GROCKE’S BELLATOR 181 LIVE REPORT 7/14: Girtz vs. Campos, Salter vs. Grove, Middleton vs. Ducote, Garcia vs. Warren

JULY 14, 2017



Bellator MMA’s one and only event in the month of July airs live from the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK. Michael Grocke here to keep you updated throughout Bellator 181.

Derek Campos squares off against Brandon Girtz for the third time. Campos won the first fight by unanimous decision at Bellator 96. They fought again at Bellator 146 where Girtz finished Campos in 37 seconds into the first round.

The co-main event features long time UFC and Bellator veteran Kendall Grove taking on the surging John Salter in a battle of middleweights. The four-fight main card rounds out with Jessica Middleton stepping in on short notice for the injured Valerie Letourneau taking on Emily Ducote in the women’s flyweight division and in the men’s bantamweight division Joe Warren goes up against Steve Garcia.



Jenn Brown welcomed viewers to the show and ran down the main card. She then threw it to Mauro Ranallo and Jimmy Smith for the start of the prelims.

(1) Katy Collins (6-2) vs. Bruna Vargas (2-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Result: Collins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

ROUND ONE: Katy Collins came out and immediately ran Vargas to the cage and kept her there until she was able to get her down with three minutes left in the round. Collins went for a guillotine with a minute and a half to go but Vargas fought out of it. Collins kept Vargas pinned against the cage doing just enough to not get separated for the remainder of the round.

ROUND TWO: They came out swinging center cage but Collins picked up where she left off with Vargas pinned to the cage. Collins scored a take down with 2:30 left. After Collins remained in top control, they were finally stood up with thirty seconds left. Believe it or not, Collins again pinned Vargas against the cage to ride out the round.

ROUND THREE: The third round started exactly like the previous two rounds. With 3:30 left the ref separated them and the two traded punches with Vargas getting the better of the exchanges.  With 1:50 Collins had enough of eating punches and ran Vargas to the cage. She too Vargas’ back with 1:15 left and rode her until time ran out.

 (2) Aaron Rodriguez (0-0) vs. Romero Cotton (0-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.

Result: Cotton by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)

ROUND ONE: Cotton took Rodriquez down thirty seconds in but Rodriquez fought well from underneath and they were back up with just over three minutes left. Rodriquez landed a nice shot but was taken down again. Rodriquez went for a triangle with two minutes left but Cotton fought out of it. They were back to their with 40 seconds left. Cotton scored his third take down with 10 seconds left and remained on top until the round ended.

Jimmy Smith went with Rodriquez due to his submission attempts, but I disagree. Cotton scored three take downs and fought from top position throughout the round.

ROUND TWO: Cotton scored a take down a minute in. Cotton was still fighting from top position half way through the round. They were stood up with 1:45 left. Rodriquez landed a few shots that Cotton wanted nothing to do with and scored another take down. Rodriguez worked for more submissions from underneath but they came less frequent this round. The round ended with Cotton working from top position.

ROUND THREE: They stood and traded punches with Rodriguez getting the better of the exchanges. Cotton looked hurt and shot in and  scored a take down. Rodriguez reversed position and worked for an arm bar with 2:30 left. Cotton rolled and took over top position with under two minutes to go. Cotton laid and prayed with some ground and pound sprinkled in for the remainder of the round.

(3) Kemmyelle Haley (7-4) vs. Logan Storley (5-0) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Result: Storley by KO (1:44 of Round 1)

ROUND ONE: Storley landed a take down as the fight started and landed vicious elbows from on top and the ref stopped it due to Haley not intelligently defending himself.

Highlights of Bellator NYC were shown.

(4) AJ Matthews (8-6) vs. Andre Fialho (8-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Result: Fialho by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

ROUND ONE: There was an extended feeling out process. Both guys landed some nice shots on the feet but Matthews looked to be doing more damage. Fialho scored with a take down with just over a minute to go. He was able to take Matthews’s back where he sunk in a rear naked choke but Matthews was able to ride out the last 12 seconds.

ROUND TWO: Both guys came out and decided it was time to let their hands go with Fialho getting the better of the exchanges. With three minutes left Matthews ran Fialho to the cage but Fialho spun out of there quickly. They were back to canter with just over two minutes left. Fialho lookes to have hurt Matthews but fell while trying to land a kick. Matthews took top position and worked his ground and pound with 1:30 left and that’s how the round ended.

