Chris Lozano (right) took a unanimous decision over Brent Weedman at Bellator 49. | Photo: Keith Mills
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Many tabbed Brent Weedman as a dark horse in Bellator's Season 5 welterweight tournament. In the main event of Bellator 49 Saturday night at Caesars Atlantic City, Cleveland's Chris Lozano had something to say about it.
Overcoming a blown first round, Lozano rallied to earn a unanimous decision, 29-28 across the board over the Kentuckyian Weedman, and advance to the semifinals of the 170-pound bracket.
In the first round, Weedman took Lozano's back and threatened hard with a rear-naked choke. However, in the second round, Lozano's boxing took the forefront as the Strong Style Fight Team product smacked Weedman around badly with powerful uppercuts, turning the tide of the fight in his favor.
"My coaches told me I had to sit down a little bit more, take my time. I rushed in and got caught," Lozano told Sherdog.com after the bout. "The second round was what I had been preparing for. I got away from it in the first round, it cost me."
Weedman continued to seek the takedown in the third round, but the improved takedown defense of Lozano shut down his chances. Lozano's boxing stayed crisp and wrestling stayed sharp, as judges Ricardo Almeida, Romulo Bittencourt and Cardo Urso all awarded him their scorecards, and he improved his career tally to 9-1.
For two rounds, UFC veteran Ben Saunders looked for a way to submit his fellow welterweight opponent Chris Cisneros, but ultimately abandoned the idea in favor of some trademark knees.
Saunders dominated the fight from top control over the first two rounds, but was unable to secure the rear-naked chokes, kimuras and armlocks that he sought. "Killa B" landed some blows from crucifix position, and a triangle late in the first, but was thwarted by the bell.
In the third, the 29-year-old Saunders clinched with Cisneros and landed a brutal knee to the body that crumbled the Hawaiian, and gave Saunders entry into the Bellator's tournament semifinals at just 29 seconds of the final round. The Orlando, Fla., product is now 11-3-2 in his MMA campaign.
"Lots of people got to see my ground game tonight, and see what I can really bring to the table. I’m a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, not just a stand up fighter, so I was happy with what I brought to the cage tonight," Saunders told Sherdog.com after the bout.
Hot Brazilian prospect and former MFC welterweight champion Douglas Lima had a scare in his quarterfinal bout with Bellator tournament veteran Steve Carl, but was able to use his top control to earn the crucial W.
The 23-year-old Lima survived an early knockdown from a Carl right hook to use his superior strength and wrestling to keep Carl on his back. Carl threatened with kimuras and sweeps from the guard, but was never able to mount significant offense on the Atlanta-based Brazilian due to constant pressure.
Retired UFC welterweight-turned-judge Ricardo Almeida saw the bout 29-28 in favor of Lima, while judges Cardo Urso and Jeff Blatnick gave the bout 30-27 to Lima, who took the unanimous verdict and moves to 19-4 in his career.
In a minor upset, another American-based Brazilian, Luis Santos, made his presence felt by taking a commanding decision, 30-27 across the board over Dan Hornbuckle.
Santos, born in Belem, Brazil but training out of Finney's Hit Squad in St. Louis, used his wide array of kicks to keep his opponent at distance for much of the fight. Hornbuckle had some success when he was able to get inside and land his jabs and combos, but "Sapo" kicked hard and often to both the head and legs.
Near the end of the bout, Santos landed a head kick which staggered "The Handler," reflective of his kicking dominance over the 15-minute victory that moves him to Santos moves to 50-6-1 in his career.
The bout was also a triumph of another kind, as Santos' hotel room was robbed two days prior to the event -- a circumstance Santos described as "very difficult."
The tournament semifinals will take place at Bellator 53 on Oct. 8, with Ben Saunders meeting Luis Santos, and Chris Lozano facing Douglas Lima.