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Bellator Milan/230 Recap: Vadim Nemkov submits Rafael Carvalho, Alessio Sakara gets easy win

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On Saturday, Bellator returned with another doubleheader event. In the early afternoon, Bellator Milan went down with Alessio Sakara facing Canaan Grigsby in his home country.

Then in the evening, Bellator 230 saw former middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho make his move up to the light heavyweight division to challenge the surging prospect Vadim Nemkov.

In the main event of Bellator 230, Alessio Sakara got back in the win column and this time with ease, stopping Grigsby just 23 seconds into the fight. Sakara wasted little time coming forward and firing off shots, forcing Grigsby to cover up against the cage. A body shot from Sakara dropped Grigsby who turtled and waited for the referee to intervene. The win moves Sakara to 20-13 in his career and 4-2 in Bellator.

In the co-main event, Stefano Paterno defeated Ashley Reece in a fun little scrap that saw both men have success. Early on, Reese was able to implement his game plan and spent some time on top. But as the fight drew on, Paterno was able to overwhelm Reece with volume, even scoring a 10-8 round on two judges’ scorecards. The win was Paterno’s first in Bellator and he figures to be someone they build when they return to Europe.

The big highlight of Bellator Milan, however, was the possible final fight for combat sports legend Melvin Manhoef. Although he’s 43 years old, Manhoef didn’t look it, knocking Yannick Bahati out cold in the first round. Manhoef clipped Bahati early and followed him to the ground. It looked like Bahati might be starting to recover after recomposing his guard, but it was not to be as “No Mercy” showed him none, pounding the English fighter into unconsciousness. Afterwards, Manhoef said he was unsure if he’d retire or not. But if he does, it’s hard to imagine a better way to go out.

At Bellator 230, things were no less eventful, as the light heavyweight division has a legitimate contender. Vadim Nemkov has been slowly making his way up the ranks, but now, a title shot seems undeniable. Nemkov wasted no time in the fight, immediately taking Carvalho down as many expected of the Sambo champion. But Nemkov also spent a good amount of time boxing with Carvalho to good effect. Eventually in the second round though, Nemkov got a takedown and started really working Carvalho over from top position, finally locking up a rear-naked choke to wrap things up. The win was his third in a row over a former Bellator champion, and the Russian standout is all but assured to be next in line for the light heavyweight belt.

In the co-main event for Bellator 230, Dragos Zubco won a unanimous decision over Hesdy Gerges. Zubco and Gerges came out aggressive early, but eventually settled into a slower-paced fight with lots of clinch work and Zubco grinding on top. In the end, Zubco took a unanimous decision and moved to 3-1 in his career.

Elsewhere on the Bellator 230 card, Fedor Emelianenko protege Kirill Sidelnikov defeated Domingos Barros in a lackluster heavyweight affair. Sidelnikov won the fight with forward pressure and clinch control, but it was not an impressive showing for either man. In the end, “Baby Fedor” won a unanimous decision, putting an end to his two-fight losing skid and back in the ranks of winning Bellator heavyweights.

In the opening bout of the main card, Walter Pugliesi defeated Andrea Fusi in rematch of a split decision loss in Bellator last December. Unlike last time, Pugliesi outworked Fusi over three rounds, foregoing his normal brawling style and instead pressuring effectively and marking up Fusi with punches. In the end, Pugliesi swept all three rounds on every judges’ scorecard and is now 1-1 in the Bellator cage.

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