Lorenz Larkin had a close call in the first round of his Bellator 229 headliner opposite ex-champ Andrey Koreshkov. But in the end, he shook off an early setback to take home a hard-fought split decision.
The final scorecards were 29-28 twice for Larkin and 29-28 for Koreshkov, who dropped to 1-2 in his past three outings while Larkin picked up his third straight win.
Koreshkov thought he was in position for an early takedown after eating a leg kick. Instead, Larkin forced a scramble as he went for his own, and a clinch fight ensued. When that expired, Koreshov managed to surprise Larkin with one of his patented spinning attacks, a wheel kick that sat the UFC vet on the canvas. The finish was in reach until Larkin uncorked a left hook that rattled the Russian, forcing him to back off.
The next time Koreshkov spun, Larkin was ready and clinched up. There, the fight stalled as Koreshkov spun into dominant position. When the two finally broke free, Larkin went on the offensive. He had success when he put together combinations, even as Koreshkov managed to surprise a few times in counter. But it was a hard overhand right and knee that sent Koreshkov to the canvas, and Larkin nearly pulled off the finish by the end of the second round.
Koreshkov knew he needed to make up the deficit, and he came out strong in the final frame, pushing Larkin back with combinations. When a takedown presented itself, Koreshkov went to transition, only to find himself stuck in a guillotine. Koreshkov hung tough, but couldn’t keep his foe from getting back to his feet. Instead, he trapped Larkin against the fence and grinded out the round in a decidedly conservative play.
Yamauchi snatches Awad’s arm early
Saad Awad got off to a strong start, slapping Goiti Yamauchi with a series of hard front kicks. That wasn’t enough to keep Yamauchi at a distance, but a hard right hand did the job – at least briefly.
When Awad tried to capitalize, swarming Yamauchi, he was forced to concede guard when the submission specialist slowed down the action – at least briefly. An armbar came up so fast, Awad hardly had time to react. When he tried to strike his way out of it, Yamauchi drove his hips, went belly down, and forced the submission.
It was Yamauchi’s seventh Bellator submission, securing a promotional record as the fighter with the most tapouts.
Melendez shuts out frozen Polk
Polk didn’t waste time trying to get the fight to the canvas. She ate a big punch trying to get there, and then found herself stuck in a triangle attempt. Melendez coudn’t get the tap, but she picked up points with elbows and punches from the bottom.
Melendez fought off the takedown and did damage in the clinch as the two settled into the second round. Polk didn’t give up trying to get the fight south, but every time Melendez had time to strike, she scored with big punches.
Polk got one last takedown in the final frame, and yet again, she got stuck in a triangle choke. While she was able to escape, she wasn’t able to do any damage to erase her point deficit. When the fight went to the scorecards, Melendez pitched a shutout.
Johnson takes several shots to deliver finishing blow
Tony Johnson had to take a few shots against Joe Schilling. But he delivered the one that counted.
Schilling started strong, slamming Johnson’s legs and body with powerful kicks. Johnson hung in there and swung for the fences. But it wasn’t until later that he connected cleanly; a right hand sent Schilling tumbling to the mat, and he was forced to escape an Anaconda choke. At the end of the first, Johnson was in top position.
Again, striking was Schilling’s advantage in the second round as he cut angles and avoided a fight in close quarters. None of the shots slowed down Johnson, but the round went the opposite direction.
Things took a drastic turn midway through the third when Johnson finally managed to connect with one of his power punches. A counter left hook sent Schilling to the canvas, out cold.
Full Bellator 229 results:
Lorenz Larkin def. Andrey Koreshkov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Goiti Yamauchi def. Saad Awad via submission (armbar) - Round 1, 1:40
Keri Taylor Melendez def. Mandy Polk via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tony Johnson def. Joe Schilling via KO (punch) - Round 3, 2:07
Anatoly Tokov def. Hracho Darpinyan via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 4:38
Salim Mukhidinov def. Adel Altamimi via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-27)