Timothy Johnson spoiled the Frenchman’s party for the first-ever Bellator event in France.
Johnnson (15-6) defeated Cheick Kongo (30-11-2) via split decision in a heavyweight matchup of Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans in the Bellator Paris headliner at Accor Arena in Paris, France, on Saturday. In the opening stanza, Johnson exploited a careless leg kick from Kongo to take his opponent on the canvas. The American fighter pressed on the accelerator from there and almost closed the contest early with a flurry of punches. But Kongo was able to survive the sticky situation once Johnson’s pace slowed.
In the second stanza, the French veteran showed off some of his skills from the Thai clinch before moving the action to the ground himself and controlling Johnson on the canvas. In the last stanza, the two contenders clinched for most of the time against the fence, where it seemed that Johnson prevailed in the exchanges. At the end of the contest, two of the three cageside judges rewarded Johnson with his third straight victory, allowing him to avenge a first-round KO loss to Kongo in their first meeting at Bellator 208.
The co-main event featured a featherweight affair between “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 22 competitor Saul Rogers (14-3) and Arbi Mezhidov (13-4), where it took little more than four minutes for "The Hangman" to get rid of his Austrian opponent. Once Rogers moved the action on the canvas, he started threatening his opponent with several submission attempts, including an anaconda choke. Mezhidov tried his best to defend himself from the relentless offense of his opponent, but he could do nothing to resist a slick rear-naked choke that forced him to tap at the 4:38 mark.
Earlier that night, Michael Page (18-1) upended Ross Houston (8–1, 1 NC) in what served as the Bellator 248 main event. Houston started strong in the opening stanza and took his opponent to the canvas after catching one of the flashy kicks from "Venom." The Scottish fighter controlled his opponent for the rest of the round, landing some ground-and-pound shots despite being unable to achieve full mount.
In the second round, Page retaliated with a takedown of his own before landing a few blows, one of which landed on the back on Houston's head. "The Hitman" was able to continue, but MVP seemed more comfortable than he did in the opening round. The third stanza developed at a slow pace that didn't appease the French fans, who expressed their disappointment loudly. Still, Page did enough to win the round. Eventually, the judges rewarded MVP with a unanimous decision victory with scorecards of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
In the Bellator 248 co-main event, Bellator welterweight contender Oliver Enkamp (10-2) submitted Emmanuel Dawa (9-4) thanks to a slick Japanese necktie submission that came at the 4:10 mark of the first round. Elsewhere, Alan Omer (24-6) overcome Ryan Scope (10-4) via TKO at the 1:46 mark in the opening stanza. In a featherweight affair, Mads Burnell (14-3) scored a first-round TKO victory at the 3:13 mark at the expense of Darko Banovic (15-8).
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