On Friday, Feb. 13, Bellator MMA hosted its 133rd event from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.
The event was headlined by a middleweight clash between striking stalwarts Melvin Manhoef and Alexander Shlemenko. Manhoef, a veteran of more than 40 MMA bouts and nearly 50 kickboxing contests, looked to rebound from a violent, second-round knockout loss to Joe Schilling at Bellator 131 last fall. The Dutch-Surinamese fighter had ended 27 of his 29 wins by knockout. Across the cage, the former Bellator MMA champion Shlemenko was trying to snap a two-fight skid with the promotion. The Russian fell against Tito Ortiz last spring before losing his title to Brandon Halsey in September.
The co-main event of the evening featured another former title holder as featherweight Pat Curran aimed to erase the memory of his September loss to Patricio “Pitbull” Freire as he took on Season 10 tournament winner Daniel Weichel.
The event kicked off Friday with a preliminary card stream on Spike.com at 6:45 p.m. ET. The four-fight main card followed at 9 p.m ET on Spike.
Alexander Shlemenko looked to land spinning shots to end the fight and had trouble finding home for the kicks and backfists. It only took one to land to stop Melvin Manhoef. Manhoef did a good job of stopping Shlemenko’s takedowns in the first round and wasn’t overwhelmed on the feet. But it was the second round that saw that single spinning backfist finally go through and end Manhoef’s night. Shlemenko’s forearm landed flush on Manhoef’s chin, immediately dropping Manhoef like a statue and getting the referee to immediately step in. Shlemenko returned to the win column with the knockout.
The betting underdog Daniel Weichel was able to get the better of the striking to start the fight. Weichel was able to control the center of the cage and was aggressive in landing shots on Pat Curran. Weichel controlled the striking in the second round. Curran had little output to answer Weichel and eventually went for a takedown with less than two minutes remaining in the round. Curran attempted to step over into full mount, but Weichel was able to hold Curran at bay and end the round unscathed. Curran seemed to be the fresher of the two in the third round. Curran couldn’t finish his takedown as Weichel sprawled to avoid the shot. Weichel landed a short takedown of his own before the two returned to the feet. Weichel continued to counter Curran’s punches with more aggressive combinations and steal the decision from a rather passive Curran.
Julia Budd controlled and dominated the fight from start to finish. Gabrielle Holloway had no answer for Budd who repeatedly was able to get Holloway to the ground and grab her back. Despite spending the majority of the fight in a dominant position, Budd could not find a way to finish Holloway. Budd peppered Holloway with knees to the body and strikes. Holloway was able to land a hip toss to start the third, but Budd used an armbar to escape and stand back up. Holloway then attempted another takedown, but like the rest of her attempts, Budd was able to sprawl and work her way around Holloway. It was a easily earned decision for Budd, who had superior grappling to defeat Holloway.
Chris Honeycutt dominated the first two rounds with his wrestling. Clayton MacFarlane had no answer and fell victim to a bad second round. Honeycutt really opened in the second frame after sprawling on two of MacFarlane’s takedowns. Honeycutt threw hard shots to the body of MacFarlane and after one scramble, was able to keep the clinch. Honeycutt landed a hard knee that dropped MacFarlane with a minute left in the round, but Honeycutt could not find the finish. MacFarlane opened the third, getting the back of Honeycutt, but it did not last long. That was the highlight of the fight from MacFarlane who eventually succumbed to another takedown. MacFarlane turtled up and Honeycutt started throwing hard punches from the back. It didn’t take much for the referee to step in and for Honeycutt to get the late TKO victory.