This past Friday FightBook MMA correspondent Richard Chavez was live at Save Mart center to give us a up close look at all the action live at Bellator.

Bellator 125 was an exhilarating “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” event held at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA on September 19, 2014. With all finishes on the televised main card along with many on the prelims from local talent and the featured fight between hard-hitters Doug Marshall and Bellator debut of Melvin Manhoef, MMA fans were served a top-notch dream event.

Melvin Manhoef (28-11-1) vs. Doug Marshall (18-7)

In the heavily-anticipated middleweight feature fight, Netherlands’ Manhoef and Visalia’s Marshall enter the cage and look prepared to fight like they are going to destroy each other. The lively Fresno crowd seems split in support of the former kickboxing champion and the former WEC champion. Referee Jason Herzog signals the bout to begin and the fighters touch gloves before they throw punches. Manhoef takes control after both fighters land blows. A low blow after a combination from Manhoef pauses the action until Marshall is recovered. The fight resumes after a short break. Manhoef continues his combinations. Marshall answers with a forward attacking combination. Manhoef backs up Marshall into the cage with an overhand right and proceeds to land low kicks. Manhoef baits a right hook to Marshall’s body and follows up with a right hand to the temple putting Marshall face-first asleep on the mat. Dutchman Manhoef wins by TKO at 1:45 in round 1 increasing his total to 27 KO’s in his MMA career.

Rafael Carvalho (9-1) vs. Brian Rogers (11-6)

The co-main event features promotional newcomer Carvalho starting off Bellator run against Bellator vet Rogers in a middleweight brawl. Rogers holds one of the most notable KO’s in Bellator history. Carvalho enters on an impressive 9-fight win streak. Rogers starts the fight being the aggressor with low kicks. Rogers lands a right hand all while Carvalho is feeling out his range. The two fighters clinch and Rogers lands good shots before taking Carvalho to the mat. Rogers attempts a guillotine but to no avail. Carvalho is up and the fighters center. Although Rogers started well, he is starting to slow down. Carvalho clinches and lands a knee that weakens Rogers. Carvalho follows up with a barrage of punches while Rogers is against the fence. A right hand sends the Bellator vet to the ground but he is holding his ground. Rogers tries to get to his feet but is not doing much to stop the big punches Carvalho is landing. Referee Marcos Rosales stops the fight at 3:06 in round 1. The Brazilian Carvalho wins by TKO. At the end of the fight, Jimmy Smith walks up to the cage to interview Carvalho but for some reason he leaves without doing any interview

Javy Ayala (7-3) vs. Raphael Butler (8-0-1)

This heavyweight bout is between Porterville’s Ayala and Rochester’s Butler. The crowd is wildly behind local fighter Ayala. This fight starts off quick with Ayala attacking Butler with a left-right combination and then presses him against the cage. Ayala tries for an underhook and then switches to a takedown slamming his opponent on the canvas. Ayala quickly goes for a rear-naked choke. Butler grimaces and taps out. The crowd is ecstatic. Ayala tapped out Butler at 1:03 in round 1.

Martin Stapleton (13-3) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (17-2)

England’s Stapleton takes on Brazil’s Yamauchi in a featherweight match-up. This is the first televised bout on Spike. Yamauchi is quick to attempt a single leg. He eventually switches to an omoplata and holds on throwing punches. Stapleton rolls out of a shoulder lock. Yamauchi then takes Stapleton’s back to lock up a body triangle. The Brazilian attempts a rear-naked choke but the Brit is good at preventing its success. They continue on the ground until Stapleton bucks his way out getting into half guard. The fighters continue on the ground for awhile. Yamauchi takes Stapleton’s back again and eventually sinks the rear-naked choke in deep enough to make him tap. Yamauchi wins by submission at 4:37 in round 1 bringing his total wins by submission to 14.

None of the fights on the main card made it out of the first round, let alone to decision. The total fight time for the main card was 10:31. This left much downtime in between fights and a couple of the prelim fights were replayed and re-aired as filler on Spike including Aaron Wilkinson vs. Chris Honeycutt and Julio Cesar vs. Poppies Martinez.

Joe Neal (3-0) vs. Paul Ruiz (5-

A bantamweight California fighter match-up between Oakland’s Neal and Firebaugh’s Ruiz headlines the prelims airing on The crowd is distinctively louder for the local fighter Ruiz. Round 1 begins with the two taking jabs in the center to feel out their respective opponent. They circle and Ruiz seems to follow Neal to try to jab him and throws a kick. Neal responds with a kick. Ruiz attempts a takedown to no avail. Ruiz attempts a guillotine but Neal brings him to the mat into half guard. Neal lands punches and eventually gets to his feet

Second round starts of similar to the first round. The fighters throw and counter most punches. The round continues uneventfully and ends with a takedown by Neal. After working top position, Neal decides to stand. He sends his opponent a low lick and Ruiz responds with a right hand. The round ends with little more excitement.

