The 25-year-old light heavyweight headlined a four-contract night on Tuesday at Dana White’s Contender Series by punching his ticket to the big show with a highlight-reel knockout of Bellato.
The two Brazilians had previously met at a regional event in May 2019, with Petrino (7-0) winning via 25-second knockout in his professional debut. Petrino needed a bit longer in the rematch, but history ultimately repeated itself as he caught Bellato with a savage counter left hook off a spinning back fist, then finished him off with a nasty right-hand follow-up. The official time of the stoppage came at 3:36 of Round 2.
“When I come into the octagon, it’s either to knock out or submit [someone],” Petrino said afterward. “... Dana, this was just a free sample of what you’re going to get.”
Younger brother Gabriel Bonfim (13-0) impressed most in the night’s co-main event, as the 25-year-old welterweight pulled off the first Von Flue choke in Contender Series history with a stellar stoppage at the 4:13 mark of the first round.
Fighting against 6-foot-5 Trey Waters (6-1), Bonfim dove into a double-leg attempt midway through the round, evaded a guillotine choke, then worked his way to the side of Waters to secure the fight-ending submission.
“The guillotine was really strong, it was really tough, he really got his choke hold on me,” said the younger Bonfim, who owns 10 submission wins. “But then I saw something.”
Earlier in the night, the elder Bonfim brother — 26-year-old lightweight Ismael Bonfim (18-3) — fared just as well in his bout against Nariman Abbasov (28-4), which he won via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Bonfim dropped Abbasov twice in the opening round with big punches, and though he was unable to find a stoppage, he nonetheless led the dance throughout behind a steady jab and a varied striking attack, impressing UFC executives and keeping his 12-fight win streak alive with an entertaining scrap.
“I have a lot more to show,” promised the elder Bonfim.
The night’s final contract went to 32-year-old light heavyweight Karl Williams (7-1).
Fighting up a weight class on just 10 days’ notice, Williams overcame a 30-pound weight disadvantage to earn a dominant unanimous decision over NCAA All-American wrestler Jimmy Lawson (4-2) in a heavyweight bout.
Despite Lawson’s background as a Penn State wrestler, it was Williams who went to the well early and often with his wrestling, dragging Lawson to the floor in all three rounds and spending long stretches of the bout working from top control. In the end, all three judges scored the bout 30-27 for Williams, who hails from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I’ve been grinding for a long time,” Williams said. “This is my fourth fight of the year, second in two months, so I’m just happy to go to work.”
In the first fight of the evening, 20-year-old flyweight Tereza Bleda (6-0) used her grappling and top control to stay undefeated and win a dominant decision over Nayara Maia (7-1-1). Bleda’s best efforts came in Round 3 when she dropped Maia with a nasty knee to the midsection then followed up with a deluge of punches, however Maia survived to the final horn and forced the Czech prospect to win with a trio of 30-26 scorecards.
“I’m very happy that I won,” Bleda said, “but I need to say that I’m really depressed from the fight because it wasn’t what I expected.”
- Vitor Petrino def. Rodolfo Bellato via KO (punches) at 3:36 of Round 2
- Gabriel Bonfim def. Trey Waters via submission (Von Flue choke) at 4:13 of Round 1
- Karl Williams def. Jimmy Lawson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ismael Bonfim def. Nariman Abbasov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Tereza Bleda def. Nayara Maia via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)