Bellator 265: Cheick Congo Claims Dramatic Submission to Win Heavyweight Thriller

Frenchman Cheick Kongo dramatically defeated Russian Sergei Kharitonov and won the battle of the heavyweight veterans in the main event of Bellator 265.

Congo, 46, defeated Kharitonov, 41, in the final second of the second round at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

In the co-main event, home favorite Logan Storley scored a split decision win against Dante Schiro in the welterweight division.

There were also victories for Marcelo Golm and Jornel Lugo.

Congo collects late

When the fight began, Kharitonov immediately forced a timid Congo to retreat towards the fence while chasing the French around the cage during the opening lap.

‘The Paratrooper’ briefly dropped Congo with a straight shot and got him into trouble in the final seconds of the lap as the 46-year-old showed early signs of distress.

Congo began firing back with their own shots on round two, but Kharitonov kept the pressure on as he plugged Congo’s takedown attempts and punished him with heavy shots to the head and body.

But after being on the opposite side for a round and a half, Congo suddenly exploded in the middle of round two as he dramatically turned the fight in his favor.

Congo hammered Kharitonov with heavy blows, then drove him forcefully onto the canvas.

Then, when Kharitonov was trapped and unable to escape, the French added the pressure with ground blows before taking the Russian’s back and locking a rear-naked choke that forced the Russian to pull in with a second to go the round to tap.

The win – the 31st of his 44-fight MMA career – resulted in his return to the Victory Column after being defeated by Tim Johnson in his native Paris last October.

Storley takes the win

Storley improved his career record to 12-1

In the co-main event of the evening, Storley of South Dakota recovered from his first loss of his career and scored a split-decision victory in his home state.

Fifth welterweight contender Storley lost a split decision to Yaroslav Amosov last November before the Ukrainian moved on to claim the Bellator welterweight title.

But the 28-year-old American returned to winning ways when he defeated debutant Schiro in the first two rounds and helped secure a 29-28 result on two of the jury’s three scoring cards. The other scorecard counted the bout 29-28 against Schiro.

Although he improved his career record to 12-1, Storley admitted that he was “embarrassed” with his performance, but made no secret of his desire to face world champion Amosov again.

“I want Amosov, but I don’t want to [think I’ve] got a lot of arguments after such a performance. But I know I can take it deep with me, “he said.

“I think I’m better than him, I respect him. I didn’t show it tonight. But that’s what I want. I want to be world champion.”

Golm scores buzzer-beater TKO

Brazilian heavyweight Golm got off to a victorious start to life in the Bellator cage when he finished short-term debutant Billy Swanson in the final seconds of the first round.

Golm, a former UFC heavyweight who was awarded a Bellator contract after scoring consecutive victories after his UFC clearance, looked the bigger, stronger, and more conditioned fighter in his main card fight.

The 28-year-old fighter, trained by the American Top Team, spent much of the round forcing his man into the cage. Then, as the 10-second clapper rang in the final seconds of the lap, it discharged a barrage of punches that Swanson dropped, forcing the TKO stop at the 4:57 mark.

The win improved Golm’s career record to 9-3 and extended his winning streak to three fights after the UFC.

Following his win, he also posed a challenge when he called out undefeated 6ft 8in contender Steve Mowry.

Lugo aims for bantamweight grand prix

In the night’s opening bout, the undefeated Lugo Lookout became the first fighter to defeat Keith Lee when he scored a first-round technical submission win in their 140-pound contract weight match.

Lugo was on the verge of blocking a D’Arce choke early in the round when he chased a submission finish against Lee, the younger brother of UFC welterweight Kevin Lee.

But the undefeated 25-year-old couldn’t be denied, kept the pressure up and closed a tight, rear-naked choke in the final seconds of the lap. Lee refused to knock and passed out when the bell rang.

Lugo’s impressive finish improved his record to 7-0, with four of those wins ending up in the Bellator cage.

After his win, Lugo said he hoped his performance was good enough to earn him a spot in a potential Bellator Grand Prix bantamweight tournament.

He even revealed his ideal first-round opponent – reigning Bellator bantamweight champion, Sergio Pettis.

“Sergio, come on. Let’s get the belt. Imagine I win a belt 7-0,” he said before explaining that he would like to emulate the success of newly crowned featherweight champion AJ McKee, who recently won the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix by defeating champion Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire.

However, Lugo said he would prefer his route through the tournament to be a little different.

“I’m going to do the opposite of AJ McKee,” he explained.

“AJ McKee won the tournament [and] got the belt in the end.

“I’ll get the belt at the beginning and defend it through the tournament.”

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