Melvin Manhoef knows how to send a crowd home happy.
Manhoef planted his flag in the Bellator MMA middleweight division, as he knocked out Hisaki Kato in the Bellator 146 headliner on Friday at the Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Kato (5-2, 1-1 Bellator) met his end 3:43 into round one, becoming the latest in a long line of Manhoef victims.
It was a firefight while it lasted. After a tentative first minute, the middleweights unsheathed their hands and got to it. Kato appeared to have the Suriname-born Dutchman reeling, as he backed him into the fence and delivered a burst of power punches, a mean right uppercut among them. Manhoef (30-12-1, 2-1 Bellator) did not fall. Kato backed away, left himself open and ate a savage left hook that dropped him where he stood. Referee John McCarthy took one look at his glazed eyes and decided he had seen enough.
Girtz Obliterates Campos in Rematch
In the lightweight co-main event, Grudge Training Center standout Brandon Girtz disposed of onetime King of the Cage champion Derek Campos with first-round punches. Girtz (14-4, 6-2 Bellator) finished it 37 seconds into round one, avenging a June 2013 decision loss.
Campos (15-6, 4-4 Bellator) never knew what hit him. Girtz floored him with a pair of overhand rights and then dive-bombed with a series of violent kneeling hammerfists that left referee Jason Herzog no choice but to intervene. It was over a little more than half a minute after it began.
Girtz, 30, has won five of his past six fights.
Related » Bellator 146 Round-by-Round Scoring
Jenkins Shuts Down Parsons
Bubba Jenkins won for the sixth time in seven outings, as he picked up a split decision against Blackzilians export Jordan Parsons in their featured matchup at 145 pounds. Two of the three cageside judges scored it for Jenkins, 29-28 and 30-27, while a third cast a dissenting 29-28 nod for Parsons.
Jenkins (10-2, 7-2 UFC) delivered the signature blow of the 15-minute bout when he slammed home a head kick in the second round. Parsons collapsed in serious trouble but survived the follow-up volley and managed to recover. Jenkins executed takedowns in rounds one and three, and while he did not consolidate them with damage, they allowed him to bottle up the former Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder for long stretches. Parsons (11-2, 2-1 UFC) was effective at range but had issues keeping the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at bay.
Njokuani Edges Clinch-Driven Njokuani
Former Tachi Palace Fights champion Chidi Njokuani made a successful promotional debut, as he claimed a unanimous decision over Ricky Rainey in their three-round welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Njokuani (14-4, 1-0 Bellator), who has recorded four consecutive victories.
Rainey (11-4, 3-2 Bellator) adopted a clinch-heavy approach for much of the match, utilizing knees to the thighs and sporadic foot stomps while mixing in the occasional takedown. Opportunities to score were limited for Njokuani, but he made the most of them. The 26-year-old turned the tide with a standing elbow strike in the second round, the impact leaving Rainey with a badly damaged right eye. Njokuani took advantage in round three, as he kicked effectively at all levels, offsetting a pair of surrendered takedowns.
The defeat halts Rainey’s modest two-fight winning streak.
Viana Halts Bloodied Alexander
Shooto Americas veteran Guilherme Viana forced a doctor stoppage against Houston Alexander in their featured light heavyweight clash. Bleeding from a nasty gash on his right eyelid, Alexander (16-13-1, 1-3-1 Bellator) was deemed unfit to continue between rounds two and three.
Viana (7-2, 1-1 Bellator) worked behind a punishing jab, repeatedly snapping back the head of his 43-year-old adversary. Alexander’s mind was willing, but his body was not. Viana staggered him with left hooks in both rounds, pushing the pedal to the floor in the second. There, he dragged a fading Alexander to the canvas, transitioned to the back and cut loose with ground-and-pound. By the time “The Assassin” returned to his corner, it became clear there was no need for the fight to move forward.
The 29-year-old Viana has rattled off four wins in five appearances.
Prelims: France Choke Submits Reiter
In preliminary action, former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Francisco France (13-3-1, 1-0 Bellator) submitted the previously unbeaten Ben Reiter (16-1-1, 3-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 68 seconds into the second round of their middleweight pairing; Invicta Fighting Championships alum Julia Budd (8-2, 3-0 Bellator) took a unanimous decision from Roberto Paim Rovel (4-1, 0-1 Bellator) in their three-round encounter at 145 pounds, earning 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 scores from the judges; Andre Santos (38-10, 2-1 Bellator) captured a unanimous verdict over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Josh Neer (36-15-1, 0-3 Bellator) in their welterweight battle, prompting 29-28 scorecards across the board; Stephen Banaszak (5-5, 3-2 Bellator) tapped George Pacurariu (10-5, 1-1 Bellator) with a guillotine choke 3:42 into the first round of their contest at 145 pounds; Arlene Blencowe (7-5, 2-1 Bellator) eked out a split decision -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 -- over Gabrielle Holloway (5-4, 0-2 Bellator) in their three-round women’s featherweight affair; and Alonzo Menifield (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) put away Zach Rosol (1-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 38 seconds into the first round of their heavyweight tilt.