Gegard Mousasi Deposes Rafael Carvalho, Becomes Fifth Bellator MMA Middleweight Champion

By Brian Knapp May 25, 2018

Gegard Mousasi took care of business and did so with clinical precision, as he stopped Rafael Carvalho with first-round punches to capture the undisputed Bellator MMA middleweight championship in the Bellator 200 headliner on Friday at the SSE Arena in London. Carvalho (15-2, 6-1 Bellator) wilted 3:35 into Round 1. The loss was his first since Dec. 17, 2011 and closed the book on his 15-fight winning streak.

Mousasi (44-6-2, 2-0 Bellator) made it look easy, like hot-knife-through-butter easy. The 32-year-old “Dreamcatcher” executed multiple takedowns, softened Carvalho with ground-and-pound and climbed to full mount. Unable to escape, the Brazilian surrendered his back and covered up, with Mousasi cutting loose with right hands until the job was finished.

In the welterweight co-main event, undefeated London Shootfighters representative Michael Page struck David Rickels into first-round submission and strengthened his often-questioned resume at the expense of one of Bellator’s most successful fighters. Rickels (19-5, 13-5 Bellator) bowed out 43 seconds into the second round, his modest two-fight winning streak snapped.

Page (13-0, 9-0 Bellator) picked apart “The Caveman” through much of the first five minutes, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his skills and showboating. In the second round, the British karateka split open Rickels’ left eye with a clean right cross. Blood flowed from the wound, and soon after, the Kansas native indicated he did not wish to continue.

Meanwhile, former Bellator champion Phil Davis knocked out Linton Vassell with a head kick in the third round of their light heavyweight showcase. Davis (19-4, 6-1 Bellator) brought it to a shocking conclusion 65 seconds into Round 3, as he won for the sixth time in seven appearances.

Vassell (18-7, 7-4 Bellator) held his own until the fight-ending blow. Davis was content to engage the Englishman on the feet but started to incorporate takedowns in a grueling second round that left both men depleted but undeterred. No one could have foreseen the finish: Davis circled off the cage, pawed with a jab and connected with a right high kick. Vassell staggered and collapsed, eating a right hand from the crouching “Mr. Wonderful” before referee Leon Roberts could arrive on the scene.

The 34-year-old Vassell has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career.

Elsewhere, “The Ultimate Fighter 23” semifinalist Kate Jackson dominated the previously unbeaten Anastasia Yankova to a unanimous decision in a three-round feature at 125 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Jackson (10-3-1, 2-1 Bellator): 30-26, 30-26 and 29-27.

It never felt competitive. Jackson executed repeated takedowns, paired them with superior positional control and unleashed hellacious ground-and-pound. Her elbows were particularly effective. By the time it was over, Yankova (5-1, 3-1 Bellator) was mentally and physically defeated, her nose having been mangled by her counterpart’s violent delights.

Jackson, 31, has rattled off six wins in seven outings.

Finally, onetime British Association of Mixed Martial Arts titleholder Mike Shipman obliterated Carl Noon in the first round of their featured middleweight pairing. In his first appearance in nearly seven years, Noon (7-3, 0-1 Bellator) succumbed to blows from the London Shootfighters standout just 10 seconds into Round 1.

An overhand right behind the ear did the damage for the surging Shipman (12-1, 3-0 Bellator). The dazed Noon hit the deck in no condition to defend himself and absorbed further punishment before it could be waved off.

Shipman has won 12 fights in a row, all of them finishes.

In other action, Anatoly Tokov (26-2) choked Vladimir Filipovic (10-3) unconscious with a guillotine 56 seconds into the first round of their middleweight clash; onetime reality television star Aaron Chalmers (4-0, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Ash Griffiths (4-5, 0-2 Bellator) with a standing guillotine 1:54 into the first round of their catchweight tussle; Walter Gahadza (17-3) submitted Kent Kauppinen (10-4) with a rear-naked choke 2:04 into the second round of their welterweight encounter; Amir Albazi (11-0) tapped Iurie Bejenari (6-3) with a rear-naked choke 3:21 into the first round of their confrontation at 125 pounds; Charlie Leary (15-9-1) disposed of Tom Green (12-3) with punches 4:58 into the second round of their middleweight match; Charlie Ward (5-3) put away Martin Hudson (4-5) with punches 4:58 into the second round of their middleweight showdown; Pedro Carvalho (8-3) took a split decision -- 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 -- from Daniel Crawford (10-2) across three rounds at 145 pounds; Costello van Steenis (10-1) cut down Kevin Fryer (6-3) with punches 1:20 into the first round of their middleweight scrap; Tom Mearns (5-2) suffered a gruesome arm injury against Mike Ekundayo (6-0), bringing a halt to their featherweight affair 62 seconds into the second round; and Jahreau Shepherd (1-1) forced a doctor stoppage in between the first and second rounds of his welterweight tilt against Marcin Zywica (2-1).
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