ROUND THREE: Matthews dropped Fialho twenty seconds in but was up quickly. Fialho started landing big shots of his own a minute in. Matthews did some damage in the clinch before he took Fialho down at the three minute mark. Fialho was up and created distance with 2:25 to go. Fialho looked to gas out and Matthews took advantage by taking him down, taking his back and landing ground and pound. Fialho was able to get back to his feet with 15 seconds left but wasn’t able to do anything.

(5) Valentin Moldavsky (5-1) vs. Carl Seumanutafa (10-7) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

Result: Moldavsky by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)

ROUND ONE: Moldavsky caught a kick and scored with a take down 30 seconds into the fight. Moldavsky landed extended ground and pound until he took his back with two minutes left. Seumanutafa got to his feet for a brief moment back was taken right back down where Moldavsky landed more punishment from on top. All Moldavsky.

Seumantafa’s corner told him, don’t just sit there and get hit. Excellent advice.

ROUND TWO: Moldavsky worked in some dirty boxing against the cage until Big John separated them with 3:30 left. Big John might as well have just repositioned them where they were because Moldavsky got Seumanutafa in the exact same position. John separated them again with 1:18 left. Moldavsky got a take down and worked ground and pound with just under a minute left and that’s how the round ended.

ROUND THREE: Moldavsky went low with a knee 30 seconds in. Moldavsky took Seumanutafa down at the 3:40 mark. Seumanutafa was able to get back to his feet but it looked like he had nothing left at that point. Moldavsky was able to keep the pressure on as Seumanutafa just kept backing into the fence the remainder of the fight.

(6) Mike Rhodes (10-4) vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. (5-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.

Result: Lovato by submission (1:50 of Round 1- rear naked choke)

ROUND ONE: They spent the first minute and a half trading punches and kicks while on the feet. Lovato landed a take down, took the back and sunk in a rear naked choke.

Main Card 

(7) Joe Warren (14-6) vs. Steve Garcia (7-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

ROUND ONE: Warren shoots instantly but Garcia defends it and catches Warren with a left hook. Warren brushes it off and shoots again, but this time he finishes it and takes top control a minute in. Warren keeps the pressure on by landing shots from on top. He takes the back as Garcia works to his feet with just over two minutes to go. With a minute left Warren continues to be stuck to Garcia. Warren just rides out the round holding onto Garcia but it was effective enough to not get separated by the ref.

10-9 Warren

ROUND TWO: Twenty seconds in Warren grabs a single and finishes it with a take down. Garcia explodes up and Warren pins him against the cage. Warren trips Garcia to the mat at 3:30 and lands some right hands to the face of Garcia. Warren has Garcia’s back just as did in the first round. Garcia is doing everything he can to break free but Warren is stuck onto him like Velcro. The crowd gets restless with 30 seconds left. Garcia goes for a Kimura from bottom but Warren defends it as the round ends.

10-9 Warren

ROUND THREE: Garcia needs a finish here. Garcia tries to keep distance to start the round but Warren isn’t having any of it. He shoots and scores with another take down a minute in. Warren works from top position at the 3:30 mark. With two minutes left to go Garcia has yet to improve his position. Warren is just relentless with his wrestling. The crowd starts booing with just over a minute to go. Warren is staying busy enough to not get stood up, but it does make for a boring fight. Under 30 seconds and nothing has changed. The fight ends and it’s your typical Joe Warren grinding victory.

10-9 Warren

Result: Warren by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Grocke’s Analysis: The crowd boos as Jimmy Smith interviews him in the cage and Warren says I hear you all cheering. Funny. What can you say? He won with his wrestling which is what Joe Warren does. This was a typical Warren fight. It’s exactly what I expected. 

(8) Emily Ducote (5-2) vs. Jessica Middleton (2-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

ROUND ONE: Middleton comes out and immediately tries to establish distance but Ducote runs her to the fence and lands knees and foot stomps in the clinch. She goes for a take down but Middleton fights it off and they clinch against the fence. At the 3 minute mark Middleton pushes Ducote off, lands a punch but is pinned against the cage again. Ducote goes for a single and drags Middleton down. Middleton gets back to her feet instantly and back to the clinch. Middleton lands a few elbows with her back to the fence but Ducote is able to drag her to the mat. With 30 seconds left Ducote works from on top. Back to their with ten seconds left and Ducote goes for another take down but the round ends.

