The Bren Events Center in Irvine, California was alive as Bellator MMA returned to the venue for the first time in two years.
In the main event, Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks defended his title against the challenger Dave Jansen. Brooks defended his title for the first time since winning the vacant belt in a bout against former champion Michael Chandler.
“I’m always trying to challenge myself and be the best lightweight in the sport,” said Brooks immediately after his 25 minute title defense. “I didn’t feel that I did my best, I’m going back to the gym to figure out what I can do better.”
The co-main event featured Glory Kickboxing crossover star Joe Schilling facing off against Rafael Carvalho.
While Schilling certainly excelled at his forte for most of the fight, he came up short against Carvalho’s grappling. However, he showed a tendency to fight through and even attempt a few submissions of his own. Carvalho though was able to excel overall in the fight and came out with a hard fought split decision victory.
Also on the card was a match to determine Brooks’ next title defense.
European fighters Tiger Sarnavskiy and Marcin Held fought in a very tight battle.
Both men proved to be very dangerous strikers and also good at submissions but where Sarnavskiy lacked in the ground game, Held more then excelled. There were several submission attempts though out the first and second rounds. However, it was in the third that Held was able to secure Sarnavskiy’s leg and force the submission.
Held’s submission was so secure and so quick that Sarnavskiy had to be helped out of the cage and into the locker room by members of his corner while Held secured his place as the next in line for the lightweight title shot.
In the opening fight of the main card, Alexander Volkov returned to action looking to establish himself back onto the road of a title shot. However, heavyweight prospect Tony Johnson had other plans in looking to spoil the former heavyweight champion’s plans.
Despite several times when he got in some good shots, Volkov found his overall game plan smothered by Johnson’s constant use of the cage and clinch to utilize dirty boxing. Johnson came away with a decision and a major upset in his sophomore effort in the promotion.
Bellator next heads to Temecula, California for Bellator 137 at Pechanga Hotel and Resort.