament semifinals. De Queiroz (7-3, 2-1 Bellator) wiped out the monstrous Californian 23 seconds into round one, as he recorded the sixth first-round finish of his 10-fight career.
Moving backward, “Spartan” countered a jab with a right cross to Johnson’s jaw, sending him to the canvas in a face-first dive. A few follow-up blows awakened Johnson (17-8, 0-1 Bellator) from his brief slumber, and though he protested the stoppage, he did not have much of a case.
“I came in here to try and take him out because I know he has very heavy hands,” de Queiroz said. “I have a lot of respect for the guy.”
Silva Outgrapples, Outpoints Leone
Renovacao Fight Team export Rafael Silva cruised to his 13th consecutive win, as he took a unanimous decision from World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Anthony Leone in the Summer Series bantamweight tournament final. Silva (21-3, 2-0 Bellator) swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 marks, earning a $100,000 payday and a crack at reigning Bellator 135-pound champion Eduardo Dantas.
Takedowns and a stifling takedown fueled the Brazilian’s latest conquest, as he repeatedly grounded Leone (13-6, 3-3 Bellator), transitioning to his back in each of the first two rounds.
The American’s offense was limited to occasional overhand rights. His final burst was snuffed out late in round three, where Silva countered a takedown with an immediate reversal and settled back in top position.
Danish Prospect Parlo Decisions Butcher
Powerful punching combinations and an effective sprawl carried Danish prospect Mikkel Parlo to a unanimous verdict over Jason Butcher in the Season 9 middleweight tournament semifinals. All three cageside judges scored it for Parlo (11-1, 3-1 Bellator): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Butcher (7-1, 4-1 Bellator) never got in gear, his 23-year-old counterpart denying his advances at every turn. Parlo did his best work in the second round, where he bloodied the West Virginian’s nose, shut down his takedown attempts and nearly finished him with a punishing volley in the closing seconds.
Needing a stoppage, Butcher did not have enough in the tank to pursue the victory in round three.
“I would like to have finished him,” Parlo said. “It was hard because he was running a lot.”
Ward Guillotine Submits Pacheco
Brennan Ward submitted the previously unbeaten Joe Pacheco with a second-round guillotine choke in the Season 9 middleweight tournament semifinals. Pacheco (6-1, 2-1 Bellator) conceded defeat 2:41 into round two, the North Carolinian beaten for the first time in seven professional appearances.
Pacheco started strong, as he delivered a pair of takedowns, threatened with various submissions and moved to full mount in the first round. Ward (8-1, 4-1 Bellator) answered in round two, where he caught the overzealous 28-year-old in a guillotine, switched to a figure-four grip and awaited surrender.
Ward has finished his last three opponents, two of them by submission.
Prelims: Ayala KOs ‘Big Monster’ Santos at Buzzer
Javy Ayala (6-3, 1-0 Bellator) knocked out Team Nogueira’s Thiago Santos (11-3, 3-2 Bellator) with a two-punch combination at the buzzer in the first round of their heavyweight battle; Scott Cleve (14-3, 1-0 Bellator) put away former Tachi Palace Fights champion Isaac DeJesus (10-6-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 3:14 into the second round of their featherweight encounter; Brandon Girtz (9-3, 1-2 Bellator) submitted Poppies Martinez (27-9, 0-1 Bellator) with an armbar 1:20 into the first round of their lightweight tilt; Millennia MMA’s Stephen Martinez (10-2, 1-0 Bellator) choked Bryan Travers (14-4, 0-1 Bellator) unconscious with a guillotine 56 seconds into the first round of their catchweight affair;
Cain Carrizosa (5-0, 1-0 Bellator) kept his perfect professional record intact, as he submitted Juan Quesada with a triangle choke 4:51 into the second round of their clash at 155 pounds; and Brandon Cash (8-3, 1-0 Bellator) stopped William Richey (10-2, 0-1 Bellator) on a technical knockout after the Maximum Fighting Championship alum quit on his stool prior to the start of the third round of their heavyweight scrap.