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Michael Page and his supporters can breathe a sigh of relief.
The undefeated London Shootfighters export advanced to the semifinals of the Bellator MMA welterweight grand prix with a unanimous decision over Paul Daley in the five-round Bellator 216 headliner on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Page (14-0, 10-0 Bellator) carried 48-47 scores on all three cards.
After an uneventful first five minutes, Daley (40-17-2, 6-4 Bellator) turned to takedowns and enjoyed success with the tactic. He grounded Page in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds but did not do enough with advantageous positions. Daley appeared to hit a wall once it became clear he could not crack his adversary’s resolve. Page stunned “Semtex” with a flying knee in the fourth round, landed a takedown of his own and applied his ground-and-pound. He then scrambled to Daley’s back in the fifth, threaded one hook and threatened briefly with a rear-naked choke. Page in the waning seconds countered a last-ditch takedown attempt from the former Cage Rage champion, assumed top position and bled the rest of the time off the clock.
The 31-year-old Page will face Douglas Lima in the welterweight grand prix semifinals on May 11.
In the heavyweight co-main event, 2006 Pride Fighting Championships open weight grand prix winner Mirko Filipovic leaned on superior standup -- his inside leg kicks were particularly effective -- and near-flawless takedown defense in a unanimous decision over former International Fight League champion Roy Nelson. All three judges sided with Filipovic (38-11-2, 1-0 Bellator): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Nelson (23-17, 1-3 Bellator) was a step behind the resurgent Croatian. Filipovic cut off “The Ultimate Fighter 10” winner’s takedown attempts for two-plus rounds and beat up Nelson in the clinch with uppercuts, standing elbows and knee strikes. “Big Country” secured his only takedown in the final minute of the third round but failed to consolidate it with damage or positional advances.
The 44-year-old Filipovic, who was on the receiving end of a third-round technical knockout from Nelson in 2011, now finds himself on a 10-fight winning streak.
Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo avenged an April 2014 defeat to former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov with a unanimous decision in their forgettable three-round rematch. Kongo (30-10-2, 12-2 Bellator) swept the eyebrow-raising scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
The encounter was marred by extended periods of inactivity from Kongo an ineffectiveness from his counterpart. Minakov (21-1, 5-1 Bellator) moved forward for much of the match but spent much of his energy swinging at air. Kongo struck in round-stealing bursts, uncorking punching and knees at opportune times in a clear effort to sway the jury. Minakov did his best work in the third round, where he delivered a takedown, scored with ground-and-pound and even attempted an Ezekiel choke. However, Kongo answered in the closing seconds with uppercuts and knee strikes that had the previously undefeated Russian ducking for cover.
Kongo, 43, has rattled off eight consecutive victories.
Elsewhere, repeated takedowns, positional control and ground-and-pound carried the unbeaten Yaroslav Amosov to a unanimous decision over former Jungle Fight champion Erick Silva in a three-round welterweight feature. All three cageside judges struck scorecards for Amosov (21-0, 2-0 Bellator): 29-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
The situation went downhill for Silva (20-10, 0-1 Bellator) after a competitive first round. Paying no mind to a cut near his left eye, Amosov went about torturing the Brazilian in close quarters. He initiated clinches, executed takedowns and battered him with punches to the head. The grind ultimately wore down Silva, who appeared to be running on fumes in the second half of the fight. Amosov punctuated his performance with four third-round takedowns.
It was Silva’s fifth defeat in seven appearances.
Finally, American Top Team prospect Valerie Loureda dazzled in her professional mixed martial arts debut, as she wiped out Colby Fletcher with a body kick and follow-up punches in the first round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Fletcher (1-3, 0-1 Bellator) bit the dust 2:55 into Round 1.
Loureda, a decorated black belt and national champion in taekwondo, mixed a variety of kicks with multi-punch bursts before unleashing the fight-ending salvo. She floored Fletcher with a powerful liver kick, trailed her to the canvas and cut loose with hammerfists until referee Kevin MacDonald had seen enough.
Fletcher, 26, has lost three fights in a row.
In other action, Arizona Combat Sports prospect Tyrell Fortune (6-0, 6-0 Bellator) disposed of Ryan Pokryfky (5-5, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 2:21 into the first round of their heavyweight scrap; Kemran Lachinov (8-2, 4-0 Bellator) put away Kastriot Xhema (2-3, 2-3 Bellator) with a kneebar 58 seconds into the second round of their catchweight confrontation at 165 pounds; Justin Sumter (7-2, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Reginaldo Felix (4-3, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 3:27 into the second round of their middleweight tilt; Demetrius Plaza (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) laid claim to a unanimous decision over Andrews Rodriguez (1-1, 1-1 Bellator) in a three-round welterweight battle, drawing 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27 marks from the judges; Vinicius de Jesus (7-2, 3-1 Bellator) took care of Rodolfo Barcellos (0-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 3:46 into the first round of their clash at 170 pounds; Jesse Kosakowski (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Rodolfo Rocha (1-2, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 3:05 into the second round of their welterweight encounter; and Nekruz Mirkhojaev (4-2, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Pat Casey (3-1, 2-1 Bellator) with a neck crank 1:38 into the third round of their lightweight pairing.