Bellator 297 Review

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Bellator 297 was an entertaining night of fights that saw two world titles defended in highly competitive matchups. In the main event, Russian superstar Vadim Nemkov retained his championship in a high-paced 205-pound fight with Yoel Romero. Nemkov controlled the fight standing by landing damaging combinations against the cage and earned himself a unanimous decision victory.

In the Co-main event, Bellator Bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis turned back Featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” in his attempt to become Mixed Martial Art’s first three-weight world champion. Pettis landed dynamic kicks in the second and fourth rounds that staggered Pitbull and helped him pull away. Pettis retained his Bantamweight world title by unanimous decision in a hard-fought battle between Bellator greats. Also on the Bellator 297 main card, Corey Anderson was able to defeat Phil Davis by Split Decision in a potential Light Heavyweight title eliminator.

(C) Vadim Nemkov (16-2) vs #3 Yoel Romero (15-6)

Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov is the best 205-pound fighter in the world right now. This Friday Nemkov defended his title for the fourth time. Cruising to a unanimous decision victory in the Bellator 297 Main Event, Nemkov proved he is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport. Yoel Romero is a former Olympic Wrestler who is a powerful athlete even at 46 years old. Nemkov was able to outland Romero throughout the contest and showed his ever-evolving striking game.

In round one Nemkov controlled the cage early backing up Romero from the start. Nemkov landed hard kicks to the body and legs of Romero that backed him up against the fence. From there Romero started to shell up and protect himself. Nemkov landed hard punches followed by kicks that gave him an early lead. In round two Nemkov again pressured Romero on the feet. Romero did not seem interested in trying to take this fight to the ground, which may have been to his detriment. Romero’s most memorable moment in the fight came in round four. Romero was able to get inside on Nemkov and threw a left hand that partially connected but his elbow slammed into Nemkov’s head on following through on his punch. This resulted in Nemkov stumbling to the ground and Romero pouncing on top to look for a finish.

Result and Aftermath

The Chicago crowd was going insane for “The Soldier of God” but Nemkov was able to survive. Romero seemed to gas as the fight went on but understandably due to the output of Nemkov. Nemkov bounced back and won round five to cruise to a unanimous decision victory. Nemkov stated that he may consider going to Heavyweight to challenge for Ryan Bader’s championship in an attempt to become a double champ.

(C) Sergio Pettis (22-5) vs (C) Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (35-5)

In the Bellator 297 Co-Main event, Patricio “Pitbull Freire moved down in weight to challenge for Sergio Pettis 135-pound title in a historic attempt to become mixed martial arts’ first-ever three-weight world champion. Freire had never fought at Bantamweight in his Bellator career. Pettis was coming off an unbelievable knockout of top Japanese fighter Kyoji Horiguchi but had not competed in almost 18 months. This was a matchup of highly creative and dangerous strikers who put on a battle over 25 minutes.

In round one both fighters started off gauging distance and exchanging punches from the outside. “Pitbull” was trying to time powerful right hands while Pettis looked to dart in with combinations and then escape danger. Pettis was able to establish a damaging body kick in round two that he was able to find a home for repeatedly. This set Pettis up for a spinning back kick that wobbled Freire with a minute left in the second round. In rounds three and four Pettis was able to pull away picking apart “Pitbull” at a distance utilizing a stinging jab from the outside. Pettis landed a front kick in round four that snapped the head back of Freire and stunned him momentarily. Pettis seemed to be the faster fighter all night and showed impressive elusiveness defensively.

“Pitbull” fought valiantly in defeat but Pettis put together one of the best performances of his career defeating the Featherweight World Champion by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46). Pettis will face Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix tournament winner Patchy Mix in his next title defense.

#1 Corey Anderson (16-6) vs #2 Phil Davis (16-6)

In the featured fight of the Bellator 297 Main Card, perianal contender Corey Anderson faced former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. Anderson entered this fight as a slight betting favorite (-185) at online sportsbooks and was looking to get back in the win column after losing to Vadim Nemkov in the final of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix last November. Coming into this matchup Davis had won back-to-back fights against Julius Anglickas and Yoel Romero.

Both fighters fought for position against the cage early in round one. Anderson was able to land a sharp combination that backed Davis up. Anderson continued to pressure Davis and eventually found a takedown at the one-minute mark in round one. Davis was able to scramble to his feet and secure a body lock around Anderson against the fence. Highly level grappling exchanges dictated round one as Anderson seemed to have the upper hand after five minutes. Anderson was cut over the right eye near the end of round one but was able to control the round and dictate the pace on the feet. Both fighters exchanged jabs from the outside early in round two before clinching against the cage. Anderson appeared to get the better of the grappling exchanges in a close second round.

In the early stages of round three, Anderson continued to pressure Davis securing a takedown three minutes into the final round. Things started to heat up midway through round three as both fighters landed effectively on the inside. Both competitors were evenly matched possessing similar styles as former collegiate wrestlers. After three hard-fought rounds, the judges awarded the contest to Anderson by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

#10 Gokhan Saricam (8-2) vs #4 Daniel James (15-6).

To open the Bellator 297 Main Card, fan-favorite Daniel James took on the always dangerous Gokhan Saricam. Saricam was able to land a timely takedown late in round one and immediately secured another in the early stages of round two. Through one and a half rounds James was unable to stop the wrestling of Saricam. Saricam was able to control James on the ground for almost the entirety of round two. James was unable to get his offense going throughout the fight only landing nine total strikes over 15 minutes.

Saricam was in complete control over all three rounds landing 125 strikes and securing three takedowns. James seemed to tire as the contest went on getting out landed by nearly 100 total strikes. This was an impressive win for Saricam who came into hostile territory and dominated James in his hometown of Chicago. Saricam will continue to move up the Heavyweight rankings and has positioned himself for many potential intriguing matchups.

Bellator 297 Prelims:

The Bellator 297 prelims contained many entertaining fights, including a top-ten-ranked Light Heavyweight fight between Karl Moore and Alex Polizzi. Moore came into this fight on a three-fight win streak since signing with Bellator and defeated grapple-heavy opponents like Karl Albrektsson. Polizzi is a former collegiate wrestler in the Big Ten at Northwestern and may have been too one-dimensional in this fight against the well-rounded Moore. Ireland’s Moore is a lengthy prospect at 205 pounds (6-3) and utilized his reach advantage on the feet in this fight. Polizzi continually tried to take Moore down and had no answer for Moore’s straight punches. At times Polizzi would get Moore to the ground but was unable to do any significant damage or threaten submissions.

After three rounds the judges award Karl Moore a Split decision victory. This was Moore’s fourth win in a row as he made a massive statement to the rest of the division. Moore will likely be featured in the top five rankings and has positioned himself into a massive fight moving forward.

Results of other Bellator 297 Prelims:

Jordan Newman Def. Matthew Perry via Round one Submission (Americana).

Cody Law Def. Edwin Chavez via Unanimous Decision.

Archie Colgan Def. Emmanuel Sanchez Via Unanimous Decision.

Norbert Novenyi Jr. Def. Kamil Oniszczuk Via KO (Right Hand and Punches) in Round One.

Ramazan Kurmaomedov Def Jalel Willis via KO (Knee) in Round One.

Gadzhi Rabadanzov Def. Peiter Buist via Unanimous Decision.

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