Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Frank Mir made an important discovery: In Roy Nelson’s case, the Achilles heel rests a little higher on the leg.
Mir (19-13, 1-2 Bellator) annihilated “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner’s base with an unending barrage of inside leg kicks, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision in the Bellator 231 headliner on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
At times, it seemed as if Nelson’s left leg might fly right off his body. The 40-year-old Mir followed the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix it approach, and “Big Country” never made the adjustment. Once Nelson’s movement was compromised, Mir mixed in the occasional punching combination before resuming his shin-to-thigh attack. Nelson (23-18, 1-4 Bellator) did his best work in Round 3 -- he was the aggressor and executed a takedown in the waning moments -- but there was no escaping the hole that had been dug for him.
The win was Mir’s first since he knocked out Todd Duffee on July 15, 2015 and brought an end to his career-worst four-fight losing streak.
In the light heavyweight co-main event, former Bellator MMA champion Phil Davis put away Karl Albrektsson with punches and elbows in the third round. Albrektsson (9-3, 0-1 Bellator) succumbed to blows 3:06 into Round 3, his three-fight winning streak having come to a halt.
Davis (21-5, 8-2 Bellator) gradually wore down the Swede with superior speed, athleticism and technique. He floored Albrektsson with an overhand right in the second round and brutalized his body with ground-and-pound knees. By the time Round 3 arrived, the organizational newcomer was exhibiting signs of resignation. Davis pressed him into the cage with punches, bullied him into a seated position and eventually turned up the heat with punches and elbows.
Davis has rattled off four wins in five appearances.
Meanwhile, three-time NCAA wrestling champion Ed Ruth weathered significant adversity, leaned on relentless forward pressure and eked out a contentious split decision over Jason Jackson in a three-round welterweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Douglas Crosby and Dave Tirelli for Ruth, Ben Cartlidge for Jackson.
While Ruth (8-1, 8-1 Bellator) walked away with a victory, the memorable moments all belonged to his opponent. Jackson staggered him twice in the opening round, first with a head kick and later with a right uppercut. Ruth switched gears in the middle stanza, where he marched forward and drove the Hard Knocks 365 rep out of his comfort zone. Jackson (10-4, 1-1 Bellator) floored the 29-year-old with an overhand right in Round 3, only to have the resilient Ruth spring back to his feet and control a majority the remaining round with his wrestling.
The loss closed the book on Jackson’s three-fight winning streak.
Elsewhere, Pitbull Brothers export Ilara Joanne submitted Bec Rawlings with a kneebar in the second round of their featured women’s flyweight pairing. Rawlings (7-9, 0-1 Bellator) conceded defeat 3:35 into Round 2, as the 30-year-old Australian suffered the first submission defeat of her 16-fight career.
Joanne (9-4, 1-0 Bellator) struck for repeated takedowns and backed them up with positional control and ground-and-pound. In the second round, she knocked down Rawlings with a leg kick, landed another takedown, withstood a reversal and secured the kneebar for the finish.
Rawlings, 30, has lost five fights in a row.
Finally, current All Elite Wrestling superstar Jake Hager connected with an inadvertent knee to the groin, as his heavyweight showcase opposite Anthony Garrett resulted in a no-contest less than two minutes into the first round. Garrett (4-2, 0-0 Bellator) hit the deck and visible distress 1:56 into Round 1.
Hager (2-0, 2-0 Bellator) engaged his counterpart in the clinch and zeroed in on the body with knees. One of them landed well below the belt, prompting an anticlimactic stoppage.
In other action, Hard Knocks 365 prospect Steve Mowry (7-0, 3-0 Bellator) submitted Gokhan Saricam (4-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a kimura 56 seconds into the second round of their heavyweight pairing; Jessy Miele (9-3, 1-0 Bellator) eked out a split decision -- 30-27, 28-29, 30-27 -- over Talita Nogueira (7-2, 1-2 Bellator) in a three-round women’s featherweight tilt; Killys Mota (12-1, 1-0 Bellator) stopped Mandel Nallo (7-1, 2-1 Bellator) with a series of leg kicks 1:16 into the third round of their lightweight tussle; Connor Dixon (2-0, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Orkhan Ismatzade (0-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a kimura 42 seconds into the first round of their welterweight match; Phumi Nkuta (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) cruised to a unanimous decision over Adrian Haley (0-1, 0-1 Bellator) in a three-round flyweight bout, earning 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 scores from the judges; Dalton Rosta (2-0, 2-0 Bellator) disposed of Claude Wilcox (0-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 4:23 into the second round of their light heavyweight encounter; Tim Caron (10-2, 3-2 Bellator) took a unanimous decision from Lucas Pimenta Borges (8-3, 1-1 Bellator) in a three-round middleweight affair, earning 29-28 nods from all three cageside judges; Jon Manley (13-6, 2-0 Bellator) laid claim to a unanimous decision over Thiago Oliveira (16-5, 0-1 Bellator), drawing 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges; and Elise Reed (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) took care of Rebecca Bryggman (0-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 4:44 into the first round of their women’s atomweight clash.