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HONOLULU – For the first time in Bellator history, wild card bouts were in play for a grand prix, and they both took place Friday.
Sabatello (12-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) competed first with a wrestling-based, ground-and-pound-heavy, lopsided decision win over Jornel Lugo (8-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA). There was no love lost coming into the matchup, as is usually the case with fights Sabatello partakes in.
Jornel Lugo and Danny Sabatello exchange some words after round 1️⃣ 🗣️
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) April 23, 2022
Relentless pacing and takedowns opened up the door for ground strikes from Sabatello as Lugo struggled to escape. Lugo did just enough to avoid a finish, but not enough to avoid 10-8 scorecards from the judges. Sabatello swept the scorecards with unanimous 30-26s across the board.
The co-main event came next, as Barzola (18-5-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) defeated Nikita Mikhailov (9-2 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
A more competitive fight than the first wild card bout of the evening, the contest was still largely dominant, this time in favor of Barzola. Another wrestling-heavy attack, Barzola mixed together all aspects of his ground game to threaten submissions and maintain control.
At multiple points in the fight, Barzola appeared to have a deep submission locked, but Fedor Emelianenko protege Mikhailov wiggled and bucked his way out of danger. While Mikhailov hung tough defensively, the lack of offense was obvious and led to him losing all three rounds from all three judges.
Enrique Barzola nearly had it locked in and Nikita Mikhailov managed to slip out.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) April 23, 2022
With the wins, both fighters have their next matchups already booked for June 24 at Bellator 282. The event takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena. Sabatello will face Pitbull Brothers’ underling Leandro Higo (21-5 MMA, 4-3 BMMA). On the same card, Barzola will battle Zabit Magomedsharipov teammate Magomed Magomedov (18-2 MMA, 2-1 BMMA).
Bellator 278 took place Friday at Neal S. Blaisdell Center as the first of a two-night doubleheader at the venue.
The up-to-the-minute Bellator 278 results include:
Champ Juliana Velasquez vs. Liz Carmouche – for women’s flyweight title
Enrique Barzola def. Nikita Mikhailov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – bantamweight grand prix wild card
Danny Sabatello def. Jornel Lugo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26) – bantamweight grand prix wild card
Grant Neal def. Christian Edwards via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Manny Muro def. Nate Andrews via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Weber Almeida def. Fabricio Franco via TKO (referee stoppage) – Round 1, 3:01
Dante Schiro def. Scotty Hao via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:03
Blake Perry def. Makoa Cooper via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 2, 4:14