Bellator Fighting Championships returned to Atlantic City, N.J. to end its historic fifth season LIVE on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX from Caesars Atlantic City. While two tournament finals were scheduled for Bellator 59, only one Tournament Championship was decided as Eduardo Dantas collected an impressive win over Alexis Vila in the Bantamweight Finals. The Heavyweight Finals was declared a no contest, as Thiago Santos delivered what was ruled an accidental illegal blow to the groin of Eric Prindle, which eventually halted the fight and was declared a no contest.
The Bantamweight Finals pitted the promising Dantas against the undefeated Cuban Alexis Vila. The first round saw Vila control the pace with a pair of takedowns and continued pressure. Dantas came out strong in the second and put Vila on tilt, stuffing multiple takedown attempts and landing lots of knees while tying up Vila against the cage. In the third round, Dantas took over Vila’s back on a failed takedown attempt and rode out the remainder of the round while attempting to finish his opponent with a rear naked choke. The judges felt it was enough to award Dantas the unanimous decision victory, and a title shot in Bellator’s sixth season.
Current Bellator Bantamweight Champion Zach Makovsky met with Dantas in the cage after the fight and said, “I think he’ll be the toughest fight of my career. You couldn’t ask for a greater challenge.”
In the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Finals, Santos took over right away by ducking some big punches by Prindle and putting him on his back twice. However once Santos got him there, the imposing Santos stood up and kicked Prindle right between the legs. The fighters were separated and Prindle was given the full five minutes to recover, but couldn’t continue and the main event was ruled a no contest. A rematch will be scheduled for early next year.
Marcin Held returned to the Bellator cage for the first time since losing in the quarterfinals of the Season 4 Bellator Lightweight Tournament to current Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. Held found himself in another tough fight at Bellator 59 with UFC veteran Phillipe Nover. Held was extremely technical trying submission after submission, including a rolling kneebar in the very first round when the referee stepped in to stand up the fight. Nover held dominant position for most of the fight but was often the one in the most trouble. The judges felt Held did enough for the victory, and was awarded the win by split decision.
In a heartbreaker for hometown fans from New Jersey, Kurt Pellegrino lost by TKO to former lightweight tournament runner-up Patricky Pitbull. The dangerous Pitbull delivered a devastating combination blow to a stunned Pellegrino, dropping the New Jersey native to the mat less than a minute into the fight. Pellegrino latched on to a nearby leg of Pitbull’s but ate four or five unanswered punches on the ground and the ref stepped in to put a stop to the contest.
Pellegrino addressed the supportive crowd after the fight, and announced his retirement inside the Bellator cage.
“I started my career in Atlantic City and I wanted to end it in Atlantic City too, so I’m glad Bellator gave me this fight,” Pellegrino said.
“Tonight, Eduardo Dantas went from the #1 prospect in the world to a world-class fighter who will pose a spectacular challenge for our Bantamweight World Champion Zach Makovsky,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Patricky Pitbull further established himself as one of the most electrifying lightweights in the world by stopping Kurt Pellegrino early in the first. And, while it’s never ideal to end a night, nevertheless a tournament with a no contest, those things are going to occasionally happen in this game.”