10-9 Ducote

ROUND TWO: Jessica Middleton starts the round trying to keep distance, but again Ducote shoots in and is able to finish the take down a minute in. Ducoye passes into mount, but Middleton is able to reverse and is now in top position with just under three minutes to go. Middleton traps Ducote’s left arm under her and lands short punches to the side of Ducote’s head. Ducote frees her arm and goes for an arm bar. If she can extend it the fight is over. Middleton fights it and is out with 30 seconds left. Middleton gets herself, postures up and lands a few punches as the round ends.

10-9 Ducote, but a much tougher round to score.

ROUND THREE: Just like the previous two rounds, Middleton comes out trying to establish her jab but Ducote just shoots in and lands another take down. Ducote works from on top at the four minute mark. Ducote transitions to side control. Now to full mount with three minutes left. Middleton tries to defend but gives up her back and Ducote goes for the rear naked choke. 90 seconds left for Ducote to finish it. Middleton fights it off under a minute left. With 15 seconds Ducote transitions to an arm bar attempt but Middleton is saved by the horn.

10-9 Ducote

Result: Ducote by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28) 

Grocke’s Analysis: All Emily Ducote in this one. Credit to Jessica for taking the fight on short notice, but she just couldn’t defend the take down which cost her the fight. This was a good win for Ducote and she continues to get better. I’m a big fan of hers. Ducote says she doesn’t call people out, she just fights. Come on Emily, you can do better than that. 

(9) John Salter (13-3) vs. Kendall Grove (23-16) – Middleweight 185 lbs.

ROUND ONE: Both fighters come out throwing kicks. Two minutes in and all that’s landed for either fighter is kicks. Grove starts to use his jab to maintain distance effectively. Salter eats a left hook as he shoots in and scores with a take down. He takes Grove’s back with under a minute to go. He sinks in a rear naked choke and Grove goes to sleep.

Result: Salter by submission (4:37 of Round 1 – rear naked choke)

Grocke’s Analysis: Wow, it looked like Grove was starting to establish distance by using his jab and kicks well. Salter was having trouble getting inside until finally deciding to take a chance by shooting in for a take down. He ate a left hook from Grover but got the take down and immediately took the back. Salter calls himself the best middleweight in Bellator during his post fight interview with Jimmy Smith. Nice.

(10) Brandon Girtz (14-6) vs. Derek Campos (18-6) – Catchweight 158 lbs.

ROUND ONE: Both guys come out looking to throw hands. Girtz lands a few nice shots, but Campos comes back with a few of his own. Neither guy is scared to unload here, they are throwing every punch with bad intentions. Girtz with a strong liver kick at the 2:20 mark. Gritz lands a huge over hand right hand that cuts Campos open over the left eye. Girtz is now a bloody mess as well. Girtz is sporting a crimson mask, Ric Flair style.

10-9 Campos

I’m surprised they are letting Girtz continue with that gash in the middle of his forehead.

ROUND TWO: They come out throwing bombs to start the second round. This is the real version of Rock “em Sock ’em Robots, this is incredible. Girtz lands a big right hand at the 3 minute mark, but Campos comes right back with a shot that hurts Girtz. Big knee to the gut for Girtz. I don’t think there has been one take down attempt. These guys are just teeing off on one another. Big John calls time for the doctor to clean up Girtz. The crowd is loving it. Both guys have been hurt so this is a tough round to score. They trade uppercuts with 45 seconds left. Campos goes down for a split second but it was hard to tell if it was a slip or from a punch. Regardless Girtz can’t capitalize. They trade a few more big shots as the round ends.

10-9 Campos

The doctor stops the fight in between rounds.

Result: Campos by TKO (5:00 of Round 2) 

Grocke’s Analysis: Sweet Jesus that was crazy. Neither fighter took a backward step in that fight. Girtz looks pretty emotional during the post fight interview. They hug after the interviews. That was tremendous, just an unreal fight. I encourage you to go out of your way to see that fight.

I really enjoy the way Bellator paces their shows. The main event was incredible and overall I enjoyed the show. Thanks for following along with me tonight. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog


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