Bellator 88 took place last night with the currents season’s featherweight tournament playing second fiddle to the crowning of a new middleweight champion. The fights that took place on the main card, for the most part, all had spectacular endings to them. The first fight of the 145-pound tournament took place between Russian Magomedrasul Khasbulaev and Fabricio De Assis Costa Da Silva, and besides having two of the hardest names to say in MMA, these two fighters put on a show. Khasbulaev took the win with an arm-triangle in the second round.
Next, Alexandre Bezerra faced Genair da Silva, and this one ended quick. Bezerra’s next opponent will have to watch out for his grappling skill as he picked up his tenth win by submission in this bout. Bezerra finished this fight in under two minutes by armbar. In the next round, he will face Mike Richman. Richman had a finish was just as spectacular as Bezerra’s, but he ended it on the feet. Richman was able to stop Mitch Jackson with only three seconds left in the first round. This will leave a striker-versus-grappler match in the semifinals between Richman and Bezerra.
Marlon Sandro has reached the finals of a Bellator tournament twice, but has failed to win gold both times. At 35-years old, Sandro had a lot to prove in his fight with Akop Stepanyan, who was coming off a loss. Sandro came away with a win, but it could have gone either way since he took a majority decision. He did not look like himself until the final round. Now he moves on to the semifinals and will have a grappling battle on his hands when he faces Khasbulaev.
Lastly, Bellator crowned a new middleweight champion after Hector Lombard vacated the title last year. The battle between two tournament champions in Maiquel Falcão and Alexander Shlemenko lived up to expectations. Falcão was winning through the first five minutes, but Shlemenko lived up to his nickname when he came out like a storm in the second round. Ripping away at Falcão with knees from the clinch, he finished the fight with a clean shot to the liver. In his post-fight interview, Shlemenko called himself the new face of the Bellator promotion, and with a performance like that it is hard to disagree with him.