Shlemenko Retains Crown at Bellator 98; Arreola Sacks Mitchell in First Round

shlemenkoAlexander Shlemenko Retains Middleweight Crown, Outlasts Brett Cooper at Bellator 98

By Brian Knapp
Brett Cooper made Alexander Shlemenko earn it.

Backed by a multi-pronged standup attack, a seemingly endless gas tank and a series of late takedowns, Shlemenko retained his Bellator MMA middleweight championship with a unanimous decision over Cooper in the Bellator 98 main event on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 48-47 for Shlemenko (48-7, 9 -1 Bellator), who has won 11 consecutive fights.

This one did not come easy. Cooper (19-9, 7-3 Bellator), who replaced the injured Doug Marshall on short notice, rocked the Russian champion twice in the first 10 minutes. A left hook did the damage in the first round, a right hook in the second. Shlemenko, who was also cut near his left eye, staggered but refused to blink.

The champion made his move in round three and then found another gear in the fourth, where he floored Cooper with a wicked left hook. Though he survived, the Reign MMA export never
seemed to recover fully from the blow. Shlemenko punctuated his latest victory with three fifth-round takedowns.
Denmark’s Parlo Ousts Rogers

Parlo punished Rogers for 15 minutes.Takedowns, ground-and-pound, straight punching combinations and a sturdy chin drove Danish import Mikkel Parlo to a one-sided unanimous decision
over Brian Rogers in the Bellator Season 9 middleweight tournament quarterfinals.

Parlo (10-1, 2-1 Bellator) swept the scorecards by 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 counts.

Rogers (10-6, 3-4) fought in bursts but faded noticeably after the first five minutes. Parlo mounted him in the second round and did a number on him in the third.

In the closing seconds of their encounter, the 23-year-old Dane tore into Rogers with a devastating knee strike against the cage, nearly knocking “The Predator” unconscious. Parlo
trailed his wounded prey to the mat and unleashed a volley of standing-to-ground punches. The bell saved Rogers from a finish but could not save him from the scorecards.

The 29-year-old Rogers has lost three of his last four fights.
Butcher Dispatches Team Oyama’s Santana

The slick-grappling Butcher turned to his
striking to stop the BJJ ace Santana.Jason Butcher sent Team Oyama’s Giva Santana into retirement, as he stopped the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace on second-round punches in the Season 9
middleweight tournament quarterfinals. Santana (18-3, 2-2 Bellator) succumbed to the blows 72 seconds into round two and afterward announced his decision to walk away from MMA at the
age of 41.

Butcher (7-0, 4-0 Bellator) had no answer for the Brazilian on the ground in round one, as Santana struck for a takedown, passed his guard and grinded on him from top position before
moving briefly to mount.

The Jorge Gurgel protégé defended well against the submission game of “The Arm Collector” and pushed the fight to a second round. There, Butcher turned to his striking. He wobbled
Santana with a short right uppercut, floored him moments later and polished off the victory with strikes on the ground.
Replacement Ward Dismisses Torrey

Torrey’s left eye was a problem and Ward
viciously exploited it for the stoppage.Brennan Ward battered, bloodied and put away Justin Torrey with second-round punches in the Season 9 middleweight tournament quarterfinals. A
late replacement for Andreas Spang, Ward (7-1, 3-1 Bellator) drew the curtain 3:28 on his former sparring partner into round two.

Torrey (7-1, 2-1 Bellator) took charge in the first round, as he dodged an ill-advised heel hook, settled in guard and controlled his opponent with a heavy top game, ultimately
mounting him in the closing seconds. However, his good work came with a price.

The punishment Torrey had absorbed during early standup and ground exchanges left him with a badly damaged left eye.

In the second round, Ward targeted and succeeded in rupturing the swelling. He tagged the bleeding Torrey with a straight right, bullied him to the ground and ruthlessly attacked the
eye with short but effective hammerfists. Soon after, a series of unanswered blows forced the finish.
Filkins Choke Submits Kimball

Filkins wore Kimball down to tap him.Team Link’s Perry Filkins submitted Jeremy Kimball with a third-round rear-naked choke in the Season 9 middleweight tournament quarterfinals.
Kimball (10-4, 1-1 Bellator) conceded defeat 4:18 into round three, his career-best six-fight winning streak brought to a halt.

