Richard (Rare Breed) Hale weathered the early storm before putting Thiago (Big Monster) Santos away with punches in the main event of Bellator 79 in Rama, Ont., on Friday.
Santos wobbled Hale early and threatened with a standing guillotine choke before taking the fight to the mat. After the two returned to their feet, Hale dropped Santos with a nasty right to the temple and delivered a flurry of punches on the mat for the TKO victory.
“He definitely rocked me,” Hale said. “Nice to be back at heavyweight. The big question was can I get hit by a heavyweight and stay in there. You know I’m in here to stay and go for the belt.”
With the victory, Hale now takes on the victor of Vinicius Queiroz and Alexander Volkov in this season’s heavyweight-tournament finals. Queiroz and Volkov face at Bellator 80 in Hollywood, Fla. Nov. 9.
Hale said it doesn’t matter who he faces, he’s taking home the Bellator heavyweight championship, which was vacated when Cole Konrad retired earlier this year.
“Message is: I’m coming for that belt,” Hale said. “It already has my name on it, whether you like it or not.”
Shahbulat (Sha) Shamhalaev made quick work of Mike (The Marine) Richman in the co-main event, securing his spot in this season’s featherweight tourney finals.
After a brief feeling out process, Shamhalaev dropped Richman with a counter right. A few more punches on the mat and it was academic.
“I was able to get (the counter shot) in the first round and I’m very happy about that,” Shamhalaev said.
Shamhalaev will now face the winner of Wagnney Fabiano and Rad Martinez, who meet at Bellator 80.
Douglas (The Phenom) Lima returned to the win column, turning Jacob (Kobe the Stunna) Ortiz into a human punching bag.
The difference in striking was apparent from the start, as Lima frequently unloaded with sharp jabs, straights, knees and kicks. Ortiz offered little offence in return, continually attempting a telegraphed and sloppy one-two combination.
In the third round, Lima cracked Ortiz with a high kick. The former welterweight-title challenger then pounced with strikes for the TKO victory.
“With all due respect, the guy’s got a head made of bricks,” Lima said. “It’s always a pleasure fighting here in Canada.”
Ryan (The Real Deal) Ford won a hard-fought unanimous decision over tough-as-nails Kyle (Alley Cat) Baker.
Ford came out like a berserker, but was forced to slow things down after failing to put Barker away in the opening frame.
After eating some heavy shots in the second, Baker wrestled Ford to the mat, where he secured back control and threatened with a rear-naked choke attempt. Ford managed to reverse the position and enter Baker’s guard as the round ended.
Ford came out looking to wrestle in the third, securing a pair of double-leg takedowns. After escaping a rear-naked choke attempt, the Canadian delivered a flurry of punches and hammerfists as the fight came to a close.
After three rounds, the judges scored it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Ford.
“He has the old school moustache, so I brought it back old school,” Ford said “It was a bit wild.
“I want to thank Kyle Baker for taking the fight on short notice ... Of all the guys I’ve fought, he’s the toughest.”
Following the main card, Montreal’s Guillaume (Il Toro) DeLorenzi submitted Jonny (The King of Late Night) Carson with a rear-naked choke and Josh Appelt picked up a first-round TKO victory over Ed Carpenter.
Earlier in the evening Montreal’s Christ (The Beast) Franck won a close split decision over Vancouver capoeira stylist Marcus (Lelo) Aurelio in the final preliminary bout.
Undefeated Vitaly Minakov pushed his win streak to 10, finishing Laval, Que. heavyweight Vladimir Starcencov with punches in the second round.
The opening bout saw Magomedrasul (Frodo) Khasbulaev submit Josh (The Platypus) Pulsifer with a rear-naked choke.