Embattled UFC veteran Maiquel Falcao cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Andreas Spang (29-27, x3) in the main event of Bellator 69 on Friday night, overcoming an early point deduction for an illegal knee to the head of his downed opponent to claim the Bellator season six middleweight title.
Spang managed to daze Falcao early in the first round with his trademark left hook, but from then on it was all Falcao, as the Brazilian stifled Spang's attack inside the clinch, before taking the Swede down at will and pummeling him with a barrage of strikes and knees to the body.
"I've got the best team in the world," an elated Falcao said afterward through a translator. "My coach is the best grappling coach in the world. There's no way I won't improve my grappling game. I want to dedicate this fight to all the Bellator staff that believed in me and supported me, especially to Bjorn (Rebney), my boss."
Falcao is now slated to meet season five tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko for the right to Hector Lombard's vacated middleweight strap. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney announced the match-up after the judges' scorecards were final.
"I thought it was a spectacular performance," Rebney gushed. "Next up, my friend -- Alexander Shlemenko for the word title."
Action stalled early as a Rickels push-kick to the groin resulted in Amoussou's cup snapping, leading to an interesting exchange in which a cornerman was ordered to, "Go see if someone has a cup he can borrow." After a suitable replacement was found, Amoussou and Rickels picked back into the swing of things, engaging in a furious slugfest that saw Amoussou control the opening frame with a relentless blizzard of strikes from guard, and Rickels mightily return the favor in round three.
Round two was a bit more even, with both men trading fiery exchanges and Rickels nearly securing an armbar from the bottom. In the end, the judges favored Amoussou, though the Louisiana crowd booed lustily at the decision.
"I think that fight was really close," Amoussou admitted afterward. "My whole respect (goes) to David Rickels. I can understand how sad he can be. ... He really earned my respect in that fight. And David, man, I'm really sorry for you about that decision."
"Bryan Baker, I have two months to be more than ready for you," the Frenchman boldly declared. "Man, I'm going to come, I'm going to destroy, I'm going to do my job. And then I'm going to take care of the lay-and-prayer."
Elsewhere, in a clash of top-ranked 115-pounders, Jessica Aguilar survived a torrent of submission attempts while working slick counterstriking to stun Megumi Fujii and claim a unanimous decision victory (29-28, x3).
A back-and-forth stand-up war highlighted much of the opening two rounds, with Aguilar getting the better of the exchanges, blooding the face of her 38-year-old opponent and opening up a large cut under the eye of Fujii. Sensing urgency, Fujii pushed the pace in the final five minutes, pulling Aguilar to the ground and uploading an attack of elbows and short punches to try and steal the victory. However it would prove to be too little, too late.
Afterward, a battered Fujii announced she would "take some time off" to figure out her next move.
Rounding out the night, Mark Holata punched his ticket to Bellator's season seven heavyweight tournament by submitting UFC veteran Abe Wagner midway through the first round. Though, the fight probably won't win any awards for grace.
After nailing a single-leg early, Holata engaged in a methodical leglock battle with Wagner before coaxing a verbal tap. The awkward finish was officially read as an ankle lock submission at 2:24 of round one.