On Thursday, November 16th, Bellator MMA made the trip over to the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv Israel, in their first trip back since Bellator 164 in 2016.
This card was originally supposed to feature a Featherweight Championship bout, between Champion Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire and challenger Daniel Weichel, in a rematch stemming from their initial 2015 meeting at Bellator 138 when Pitbull won by KO.
However on Sunday November 12, just days before the event, it was announced that 'Pitbull' Freire was forced to withdraw from the fight, due to a knee injury. To replace the Main event, Israeli former UFC fighter Noad Lahat was called up to fight, against a fighter who was removed from the Bellator 187 due to his opponent's injury, Jeremiah Labiano. Lets get into this brief main card, which only had 4 fights.
Lahat (winner) vs. Labiano
In our main event of the evening, we have skilled grappler and Israel's own Noad Lahat going up against California's Jeremiah Labiano. In the beginning of the first round, both men were looking to throw leather and land hard shots early. They exchanged punches, and after about a minute, Lahat engaged with a clinch and tied up Labiano for the first time.
He spent a while here trying to work for a takedown at points, but they separate. As they return to striking, they go back to the back and forth shots that opened the fight. After Labiano misses a high kick, Lahat lands a good right that wobbles Labiano and causes him to fall onto the canvas. Lahat looked to follow him and finish the fight on the ground, but Labiano was not as hurt as he thought, and defended all of Lahat's shots. He was able to tie him up in the closed guard, and Lahat spent the rest of the round here trying to work out of it.
In the second round, Labiano came out heavy once again throwing hands and landing a good uppercut. Labiano taunts Lahat, and as they exchange after that Lahat accidentally lands a low blow knee. After a pause, action resumes, and it does so fast as they go back to exchanging punches and kicks heavily. Lahat then worked Labiano to the fence with a clinch, then successfully taking him down with a trip. Lahat spent a while in top control, landing good ground and pound shots.
However after an elbow he threw connects with the back of Labiano's head, the referee called time and deducted a point from Lahat for two illegal strikes. To end the round, a brief grappling exchange that sees a leglock attempt from Lahat which Labiano escapes. In the third and final round, both men did the same thing to start out, swinging and landing huge punches. After a minute of stand up fighting, Labiano works Lahat towards the fence in a clinch.
However the skilled grappler Lahat is able to reverse position, and land a takedown on Labiano. He lands in half guard and then went to work the ground and pound once more. He held this position and attacked the body, and as the referee stands them up with 15 seconds left in the round, they both do what they've done so much of in the fight, stand their ground and throw leather.
They fight to the finish, and both men swing until the bell sounds. Although he found himself losing a point, Lahat came away with the Unanimous decision win. Noad Lahat def. Jeremiah Labiano via Unanimous Decision (29-27x3).
Gozali (winner) vs. Faitovich
In our Co-main event, we had Israeli fighter Haim Gozali go up against Ukrainian fighter Arsen Faitovich, who made his Bellator Debut. In the first round, Gozali came out strong, as he found a home for a few hooks that caught the attention of Faitovich. Faitovich finds it, but as he is trying to work, Gozali quickly brings his legs up and secures the Triangle choke.
It is deep as it can get, with the arm across and Gozali pulling down on the head of Faitovich. Faitovich then slumped down, and as Gozali was about to transition to the arm bar, the referee ran in, rescuing the unconscious Ukrainian from any further strangulation. Gozali gets up and glances at his motionless opponent, celebrating his exciting and skillful 45 second win. Haim Gozali def. Arsen Faitovich via R1 Submission.
Salter (winner) vs. Radcliffe
Next up, we had a Middleweight bout, between MMA Veteran John Salter and 12-4 185er Jason Radcliffe. To begin the first, Salter goes to implement his game plan, shooting for a takedown on Radcliffe. Radcliffe is able to stuff Salter's first attempt, but Salter stays with it and finally completes the takedown. Salter then began to go to work with ground and pound, then passing into full mount. Radcliffe then gives up his back as he tries to roll to his belly to get up.
As he begins to work back to his feet, Salter has already taken his back and neck, and before Radcliffe is able to do anything in terms of defense, Salter gets his forearm under the chin and locks in the Rear naked choke. He then squeezes tightly as Radcliffe finds himself in a world of trouble. Radcliffe taps out, and Salter advances to 15-3, getting his 5th finish in the Bellator cage. John Salter def. Jason Radcliffe via R1 Submission.
Kiehotlz (winner) vs. Middleton
In the first fight of the evening, we had Kickboxing standout Denise Kielholtz go up against Bellator Flyweight Jessica Middleton. This fight didn't last long. Middleton came out in the first round and pressed forward, but as she got Kielholtz backing up against the cage, Kielholtz came back with a great combination of hooks and straight punches.
This caught the attention of Middleton, and she then moved forward and clinched with Kielholtz, trying to find a weakness in her grappling. It wasn't there, as Kielholtz landed a skillful head and arm throw, landing in the side saddle position, where she controls the entire upper body of Middleton.
Kielholtz then isolates the left arm of Middleton and then moves it under her right leg and above her left, locking in the rare scarf-hold arm bar. Middleton was caught in this hold deep, and had no answer for it. She taps out, and Kielholtz gets up celebrating. Denise Kielholtz def. Jessica Middleton via. R1 Submission.