The third round opens with Neal showing off fancy footwork and jabs. Ruiz makes few connections as he is off on his range. Ruiz then goes for a successful takedown but Neal bounces back to his feet. The Oakland native then takes down his opponent. The two fighters return to their feet before Neal tripping Ruiz. Neal stays in his opponent’s guard and is throwing elbows. Neal is the more active and controlling fighter. Toward the end of the round, he stands and then dives into the guard of Ruiz to follow-up with hammerfists. The bell rings and it goes to decision. All three judges score the bout for the winner Joe “9 Lives” Neal (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Oscar Ramirez (3-1) vs. Matt Ramirez (Pro Debut)

In the only bout in the recently-added flyweight division at this event, Reno’s Oscar Ramirez took on Santa Clara’s Matt “The Machine” Ramirez in his professional debut. As soon as the bout started, the flyweights headed toward the center of the cage with Oscar Ramirez striking first. Matt Ramirez tries for a high kick that misses and he slips. Matt Ramirez gets back up and gets an outside trip on Oscar Ramirez that sends him to the canvas. As Oscar Ramirez scrambles to get out from under “The Machine,” Matt Ramirez finds an opening for armbar. He steps over Oscar Ramirez and torques his arm in spectacular fashion until he is tapping, not even a minute into the fight. Matt “The Machine” Ramirez defeats Oscar Ramirez by arm bar submission at 0:42 in round 1.

Julio Cesar Neves (29-0) vs. Poppies Martinez (29-10)

Brazil’s Neves and local native Martinez are the second featherweight bout. Neves is a 20-year-old undefeated prospect nicknamed “Morceguinho.” 31-year-old Martinez nicknamed the “Tachi Kid” has held the Tachi Palace title. The fight begins with Martinez going for a low kick. Neves jabs to find his distance. He lands leg kicks on Martinez and starts taunting him. This goes on for a bit. Martinez is moving slowly around the cage. Neves lands a powerful spinning back kick that sends Martinez to the ground. The “Tachi Kid” is still on the ground defending punches from Neves. Then Neves lets Martinez up only to knee him back to the ground. “Morceguinho” lands more shots continuously and Martinez does not respond. Referee Jason McCoy stops the fight at 2:16 in round 1 due to unanswered strikes. Neves now improved his record to 30-0.

honey comb

Aaron Wilkinson (11-6) vs. Chris Honeycutt (4-0)

In this welterweight fight, Manchester, England’s Wilkinson takes on Fresno’s Honeycutt. The crowd is loud for this match-up as local NCAA wrestler Dethrone’s Honeycutt walks out with Josh Koscheck. The first round begins with Honeycutt stopping a takedown attempt by Wilknson. Honeycutt then sinks a double-leg against the fence and tosses Wilkinson to the canvas. Honeycutt begins ground and pound on his opponent. He lands short elbows while Wilkinson attempts to escape. This lasts until Honeycutt chooses to stand up by the end of the round.

In the second round Honeycutt lands punches to Wilkinson’s body. Honeycutt attempts a kimura and then returns to punching Wilkinson repeatedly. After more punches to the body and head, Referee Jason McCoy warns Wilkinson to fight back. Wilkinson does not advance and Referee McCoy stops the punishment at 4:45 in round 2 by TKO due to unanswered strikes.

Art Becerra (4-4) vs. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (2-0)

This is the last of the featherweight bouts. The first round begins with Becerra jabbing Bonilla-Bowman to which he returns with a right hand. Becerra hits Bonilla-Bowman with a right hand that spins him. Becerra continues landing strikes while being stalked by his opponent. Becerra throws combos and mixes them with his kicks. Becerra takes Bonnila-Bowman to the ground for a split second before the round ends.

In the second round, Becerra opens with a kick and follows with a right hand. Becerra continues circling for most of the round. Bonilla-Bowman is doing best with low kicks throughout the rest of the round.

Becerra starts off the aggressor in the third round and they both are moving fast. Bonilla-Bowman continues with kicks to his opponent’s leg. Becerra lands a jab that wobbles Bonilla-Bowman. Becerra takes his back only briefly before Bonilla-Bowman gets away and fires off more kicks. Bonilla-Bowman stalks and puts more pressure on Becerra. After a failed takedown by Bonilla-Bowman, Becerra tags his opponent with a hard right hand that makes his opponent wobbly. It looks like he is going to go down but Becerra is unable to grab a hold of Bonilla-Bowman or land another good shot that can knock him down before the round ends. It goes to decision and the judges are split. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman defeats Art Becerra by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). The crowd is booing the decision.

MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)
Melvin Manhoef def. Doug Marshall via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:45
Rafael Carvalho def. Brian Rogers via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:03
Javy Ayala def. Raphael Butler via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:03
Goiti Yamauchi def. Martin Stapleton via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:37
Joe Neal def. Paul Ruiz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Matthew Ramirez def. Oscar Ramirez via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 0:42
Chris Honeycutt def. Aaron Wilkinson via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:45
Julio Cesar Neves def. Poppies Martinez via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:16
Jonny Bonilla-Bowman def. Art Becerra via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jesse Juarez def. Ron Keslar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
George Zuniga def. Granson Clark via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:34
  • Nate James vs. Anthony Ruiz via. Split desision

By: Richard Chavez

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