Bellator MMA rolled into Temecula, Calif. for Bellator 92 on Thursday, March 7.  The promotion returned to the Golden State for the second time in Season 8, this time at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. Four semifinal fights in two weight classes were televised on Spike TV.

In the main event, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev handed Marlon Sandro a defeat by TKO, halting the Brazilian from making his third Bellator tournament final.  The Russian dominated the fight, except for one grim moment in the second where Sandro nearly sunk in a choke. With the victory, “Frodo” will fight for $100,000 after winning four-straight promotional fights.

The rest of the televised card saw Doug Marshall, Brett Cooper and Mike Richmond also move on to the finals in their respective divisions.

“Frodo” gets third round stoppage against Sandro

In the main event of the evening, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev was able to control two-time Bellator tournament finalist Marlon Sandro en route to a third-round TKO victory. After being accidentally kneed to the groin early in the first round, Khasbulaev landed a big kick to the face of the Brazilian, which set up “Frodo” to land a takedown where he nearly completed an armbar. That wasn’t the end of the submission attempts, as the Russian nearly had a kimura right before the bell.

Sandro came close to ending the fight in the second round as he was able to end up in top position off of a scramble to the ground, where he sunk in a close arm-triangle choke. Somehow, “Frodo” was able to explode back to his feet, land another takedown, and ground and pound out the round.

At the start of the third round, Sandro looked completely gassed and broken, but he answered the bell and stepped out for start of the round. The Russian went for the glove tap, which was acknowledged, but “Frodo” cheaply threw a quick strike off of it and scored a takedown. From there, Khasbulaev threw strike after strike, landing big shots to the point where the referee had to stop the fight to protect the Brazilian.

The TKO victory moves Khasbulaev to the finals of the featherweight tournament where he will take on Mike Richman.

Marshall takes split decision over Aliev

It was a classic match-up between a wrestler and a striker, and it was striker who was able to gain the upper hand when it was all said and done. The first round featured the wrestler, Sultan Aliev, controlling the action as he was able to get the fight to the ground early. Despite Doug Marshall being able to get back to his feet, Aliev tripped “Rhino” back to the ground, where he held him there. After a referee’s stand up, the Russian picked up Marshall and slammed him to the canvas to put a stamp on the first round.

Early in the second round, Marshall was able to land a kick that stumbled the Russian, and from there, the round belonged to Marshall. “Rhino” continued to press forward, and continuously sprawl and stuff takedowns throughout the waning minutes of the round.

The third round is one that will likely be debated for a while, as it was one where Aliev landed several takedowns, but wasn’t able to do much with them. Throughout the round, the American kept pressing forward while throwing big strikes to try and earn the home run. In between the moments where Marshall was pressing forward, he would be taken down, yet soon after stood back up by the referee. At the 10-second knock, “Rhino” came forward strong and threw a flying knee which did not connect due to Aliev pulling guard and falling safely on his back. The plan backfired when Marshall landed a huge shot to end the round.

When the scorecards were read off, it was the aggression and effort to win the fight that the judges scored, rather than the takedowns, as Marshall edged Aliev by split decision.  The victory is good for “Rhino” to take on Brett Cooper in the finals of the middleweight tournament.

“Fudoshin” lands late knockout

American Top Team fighter Dan Cramer had complete control of the first round of his fight against Brett Cooper, as right out of the gate he landed a big right hand that put Cooper on his back. Smelling blood right away, Cramer swarmed the vulnerable fighter, but he had recovered quickly and was able to defend everything that was thrown at him. Cramer spent most of the first round in control on the ground, where he moved from guard to side control to back mount. “Fudoshin” was able to survive the round, as he was able to scramble into top control just before the bell.

Trying to get ahead early on the scorecards in round two, Cooper pushed Cramer against the cage to work for the takedown, however “Cosmo” kept a wide base and prevented the fight from going to the floor. Cramer was able to occasionally achieve the Thai clinch and land strong knees from it, however “Fudoshin” would then return the position to him pressing Cramer against the cage. After being separated by the referee, the fighters returned to the chess match against the cage, however it opened up a bit more as the two started to land punches against one another to round out round two.

Punches were flying to start the third, but initially nothing significant was landing, despite “Cosmo” getting the better of it. Realizing he was probably down on the cards, Cooper put it into high gear, and started controlling the fight. Cooper landed a takedown, and despite Cramer popping right back up, Cooper continued to press forward where he landed a huge uppercut which dazed his opponent. The uppercut was the beginning of the end, as he swarmed, landed more shots, and knocked out his opponent with less than two minutes remaining in the fight.

Cooper moves to the semifinals of the middleweight tournament with the knockout.

Richman edges Bezerra in featherweight semifinal

Headed into the third round of their fight, both Mike Richman and Alexandre Bezerra each had a round in their pocket. The first round went to the Brazilian, who was able to bring the fight to the ground and earn the dominant position, which was a back mount. “Popo” worked hard to try and end the fight there by rear-naked choke, however Richman was able to successfully defend against it.

Round two saw the tides turn, as “The Marine” worked his boxing and combination to bloody his opponent and land solid shots throughout the round. Bezerra shot for a takedown in the second, however Richman was able to sprawl, keep it standing, and continue the punishment.

The third round started similarly to that of the round before it, where “The Marine” continued to use his boxing to out strike his opponent, which tilted the momentum in his favor. Knowing he needed to get the fight to the ground, “Popo” shot for a successful takedown and was able to again transition to Richman’s back and lock in a body triangle. From there, the Brazilian worked for the choke again, however “The Marine” was able to spin out of it into Bezerra’s guard, to where he brought the fight back to the feet. The American continued to out-box his opponent for the remainder of the fight, which ultimately was enough on the judges scorecards as Richman took home the split decision victory.

With the victory, “The Marine” moves to the finals of the season eight featherweight finals.

Magomedrasul Khasbulaev def. Marlon Sandro by TKO (punches). Round 3, 2:38 – Featherweight tournament semifinal
Doug Marshall def. Sultan Aliev by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28) – Middleweight tournament semifinal
Brett Cooper def. Dan Cramer by knockout (punches). Round 3, 3:19 – Middleweight tournament semifinal
Mike Richman def. Alexandre Bezerra by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Featherweight tournament semifinal
Akop Stepanyan def. Chris Saunders by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 3:55
Keith Berry def. Richard Rigmaden by submission (kimura). Round 1, 1:31
Josh Appelt def. Manny Lara by unanimous decision (30-24, 30-24, 30-24)
Aaron Miller def. Shad Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Brandon Halsey def. Rocky Ramirez by techincal submission (arm triangle choke). Round 3, 0:50
Ricky Legere def. Sabah Homasi by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:52
Nick Piedmont def. Cleber Luciano by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 0:55

Photo: Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.