On Friday, Nov. 22, Bellator hosted its 109th event from the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa.

In the night’s main event, middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko put his belt on the line against tournament winner Doug Marshall. Shlemenko was expected to face Marshall at Bellator 98 in September, but Marshall was forced to pull out due to injury. The Russian went on to defeat tournament runner-up Brett Cooper via unanimous decision in his first title defense. The knockout artist Marshall had been out of action since April, when he stopped Cooper to earn his crack at the belt.

Also on the main card, the promotion crowned tournament winners in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. In the 155-pound final, Will Brooks battled Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy, while the 170-pound division saw Olympic judoka Rick Hawn compete in the third tournament final of his career against Ron Keslar.

The four-fight main card aired live on Spike TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET. The night’s six-fight preliminary card streamed live on Spike.com starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Shlemenko stops Marshall, retains middleweight title

Alexander Shlemenko punished Doug Marshall with body shots en route to a first-round stoppage in his second title defense.

Shlemenko threw a body kick and got a takedown very early in this title fight. Marshall was able to easily return to his feet and separate. Shlemenko threw a spinning back kick and tried to bring the fight to the ground once again. This time Marshall defended and threw a wild uppercut that was off the mark. Marshall was taken down again, but got right back to his feet again. Shlemenko went to the body and landed a kick and two punches. Shlemenko briefly clinched, but broke off when Marshall landed a right hand. Shlemenko went back to the body again and hurt Marshall with a left to the liver. Marshall tried to come back with a grazing head kick, but Shlemenko threw another left to the body and this time it was too much and the fight was over.

Brooks tops Sarnavskiy, claims season-nine lightweight tournament final

Will Brooks used punishing wrestling and ground-and-pound to win the season-nine lightweight tournament over Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy.

Sarnavskiy threw a jab to the body followed by a leg kick to start this tournament final. The two fighters clinched against the cage briefly and Sarnavskiy landed a few knees to the body. Sarnavskiy didn’t land cleanly on a spinning back fist and payed for it with an overhand right from Brooks. Brooks then clinched and looked to go for the takedown. Brooks got a body lock and dragged the Russian to the ground. Brooks was in full guard, but he looked to go for some ground-and-pound. Sarnavskiy was able to get back to his feet, but Brooks scored another quick takedown. Brooks stood up in the guard, landed some punches and was able to pass to half guard, which is where he ended the round.

Sarnavskiy looked to pressure with strikes early in the second round, but he could not land a clean shot. Brooks shot for a takedown and Sarnavskiy was able to defend. The two fighters separated and Brooks went right back to the takedown, which he was able to get. Brooks started putting all his weight on Sarnavskiy while looking to open up with punches. Brooks threw a number of forearms that connected. Sarnavskiy tried to get back to his feet, but ended up giving up his back in the process. Brooks got both hooks in and started exploding with ground-and-pound. It looked close to a possible stoppage, but the round came to an end.

Brooks went right to his wrestling at the start of round three. Brooks drove through Sarnavskiy to get the fight to the ground. Brooks kept going with punches and forearms, and Sarnavskiy’s face started to show the effects of that damage. Brooks opened up a cut near the left eye of Sarnavskiy and the blood started to drip right into that eye. Brooks used the punches to pass into half guard and began to look for the finish again as he transitioned to full mount. Sarnavskiy turned and gave up his back. Brooks just stayed with the punches and rode out the remainder of the fight.

Hawn knocks out Keslar, wins season-nine welterweight tournament

Rick Hawn rebounded after a rough first round to knock out Ron Keslar in the third frame of their fight.

Keslar threw a head kick early on. He followed that up with two uppercuts and then a knee to the body that dropped Hawn. Keslar looked to go for the finish, but Hawn was able to compose himself and stay in the fight. Hawn controlled for a bit on the ground, but then Keslar started opening up with punches once again. The aggressiveness of Keslar allowed Hawn to get back to his feet and the fighters separated. Hawn looked to establish a jab, but he couldn’t get all the way inside to land cleanly. Hawn did get close enough to land a right-left combination. Keslar went back to the clinch and the knees to the body of Hawn. Keslar looked to score a takedown, but the two fighters ended the round pressed against the fence.

The two fighters exchanged looping punches to begin the second round. Keslar took advantage of Hawn trying to get inside to clinch and press the fight against the cage. Hawn was able to get out of the way of a knee and bring the fight back to the center of the cage. Hawn started to look like the speedier fighter on the feet, and he landed an overhand right and a few left jabs. Keslar started moving forward wildly again, but Hawn was ready for him and moved out of the way enough to avoid any serious danger. Keslar clinched with a body lock and drove Hawn towards the fence to look for a takedown. The referee didn’t think there was enough going on, so the fighters got brought back to the center. Hawn continued to find his range and land the jab as the round came to a close.

Hawn stuck Keslar with the jab twice to start the third stanza. Hawn then landed a huge right hand that rocked Keslar. Keslar was clearly on shaky legs and Hawn kept applying the pressure, landing right hands until he scored the knockout.

Etim smothers Cenoble

Terry Etim used smothering ground control to defeat Patrick Cenoble by decision.

Etim immediately looked for a takedown to begin this lightweight contest. Etim scored that takedown and was able to take the back of Cenoble rather quickly. Cenoble rolled and ended up being mounted, but he did a good job of hip escaping and getting Etim back into his full guard. Etim didn’t do much as far as ground-and-pound went, but was able to take the back again during a scramble. Etim locked in the body triangle and started looking for a rear-naked choke. Cenoble did a good job of defending, but defense was all he managed with Etim on his back for the remainder of the round.

Etim threw two head kicks before shooting for the takedown early in the second round. Cenoble defended the first attempt, but was taken down shortly after. Etim again was content to wait in full guard for an opportunity to pass guard rather than going for ground-and-pound. Etim was finally able to pass from full guard into side control, but Cenoble was able to get back to guard pretty quickly. Etim’s lack of urgency to throw punches caused the referee to stand the two fighters up with about two minutes remaining in the round. Etim went back to the head kick once again. He didn’t connect cleanly, but he quickly changed levels and scored another takedown. Cenoble avoided damage again and got back to his feet in the final seconds of the round.

Cenoble looked to get a bit of a jab going at the beginning of the final frame, but fell victim to poor takedown defense once again. Etim was able to pass the guard a bit more quickly in this round and got to side control. Etim looked to get a mounted crucifix position and was able to transition to the back when Cenoble attempted to defend. Much like the first round, Etim locked in a body triangle and started looking for a rear-naked choke. Etim wasn’t able to get the choke under the chin and Cenoble was able to get on top, but it was too little too late to make a difference in the fight.

Alexander Shlemenko def. Doug Marshall by TKO (body shot). Round 1, 4:28 – for middleweight title
Will Brooks def. Alexander “Tiger” Saravskiy by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) – season nine lightweight tournament final
Rick Hawn def. Ron Keslar by knockout (punches). Round 3, 0:55- season nine welterweight tournament final
Terry Etim def. Patrick Cenoble by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-26)
Mike Bannon def. Ahsan Abdullah by technical submission (arm triangle). Round 1, 1:51
Blagoi Ivanov def. Keith Bell by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 3:59
Goiti Yamauchi def. Saul Almeida by knockout (punches). Round 1, 2:04
Bubba Jenkins def. Ian Rammel by TKO (punches). Round 3, 2:38
Brent Primus def. Brett Glass by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 3:20
Lester Caslow def. Jay Haas by submission (guillotine choke). Round 3, 2:44

Photo: Alexander Shlemenko (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.