50. That's the number of professional mixed martial arts wins the Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko has after successfully defending his title against tournament winner Brennan Ward at Bellator 114. Ward made matters interesting early, but it was the ever-improving Russian who proved too formidable a challenge for the American.
Ward was more active early, throwing body shots and nearly scoring a duck under to put Shlemenko on the mat. Ward managed to score a spinnig back kick to the body, but it was Shlemenko who ate it and waded through to land hard punches of his own in response. The bout was temporarily halted by an inadvertent groin strike by Ward and it was Shlemenko who landed the first punch when they resumed the action, but Ward managed to plant Shlemenko on the ground and attempt a face crank. Both fighters traded bombs, the Russians getting the better of them, but it was Ward who took the champion's back in a scramble, which is where the first round would ultimately end.
The two wasted no time in the opening moments of the second round, with both fighters going right back to heavy exchanges both in and out of range. Ward would eat a right hand and find himself on a single leg against the champion, only to find defend a guillotine choke from a standing Shlemenko. The choke would prove too much, however, and the American would tap at 1:22 of round 2.
"I am very glad that I got this submission victory," Shlemenko said post-fight via translator. "Once again, I want to thank Brennan Ward for the great fight. I was waiting. I knew that he would get tired by the second round. So, I was just waiting. It is a fight."
For the night's co-main event, the first half of the season 10 featherweight semifinal, Daniel Weichel and Max Bessette faced off. Weichel initially was able to work from on top as Bessette tripped and fell to the mat in a clinch break. Weichel scored stinging punches on top for several minutes. Weichel was unable to pass and Bessette was active with submission attempts off the bottom, but it was clearly the German who was getting the better off the opportunities. Weichel attempted to spin for a farside armbar, but couldn't get it and the two stood in the subsequent scramble.
Bessette as more active in the early portion of the second round, staying busy with leg kicks and punching combinations. Weichel caught a kick and shoved Bessette to the ground, but elected to not follow him to the ground, putting the contest back on the feet by default. The two would spend the remainder of the round going back and forth striking, but it was Bessette who did more, literally, with volume attacks.
Weichel began the third frame with a takedown attempt that went nowhere, but scored with a knee from the clinch during the separation. Weichel scored later with a takedown and Bessette tried working early from butterfly and then rubber guard. The rest of the round would be spent there as Bessette tried to get anything working from guard while Weichel maintained top pressure.
Ultimately, Weichel would win a unanimous decision against Bessette, taking 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 on the judges score cards and moves on to face Desmond Green in the tournament finals.
In the first season 10 featherweight semifinal, Desmond Green squared off against Will Martinez. It would be Martinez who landed first, cracking Green with a right hand. The All-American wrestler in Green used the opportunity to trip Martinez to the mat, but wasn't able to do much with it as Martinez quickly got back to his feet. Martinez was able to stand back up after another takedown, but it wasn't until much later that Green scored an authoritative double leg in the center of the cage, planting Martinez firmly in the mat.
Martinez managed to opened the second frame landing a series of hard punches, but a takedown attempt from Green followed by the wrestler getting behind Martinez ended up with Martinez being slammed hard to the mat after eating a series of knees to the thigh. Martinez would attempt a number of submissions from bottom position along the fence, but Green was able to deftly avoid them all.
By the third and final round, Martinez decided to back himself against the fence willingly to force counter strikes, but Green obliged Martinez by scoring a hard right hand that wobbled the Philadelphia native. Green didn't over pursue, however, and the two spent more time exchanging in open space. Martinez cracked Green with a left hook late, forcing Green into a desperation takedown attempt that went nowhere.
Green would end up taking a unanimous decision win (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) and move onto the finals where he'll face Daniel Weichel.
In the opening bout of the night, Bellator staged one-half the semifinals of their season 10 middleweight tournament with a bout between UFC veteran Kendall Grove and Brett Cooper. Both fighters opened the frame with the traditional feeling out period until a leg kick from Cooper stumbled Grove, which forced the Hawaiian to initiate a takedown sequence against the fence. Grove was successful and moved to Cooper's back, hunting for any submission he could find. Despite his best effort, Cooper could not shake back control. By the end of the first round, Grove used his body triangle to move to mount and nearly force a stoppage.
At the start of the second round, Cooper drilled Grove with an uppercut-left hook combo and pressed Grove against the fence, but wasn't able to amass more offense than that. Trying to capitalize on the grappling advantage, Grove attempted a single leg takedown along the fence, but Cooper deftly defended it. Everything changed, however, when a series of uppercuts eventually set up a right hand that drops Grove to the canvas. Cooper swarmed his hurt opposition and from Grove's guard, put the Alliance MMA middleweight away. The end came officially at 3:33 of round 2, moving Cooper to the finals of the middleweight tournament.