Kimball was in command at the start, as he mixed unorthodox kicks with sneaky punches and threw in four takedowns in the first round. In round two, Filkins sprawled on an attempted
takedown, moved to full mount and forced his bearded adversary to surrender his back.

The New Hampshire-based middleweight let loose with winging punches in the closing seconds. Only the bell saved the defenseless Kimball.

With momentum clearly in his favor, Filkins (8-1, 2-0 Bellator) picked up where he left off in the third round. He struck for another takedown and transitioned between mount and
Kimball’s back before locking down the choke.
Unbeaten Anderson Stuns ‘Pitbull’

Anderson’s jab was key to his victory.A vigorous jab, well-timed punching combinations and an unshakable resolve carried undefeated Team Xplode MMA prospect Derek Anderson to the most
significant win of his career, as he captured a unanimous decision over Patricky “Pitbull” Freire in a lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for
Anderson (10-0, 1-0 Bellator).

Freire (10-5, 3-4 Bellator) nearly finished it in the first round. He staggered Anderson with a pair of left hooks, delivered a takedown, moved to full mount and transitioned from an
armbar to a tight triangle choke.

The Californian slammed himself out of danger and escaped from Freire on the ground. From there, “Pitbull” faded.

Anderson turned the corner in round two, where he survived a clubbing right hand to the temple, kept Freire’s back to the cage and attacked from distance. The punches piled up for the
Californian, his offense all set up by the jab. “Pitbull” wore a discouraged look over the last half of the fight, losing for the fourth time in five appearances.

“I wasn’t scared,” Anderson said. “I thought he was a perfect opponent. I’m just excited to be here.”
Prelims: Mucitelli Eye Poke Leads to No-Contest

Nader unceremoniously suffered an errant
digit to the eye.An inadvertent eye poke from Mitch Mucitelli resulted in a no-contest 90 seconds into his encounter with Jeff Nader at 205 pounds; Josh Diekmann stopped Parker Porter
with punches 72 seconds into round one of their heavyweight duel; Ryan Quinn submitted Brylan Van Artsdalen with an arm-triangle choke 2:34 into the first round of their lightweight
tilt; Matt Bessette wiped out Nick Piedmont with punches 1:41 into round one of their clash at 145 pounds; and Rick DiSciullo knocked out Glenn Allaire with punches and forearm strikes
81 seconds into the first round of their bantamweight scrap.



arreaolaFit Arreola re-enters title picture

Former heavyweight title challenger puts in work to stay in contention for belt

By Dan Rafael |

Arreola KO’s Mitchell In First Round

Heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola sounded as though he had utter disdain for Seth Mitchell in the buildup to their fight. It’s as though he was insulted by the mere fact that he would even be matched with an opponent he felt was inferior to him.

“I’m going to make a statement and make sure that everyone remembers my fight,” Arreola said a few days before Saturday’s bout. “I’m going to embarrass this kid, Seth. That’s my job in there.”

And it didn’t end there.

Arreola, insulted by Mitchell’s remarks that he had lost whenever he had stepped up to face a serious opponent — Vitali Klitschko (in a 2009 world title fight), longtime contender and
former cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek and contender Bermane Stiverne all beat him — said that he would consider retirement if he lost to Mitchell.

Arreola also belittled Mitchell by saying that he was not a step up for him, but rather “I’m stepping down to you. You’re way down here. You’re a step down, and remember that. … He’s
going to regret he took this fight.”

Arreola was prophetic, because he laid waste to Mitchell, destroying him in a first-round knockout victory at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif.

The win resurrected Arreola’s career and set him on a path that could lead him to another world title shot.

Arreola had met Stiverne in a title elimination fight on April 27, with a shot at Klitschko at stake, and was heavily favored. But Stiverne is the one who earned the title opportunity,
dropping Arreola with a big right hand in the third round and breaking his nose in four places with the blow. Although Arreola survived, he couldn’t breathe properly for the rest of
the fight and lost a lopsided decision in the upset. Nose surgery followed.

But in preparation for the fight with Mitchell, Arreola did something he hasn’t done in a long time: He legitimately trained for a fight. He got himself in great shape by leaving his
hometown of Riverside, Calif., and relocating with trainer Henry Ramirez to Phoenix for a tough training camp.

