Friday night was bizarro night for Bellator, a nightmare kind of evening that simply needs to be left in the rear view mirror. A current champion lost, a former champion lost, a key star was injured, and a bizarre incident led to a last-minute main event cancellation.
Taking the last first, Shahbulat Shamhalaev was not allowed to fight by the New Jersey state athletic control board after he was struck by a bout of food poisoning. The decision was not announced until just before the fight was set to take place as the Bellator 83 headline bout at Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
According to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, the fight will instead take place at next week's Bellator 84 event in Hammond, Indiana.
That meant that only two of the originally scheduled main card bouts went on as scheduled.
In the first, current 115-pound champion Zoila Gurgel was steamrolled by Jessica Eye in a 125-pound non-title fight. The two rivals brought bad blood into the cage, but the bout was one-sided and quick. Eye dropped Gurgel with one of her first punches and eventually locked in a standing arm triangle, tightening the hold until she choked Gurgel unconscious.
It took her only 58 seconds.
"This is a long time coming," Eye (9-1) said after winning her sixth straight fight. "I wanted to be here for you guys, I wanted to be a good rep, and I wanted to be here for myself."
It was the biggest win in her career. Gurgel had won seven in a row but has still never defended the belt. She joins Christian M'Pumbu, Joe Warren and Eduardo Dantas as reigning champs who have lost non-title fights. She's now 12-2.
The fight was fairly tight all the way through but Leone seemed to be the fighter moving forward for most of the duration, and he likely sealed the win with a strong third round, winning the positional battle on the ground from the top and staying there for the final minutes.
Leone is now 12-5, and likely to earn a place in the promotion's next featherweight tourney, while Makovsky dropped his second straight to fall to 14-4.
The other piece of frustrating news for Bellator was the injury to "War Machine" Jon Koppenhaver, who recently suffered a broken tibia and torn ACL in training, forcing him out of the upcoming welterweight tournament in January 2013.