Patricky Freire retained his spot atop the lightweight contender’s list in Bellator MMA — but just barely.
Freire edged Ryan Scope (10-2, 0-1 Bellator) in the Bellator “Newcastle” headliner at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle England on Saturday, taking a split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) over his English opponent in a competitive bout. Freire (21-8, 14-7 Bellator) has now won five straight fights.
The event marked the debut of the California-based promotion’s European Series, and it was a struggle throughout for Freire. The elder Brazilian “Pitbull” brother had his best moment in round one, when he followed a punching combination with a knee down the middle that floored his opponent. Freire followed Scope to the mat and dropped some short elbows before allowing his adversary to stand. Scope regained his senses relatively quickly to survive the round.
From there, Freire’s night was characterized by sporadic bursts of offense, but he often appeared perplexed by Scope, who chipped away with low calf kicks throughout the contest. The rangy English fighter never threatened Freire with his power, but he began to find success with his straight punches and kicking game as the bout progressed. He also spent the final 20 seconds of the fight attached to Freire's back. Still, Scope was unable to put his stamp on the fight, particularly in a closely-contested second stanza.
After the victory, Freire continued to target a rematch with reigning lightweight king Michael Chandler, referring to him as the “champ of s—t” in a post-fight interview.
In the co-main event, Corey Browning added another high-profile pelt to his collection, submitting British reality television star Aaron Chalmers in the third round of their lightweight encounter. The end came 20 seconds into the final period, as Browning (4-1, 2-0 Bellator) trapped his foe in a heel hook.
Chalmers had his moments early. After returning to his feet from a takedown, the “Geordie Shore” cast member floored his opponent with a two-punch combination during a wild slugfest in the opening stanza. Browning quickly recovered, however, and went on to take over the bout down the stretch.
Browning, who was coming off a win over Kevin Ferguson Jr. at Bellator 207, took Chalmers down and moved to full mount in round two. The Tennessee native wasn’t able to stop the fight with his ground-and-pound, and Chalmers also survived a late armbar attempt to see the bell. In the final stanza, Chalmers came out swinging and sprawled on an initial Browning takedown attempt only to see his opponent quickly transition to the fight-ending submission moments later.
Elsewhere, Scotland’s Chris Bungard ended the nine-bout winning streak of Englishman Terry Brazier in a featured lightweight affair. Bungard (12-4, 1-0 Bellator) forced Brazier (10-2, 0-1 Bellator) to tap to a rear-naked choke 2:06 into the opening stanza for his second consecutive victory.
Brazier backed his opponent into the fence with a straight right hand at the outset, but the contest quickly developed into a clinch battle against the fence. As the combatants jockeyed for position, Bungard was able to transition to a rear waistlock, driving Brazier to a knee. The Scottish Hit Squad representative then locked in a body triangle and slid his right arm underneath his opponent’s chin. Moments later, Brazier fell to the mat and was forced to tap out.
Earlier, middleweight prospect Fabian Edwards went the distance for the first time in his burgeoning career, taking a unanimous decision against Lee Chadwick in the evening’s opening main card bout. Cageside judges scored the contest 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27, all in favor of Edwards (6-0, 2-0 Bellator). The Birmingham, England native’s first five wins had all ended inside of two frames.
While the contest was marked by periods of inactivity, the younger brother of UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards controlled the tempo and range of the fight. He wobbled Chadwick (24-14-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a head kick and swarmed with punches in the opening frame before scoring a takedown late in the round. As the bout progressed, Chadwick appeared tentative, wary of closing the distance against his more explosive opponent.
Edwards punctuated his victory in the third stanza, when he was able to take Chadwick down from the clinch and transition to back control. From there, Edwards locked in a body triangle, landing short strikes and threatening with a rear-naked choke until the final horn.
In earlier action: Arunas Andriuskevicus defeated James Mulheron via doctor stoppage 42 seconds into round three at light heavyweight; Jim Wallhead took a unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) over Abner Lloveras at welterweight; Nathan Rose knocked out Ranjeet Baria with one second remaining in the opening period of their featherweight clash; Justin Burlinson tapped Maciej Gierszewski with a rear-naked choke at the 4:04 mark of round one in a welterweight scrap; Luke Westwood defeated Richard Kallos by TKO 1:32 into the third frame of their bantamweight tilt; Ashley Reece earned a TKO stoppage of John-Ross Harkins 3:42 into round one at welterweight; Tommy Quinn scored a knockout of Martin Hudson at the 3:02 mark of round one in a middleweight clash and Kieran Lister knocked out Davie McLaughlin 1:19 into the opening stanza at lightweight.