Things started out rough for the still undefeated Minakov (14-0), as referee Herb Dean deducted a point from the Russian early in round one for two separate knees below the belt. Minakov managed to rebound though, and wound up taking each of the first three rounds with a collection of trips and a smothering top game.
Kongo (20-9-2) battled back to steal the fourth frame, spending a majority of the round controlling Minakov with short punches from top position, albeit while also receiving copious warnings from Dean for shorts grabbing. It wouldn't matter though, as Minakov nabbed a single leg in the opening seconds of the final round and glued Kongo to the mat, unloading a steady procession of offense throughout the five-minute frame.
All three judges scored the contest 48-46 in Minakov's favor.
"I fought with a very tough fighter today," an exhausted Minakov said afterward. "I fought with the strongest fighter in this weight division today, and now I feel like a real champion."
Things heated up early in the second round, as Baesman sent Terrado reeling with a flurry of punches and then dumped him on his back. Terrado rolled out for a heel hook attempt, but Baesman defended and unloaded a seemingly endless barrage of short elbows.
Baesman outlanded Terrado 62 total strikes to four by the end of the round, but referee Jason Herzog allowed the contest to continue, and Terrado somehow found the energy to seize the final frame, nearly completing an improbable comeback with a late armbar attempt.
"Just heart, man," Terrado said afterward. "I wanted Bellator to bring me back, so I did what I had to do in that third round."
Ultimately judge Derek Cleary scored the contest 29-28 for Terrado, while judges Chris Lee and Tony Weeks agreed on 28-28 score, ending the fight in a majority draw.
"Judges, I still love you," a disappointed Baesman said. "My family and my friends, I still love you. You all here know I won that."
Anundson consistently muscled Oezdemir to the mat throughout the opening five minutes, but it wasn't until the second frame that the American began to find his offense to go along with it. Anundson first hunted for a kimura from side control before transitioning to Oezdemir's back and cranking down hard on his neck, coaxing a reluctant tap 3:19 into the round to seize the ‘W' in his Bellator debut.
In the night's televised opener, season nine middleweight tournament finalist Mikkel Parlo (12-2) dominated Bellator newcomer Johnny Cisneros (8-3) en route to a clear cut unanimous decision win.
Takedowns were the weapon of choice for Parlo, as the Dane overwhelmed Cisneros on the canvas for all three rounds, spending much of the last 10 minutes either hunting for a rear-naked choke from Cisneros' back or raining down blows from mount. Cisneros survived to final bell, but all three judges scored the contest 30-27 in Parlo's favor.
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