On Friday night, Bellator MMA returned to the Mohegan Sun Arena for Bellator 231, the start of their two-night double header in in Uncasville, Connecticut. Bellator 231 was headlined by a heavyweight rematch between Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, and like last time, Mir walked away with a unanimous decision victory via scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice.
In the first round, Mir controlled the fight with inside leg kicks while Nelson kept trying to pressure and land the big KO punch. By the second round, Nelson was starting to have actual problems with his lead leg, and a few of the kicks Mir landed started to drop Nelson. Big Country soldiered on, though, and was even able to stage a minor comeback in the third as Mir appeared to gas somewhat, pressing the action and landing a takedown moments before the final bell. In the end, Mir was able to put a stop to his four-fight losing streak, earning a unanimous decision win. The loss was Nelson’s fourth in a row and dropped the popular heavyweight to 1-4 in Bellator.
In the co-main event, Phil Davis won his second straight fight, dominating hot prospect Karl Albrektsson. In the first two rounds, Davis outworked Albrektsson with kicks to the body at range and strategic wrestling. In the third round though, Davis hurt Albrektsson with a pair of kicks to the body that had the Swedish fighter backing up and all, but totally defensive. Sensing weakness, Davis started attacking Albrektsson, lighting him up with punches on the fence before taking him down and pummeling the overwhelmed fighter on the floor, eventually forcing the referee to intervene. After the bout, Davis called for Bellator to host a light heavyweight grand prix next but even if that doesn’t happen, Davis will have no shortage of options going forward.
In the feature welterweight bout of the evening, Ed Ruth squeaked out a split decision win over former LFA champion Jason Jackson in the best fight of the evening. Jackson came out strong early, boxing Ruth up in the first round and hurting the NCAA wrestling champion multiple times in the first round. In the second round, Ruth rallied, using heavy forward pressure and boxing combinations to keep Jackson on the back foot. It looked like Jackson might have been gassing near the end of the second round, but all thoughts of that went out the window when Jackson dropped Ruth at the start of the third round with a monster right hand. Ruth was able to recover and spent the next four minutes chasing Jackson around, trying to win the round back. Eventually, Ruth went to his wrestling and it may have been his saving grace, allowing Ruth to ride out the end of the fight with Jackson’s back.
In the end, one judge saw it for Jackson, but the other two gave the win to Ruth, and the three-time national wrestling champion’s star just keeps growing.
In a feature flyweight bout, Ilara Joanne got the biggest win of her career, submitting the well-known Bec Rawlings with a kneebar. Joanne had little interest in standing up with Rawlings, who has been plying her trade in bare-knuckle fights recently, and quickly took her down, controlling Rawlings for most of the round. In the second round, Joanne landed a leg kick that dropped Rawlings and more top control ensued until Rawlings reversed the position. That proved to be her downfall though as Joanna quickly kept the scramble going and ended up grabbing a knee bar that forced Rawlings to tap out. The win was Joanne’s third in a row and makes her one to watch in the flyweight division.
In the main card opener, pro-wrestler Jake Hager looked to keep his MMA career rolling, but instead suffered the first blemish of his career, when his bout with Anthony Garrett ended in an early no-contest after a pair of low blows from Hager rendered Garrett unable to continue. It was a lackluster outcome, but one that at least keeps Hager fresh and able to return quickly, should Bellator find another suitable opponent for him.