It took six months, but Dave Jansen can finally call himself lightweight tournament champion. The 33-year-old American put on a submission defense clinic en route to defeating 21-year-old Polish leg lock specialist Marcin Held via unanimous decision in the main event of Bellator 93.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Jansen.
Jansen and Held were initially scheduled to meet December 14, 2012 at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, in the final of season seven's lightweight tournament. However the match was cancelled at the last minute when the Indiana Gaming Commission forbid the then 20-year-old Held to enter the casino.
After a three-month wait, Held come out aggressively in round one, stringing together combinations while countering with straight punches and uppercuts, ultimately opening a small cut on Jansen's left cheek.
Held continued his pressure at the start of the second frame, shooting for a double and passing right into side control. Jansen regained his guard, then rolled for a d'arce choke, which failed but still gave him adequate position to begin chipping away with strikes. Jansen eventually advanced into mount, and after fighting off numerous submission attempts unloaded a big salvo from the top. The third round saw more of the same, as a fading Held ate strong shots on both the feet and the mat, while Jansen defended submission attempt after submission attempt.
With the win, Jansen improves his professional record to 20-2, and earns a $100,000 grand prize along with a guaranteed title shot against undefeated Bellator champion Michael Chandler
"I'm feeling total elation," Jansen said afterward. "Relief, just gratitude, happiness. Peace and love, man. I get a little peace in my life now, for a week at least."
Held falls to 15-3 with the loss.
In the night's co-main event, heavyweight prospect Ryan Martinez (9-2) floored Travis Wiuff (68-17, 1 NC) with a devastating left hand 18 seconds into the opening frame. Martinez followed up with a few ground strikes and just like that, Wiuff, last year's Bellator light heavyweight tournament finalist, was out.
"I was super relaxed coming into this fight," said Martinez. "Even before we came out here, I was telling my corner, ‘I feel weird. I feel too relaxed.'
"I'm with the greatest organization in the world, Bellator, and I just love being here."
Making his Bellator debut, former UFC welterweight Marcus Davis (21-9, 1 NC) fought to a brutal no contest with Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-11-1, 1 NC). The first round saw Davis defend a takedown by sprawling into a tight standing guillotine. Spiritwolf eventually freed himself, then clipped Davis with a left. Davis changed levels, accidentally launching a knee into the groin of Spiritwolf, which left his opponent writhing in agony on the mat.
With Spiritwolf unable to stand after expending his full five-minute recovery period, referee Kevin MacDonald waved off the bout, despite Davis' protests.
On the night's preliminary card, Michael Page's heavily-anticipated Bellator debut couldn't have gone any better. The English striking phenom needed just 10 seconds to flatten local welterweight Ryan Sanders with a right cross and extend his flawless record to 4-0.
"I always know my right hand is coming," Page said. "I train that all the time. That's what it is. I'm a long range fighter and I can hit you from anywhere."