Aided by a noticeable size advantage, Anderson exploited longtime kickboxer Manhoef’s most obvious deficit with takedowns. Once on the canvas, he held half-guard and pounded away with vicious elbows and punches until referee Todd Anderson had seen enough and stopped the action at the 2:34 mark of the second round.
“[My coach] Nick Catone told me one more takedown,” Anderson said afterward at the Fight Sphere at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “[Coach] Mark Henry said, ‘Do the drama.’ That’s our code. That means go, let loose. Finish him.”
Manhoef, looking more like a beefy middleweight than a true light heavyweight, whiffed on the few punches he got off. Although he was able to pull off a nice sweep in the first round and fought off a late-frame takedown, Anderson gave him no time to work in his preferred range.
Anderson, who was on the cusp of a UFC title shot before a KO loss to current champ Jan Blachowicz, gets back in the win column after his high-profile setback. He’s aiming high in his next Bellator outing, targeting top contender Phil Davis or champ Vadim Nemkov.
“Whoever’s fighting for the title, I want the winner,” Anderson said. “Whoever’s got that strap, come see me.”
Heavy shots from @CoreyA_MMA as round 1️⃣ of the #Bellator251 main event winds down.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 6, 2020
Catch round 2️⃣ LIVE & FREE now on @CBSSportsNet in he U.S. and with @SkySports Mix in the U.K.#MMA #Bellator pic.twitter.com/BL1EwMzpHw
Fortune returns to the win column
Fortune’s wrestling factored heavily into the outcome, with a late-round takedown securing the opening frame after a tepid striking battle with Sowma on the feet. The decorated grappler opened up more in the middle frame, though he was swept off his feet with a leg kick and put on the defensive late in the round with a higher tempo from Sowma, a product of American Top Team.
Fortune used the clinch to neutralize Sowma after some tense exchanges in the final frame, and he resisted efforts to get him to the canvas, taking top position to close out the fight. Judges unanimously gave him 29-28 scores to put him back in the win column after a knockout loss to Timothy Johnson and a no-contest from an accidental groin kick against Jack May.
Vanderford leaves de Jesus in a puddle of blood
A good sprawl and a strong kneebar attempt marked Vinicius de Jesus’ best offense against Austin Vanderford. By the end of the first round, Vanderford had taken control and used his wrestling to dominate the rest of the fight.
Short-notice replacement de Jesus didn’t have the gas or the wrestling ability to stop Vanderford from putting him on the canvas, leading to a clean sweep on judges’ scorecards via scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27. By the end of the fight, de Jesus lay in a pool of blood, some his opponent’s and most his after taking elbows and punches for the better part of two rounds. An arm-triangle choke nearly ended his night in the second frame.
Vanderford is now 10-0 as a professional and earns a step up in competition, while de Jesus goes to 1-2 in his past three outings.
Some nasty ground & pound from @AustinV170MMA to close out the third and final round.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 6, 2020
The #Bellator251 main card is LIVE NOW on @CBSSportsNet in the and @SkySports Mix in the . pic.twitter.com/Zi3z12WG4l
Instant replay gets Derek Anderson the knockout win
The jiu-jitsu talent of Mota was immediately apparent in an attack that left Anderson defending multiple submission attempts in the first and second round. But a brief lapse in defense – and the use of instant replay – was his downfall in the second round of the fight.
After shucking off a guillotine and armbar attempt, Anderson righted himself and landed a head kick as Mota got off the canvas. Because Mota’s knee was up at the time of impact, it was ruled a legal blow – and not an illegal kick to a downed opponent – after an official review of the fight-ending sequence. The officials’ tool worked exactly as intended after the stoppage of action by referee Mike Beltran.
Here’s the finish.
Full Bellator 251 results:
Corey Anderson def. Melvin Manhoef via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 2:34
Tyrell Fortune def. Said Sowma via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Austin Vanderford def. Vinicius de Jesus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Derek Anderson def. Killys Mota via KO (kick) - Round 2, 4:27