By: Stephen Rivers
After following his long, yet ultimately disappointing, UFC tenure up with a 1-1 run in World Series of Fighting, Bellator 141 was supposed to mark a new beginning for Melvin Guillard. Three rounds, one big right hand, and a handful of powerful takedowns later, Guillard had been shoved back into the middle of Bellator’s lightweight pack by an impressive performance from Brandon Girtz.
The first round was all Girtz, a right hand stunning the Bellator debutant before an emphatic takedown saw Guillard slammed to the mat. Guillard was able to get back to his feet but was lifted and dropped on his back again. This time, Girtz had landed in side control where he remained for the rest of the round.
Guillard tried to keep the fight standing early in round two, but the “Young Assassin” was again slammed down to the mat after missing with a right hand. Much like the first round, once Guillard was able to scramble back to his feet he was put down hard again. An armbar attempt from Girtz allowed Guillard to disengage, but after being unable to tag Girtz on the feet, he was taken down again towards the end of the round.
The mandate for the third was clear. Guillard had to finish the fight if he wanted to make a winning start to his Bellator career. An early Girtz takedown suggested that was unlikely, but when John McCarthy stood the fighters back up with less than two minutes on the clock, Guillard seized the opportunity to mount a final attack. Punches and knees were attempted as Guillard swarmed, but it was not enough as the fight went to the scorecards.
While one judge had inexplicably scored the bout 29-28 for Guillard, the two remaining judges had scored 29-27 in favor of Brandon Girtz. It was the 30-year-old’s fifth win from seven Bellator contests, improving his record to 13-4 overall. For Guillard it was his seventh defeat from his last 11.
Pitbull Outworks Awad and Calls for Title Shot
In the co-main event Patricky “Pitbull” Freire moved one step closer to a shot at Bellator’s lightweight title, currently held by Will Brooks.
After a tentative first round, the older of Bellator’s Pitbull Brothers started to land the cleaner shots, picking Awad apart en route to a decision win. All three judges scored 30-27 in the Brazilian’s favor.
The win moves Freire to 14-6, with four wins from his last five. The sole loss during that time was to Marcin Held, who will challenge Will Brooks for the lightweight title at Bellator 145, November 6.
Wins for the Big Pygmy and Marloes Coenen
Earlier in the night Justin Wren made a triumphant return to the cage after a five-year absence, beating Josh Burns by unanimous decision. The judges scored 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 in his favor.
Despite showing signs of ring rust, the result of a five-year layoff that saw Wren spend time with the Mbuti Pygmies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and devote himself to helping improve their plight, “the Big Pygmy” did enough to earn a comfortable victory.
The opening bout was supposed to pit Lorenzo Hood against Raphael Davis, but when Hood was forced to pull out injured it was a featherweight contest between Marloes Coenen and Arlene Blencowe that was bumped up to the main card.
Blencowe provided a game challenge, trying to assume the role of aggressor where possible, but Coenen’s experience and class told as she controlled the majority of the action. After dominating on the mat throughout the first round, Coenen was able to finish with an armbar at 3:23 of the second. It was the 23rd win of Coenen’s long career, moving her to 2-0 inside the Bellator cage.
Brandon Girtz def. Melvin Guillard – via split decision
Patricky Freire def. Saad Awad – via unanimous decision
Justin Wren def. Josh Burns – via unanimous decision
Marloes Coenen def. Arlene Blencowe – via submission (armbar) 3:23 Rd2
Ilima-Lei MacFarlane def. Maria Rios – via split decision
Brent Primus def. Derek Anderson – via split decision
A.J. Matthews def. Emiliano Sordi – via TKO (retirement) 5:00 Rd1