Bellator Tournament Finals: Warren Wins Controversial Decision, Shlemenko Rolls

Joe Warren and Alexander Shlemenko captured Bellator tournament titles, taking completely different paths en route to victories at Bellator 22.

Warren overcame a nearly disastrous first round, grinding out a disputed three-round split decision over Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, while Shlemenko crushed his way to a first-round knockout win.

Warren exhibited tremendous heart in his featherweight tourney match, as he got off to a horrific start against Freire. The young Brazilian managed to stop every takedown attempt from Warren in the first and picked him apart on his feet. Eventually, Freire floored Warren with two rights hands, pummeled him with strikes from the top that were so close to finishing, the referee warned Warren to defend himself or the fight would be stopped. With just seconds left, Freire applied a rear naked choke, and it appeared tight, but time ran out before he could force a tapout.

Freire appeared to do enough to earn a 10-8 score for the overwhelming round, but none of the judges scored it that way. That would end up playing a major role in the final outcome.

The tide began to turn in the second round. Freire controlled the first half of the round until Warren finally scored his first takedown of the match. Warren worked him over from the top and stole the round on two of the three judges' scorecards.

Warren controlled almost the entire third. The judges scored the bout 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 for a split decision.

"I'm tired and happy," said Warren, who was reportedly suffering from a virus throughout the day before competing. "I fought a great fighter, but I'm the champ, baby."

Not quite yet. While he may have captured the tourney, all that does is set up a fall championship bout with current belt-holder Joe Soto.

"I think I'm gonna whip him," Soto said. "I'm gonna whip up on him, yeah. He showed a lot of determination, obviously he lost that first round. But I'm gonna put it on him for three rounds or five rounds or whatever."

"I know I'll have that belt around my waist the next few months," Warren said. "He's a great opponent and I'm gonna pummel him."

In the middleweight tournament finals, rising star Shlemenko needed just 2:45 to knock out Bryan Baker.

Shlemenko mowed through Baker, hurting him with a right cross and knee to the body. Baker went down and Shlemenko swarmed him with ground strikes. Baker had his hands up, but most of the punches sliced through his defense and found his chin, and after a particulary vicious standing right hand, the ref decided he'd seen enough and called a halt to the action.

With the win, Shlemenko earns a fall shot at current Bellator champion Hector Lombard.

"This was very, very tough and a rough road," Shlemenko said through his interpreter. "Hector Lombard better be ready, because this belt belongs to me."

Shlemenko improved his impressive record to 30-4 with his sixth straight win, while Baker fell to 13-2.

In a women's featured bout, Zoila Frausto knocked out highly touted 125-pounder Rosi Sexton at the two-minute mark of the first round.

The end came quickly. Sexton was chasing the takedown, and Frausto anticipated her dropping down and drilled her with a knee. The strike knocked out Sexton, who fell down backwards. The referee was indecisive about the stoppage, and Frausto added a couple right hands to the floored opponent before it was stopped.

"I saw that opening there," Frausto said. "I just threw it up and went in to finish. I finished, finally."

Frausto improved to 7-1 while Sexton -- considered the No. 1 ranked 125-pounder in the world -- dropped to 10-2 after having her five fight win-streak snapped.

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