Joe Warren defeated Rafael Silva by unanimous decision to earn the Bellator interim bantamweight title in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Friday night.
Warren recovered from early danger to come back and earn the judges’ decision with scores of 48-47 across the board.
“I’m so proud of myself. I don’t even know what to say,” Warren said after the win.
“So honored to get a second belt here in Bellator,” he added. “[I] went through war in here to get that, but I’ll keep this belt on as long as I can.”
Silva was relentless to open up the fight, working hard to get a takedown in the early moments. The two scrambled through several clinches before Warren attempted a front choke to no avail. Silva later had his foe back pedaling from punches landed on the feet, but Warren recovered and gained top position when his opponent stumbled to the floor where the round’s time expired.
Silva landed more strikes on the feet in the second round, including a pair of spinning back kicks. Warren was able to close the distance and secure some takedowns, but Silva engaged in scrambles and scored a few takedowns of his own. Neither fighter was able to gain a clear advantage when fighting for position in the clinch.
Warren opened up his hands at the beginning of the third round, landing a right hand that wobbled Silva. Later, Silva landed a right hand of his own, but was almost immediately taken down to the floor where Warren worked his ground and pound. Warren would remain in top position and work short strikes through the end of the round.
The fourth round had Warren applying pressure for two takedowns within the frame’s first two minutes. After Warren attempted to secure his back, Silva reversed position and then began to scramble for a takedown of his own. Warren fended off his opponent’s attempts, and the round’s time expired soon after.
Warren thoroughly worked for the clinch in the final round. At one point, he pressed Silva against the cage and landing an illegal knee that brought a halt in the action. Once the fight resumed, so did Warren’s clinching efforts, wrapping his arms around Silva and bringing the fight down to the cage floor. While there, Warren pounded away at his Brazilian foe with a variety of short strike’s until the fight’s time expired.
With the win, Warren improved his overall MMA record to 11-3 and became the first fighter in Bellator history to win titles in two different divisions.
In earlier action, Andrey Koreshkov scored a highlight-reel flying knee knockout over Justin Baesman.
After Baesman was backpedaling from punches landed by Koreshkov, the Russian fighter placed his knee squarely on his opponent’s chin and dropped him to the floor. After one more punch, the referee put a stop to the fight at 1:41 of the opening round.
Other fights on the card included Marcos Galvao winning a unanimous decision against Thomas Vasquez, as well as Liam McGeary completing a one-punch knockout of Mike Mucitelli.
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