It obviously paid off.

“I want to thank God and I want to thank myself for working hard,” Arreola said in yet another of his highly entertaining postfight television interviews, this one with Showtime’s Jim
Gray. “I’m the one who put the work in, not God. I was busting my ass off every day.

“I respect Seth for his power. He hits hard, [but it was] easy work because I put in the hard work in Arizona. No disrespect to Seth, but I came here on a mission and my mission was to

Mitchell (26-2-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Brandywine, Md., with the well-earned reputation of having a poor chin, had no chance against Arreola’s powerful arsenal. After a first minute of the
fight in which both men had some success, Arreola took over. He badly rocked Mitchell with a clean right hand. Mitchell’s legs were gone and he was smart enough to grab on to Arreola,
but he eventually went tumbling to the mat — although referee Jack Reiss ruled it a slip.

But the fight looked like it would be over very shortly. Arreola violently rocked Mitchell again with another right hand, followed by a left and another right, and this time Mitchell
legitimately went down. Mitchell is brave, though, and on shaky legs, he beat the count. But Arreola walked right to him and measured him for another series of big shots, including yet
another booming right hand that sent Mitchell staggering into the ropes. He was done, and Reiss jumped in to stop the carnage at 2 minutes, 26 seconds.

As big of a win as it was for the 32-year-old Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), it was a devastating defeat for Mitchell, who has now been knocked out inside three rounds in two of his past
three fights.

Last November, Mitchell, the former Michigan State linebacker whose NFL dreams were snuffed out by a knee injury, was the heavy favorite when Johnathon Banks dropped him three times in
the second round for the upset knockout victory. In the fight before that, Mitchell had nearly been knocked out by Chazz Witherspoon.

And when he met Banks in a rematch in June, Mitchell again was staggered multiple times, although he won a lopsided decision in an extremely cautious performance in which Banks barely
threw any punches.

As good of a guy as Mitchell is, and as tremendous of an athlete as he is, it must be clear to everyone by now that he simply doesn’t have the chin to compete in the upper echelon of
the heavyweight division.

Although Mitchell gently protested Reiss’ stoppage, it was clear he couldn’t continue.

“I got caught. I’m very disappointed right now,” Mitchell said. “I was very confident in my ability to win this fight, but Cris Arreola did what he was supposed to do. My heart just
hurts right now.”

Mitchell’s chances of fighting for a heavyweight title are likely dead and buried, but Arreola’s are alive and well.

The 42-year-old Klitschko is out because of an injury until at least early 2014, and it still remains to be seen if he will ever fight again. If he does, he owes Stiverne an overdue
mandatory fight.

But if Klitschko elects to retire — and there is serious talk that he will do just that and make a run at president of his home country, Ukraine — the title would become vacant and
Stiverne could very well wind up meeting Arreola for the belt.

Although the title situation will become more clear in time, one thing that is quite clear is that an in-shape Arreola is a scary beast.

“It’s good to see him inside the ring in tip-top shape,” said Dan Goossen, Arreola’s promoter, who has been waiting for this day for a long time. “That was the biggest victory we’ve
had in his career so far. He’s got his mind set to keep on getting in better and better shape. In tip-top shape, I don’t think there’s any heavyweight who can beat him. We’ve seen how
tough he is when he’s not in top shape. Being in shape has always been the missing ingredient.”

Goossen said Arreola’s team will now wait to see what Klitschko decides to do, although there was a prefight suggestion from Mitchell promoter Richard Schaefer, of Golden Boy, that the
Arreola-Mitchell winner could next meet top American prospect Deontay Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs), the powerful 2012 U.S. Olympic bonze medalist.

But that wasn’t something on Goossen’s mind.

“I think everything hinges on what Vitali Klitschko will do,” Goossen said. “If he fights, it will be against Stiverne and we will be sitting there to fight the winner. If Vitali
decides not to fight again, Cris would love to fight Stiverne for the vacated belt. My guess is that it’s 50-50 that [Klitschko] defends his title one more time. He’s been a great
champion and is entitled to make any decision he wants to make.”

Arreola knows what he wants to do. By beating Mitchell, he picked up a regional belt — but Arreola doesn’t care about that one.

“I want the big one,” Arreola said. “I want the world title; that’s what I’m looking for.”

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