Just a week before his better known teammate is set to defend the most prestigious heavyweight championship in MMA, Cole Konrad
won a belt of his own, capturing the Bellator heavyweight championship with a keylock submission victory over Neil Grove
at Bellator 32
Konrad, a two-time collegiate All-American who trains with UFC champ Brock Lesnar in Minnesota, followed the same blueprint that took him to the finals, overpowering his opponent with a takedown midway through the first. But unlike his previous two tournament bouts, he found a finish, moving to mount before locking in the fight-ending submission with just 15 seconds left in the first round.
"I've been working all aspects of the game every day but submissions flow so well from wrestling so it's a little bit easier to pick up right now," he said. "I felt great tonight, hats off to Neil. He's a great competitor and I had to be on my toes from the get-go. Fortunately I was."
Grove, a 6-foot-6 striker nicknamed "Goliath" was expected to have the edge in the standup, and Conrad worked his jab early to gauge the distance, finally scoring the takedown to put him in winning position after Grove closed the distance.
With the win, Conrad improved to a perfect 7-0 while Grove fell to 10-3-1.
Meanwhile, in the bantamweight division, Zach Makovsky
captured his first-ever championship by outlasting Ed West
in a five-round unanimous decision.
Makovsky used his superior wrestling skills to take West down repeatedly over the course of the 25-minute bout. In the third round, he cut West around the right eye with a short elbow from side control.
West had his moments early in the fight, but Makovsky took over in the final rounds, winning on the judges scorecards 50-45, 50-45, 49-46. Makovsky moved to 12-2 with the win while West dropped to 15-5 after having his seven-fight win streak snapped.
"It feels amazing, this is the goal anytime you compete," Makovsky said. "It's the best experience in my life and probably toughest as well, fighting every three weeks."
In a featured welterweight fight, debuting Brit Jim Wallhead
earned a unanimous decision over Ryan Thomas
, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Wallhead had originally been slated to compete in the season two tournament but was forced out after the volcanic ash cloud caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull grounded thousands of European flights.
Wallhead (19-5) has now won seven straight fights, and 11 of his last 12.