Alexis Vila was a bit more aggressive early and held on late to earn a split decision Saturday night over Marcos Galvao in a Bellator Season 5 bantamweight tournament semifinal in Yuma, Ariz.
Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Vila while the third saw it for Galvao, 30-27. ESPN.com favored Vila 29-28.
A majority of fans in the crowd at Cocopah Resort and Casino disapproved of the decision.
Galvao showed a lot of respect for Vila’s punching power during the first two rounds. He refused to attack Vila aggressively, most likely to avoid opening himself up to hard strikes.
Vila (11-0) has made a name for himself as an aggressive, hard-hitting puncher. He entered the semifinal bout with six knockouts in a row. But Vila picked his spots in this fight, throwing punches only when an opening in Galvao’s defense was available. He focused primarily on overhand rights, but connected with a few kicks.
Being the more active fighter in the first two rounds would prove beneficial for Vila.
Galvao, sensing he might be behind on the cards, began to come forward and press Vila in the third round by throwing right kicks and knees.
The strikes were hitting their marks and Vila showed signs of tiring. Vila was slow with his takedown attempts and began breathing hard midway through the round.
But Galvao’s third-round aggression was too little, too late. It wasn’t enough to overcome his slow start.
Galvao falls to 10-5-1.
Aggressive Dantas edges West
Eduardo Dantas punched his ticket to the bantamweight finals with a split decision over Ed West.
The fight was scored 29-28 for West, 29-28 and 30-27 for Dantas. ESPN.com had Dantas winning the fight, 29-28.
Aggression and power was the difference as Dantas landed several hard right hands, especially during the first two rounds. But Dantas also provided glimpses of his jiu-jitsu ability. He nearly submitted West in the second round by applying a rear-naked choke, but West was able to reverse his position and began landing punches on Dantas.
Despite his aggressiveness, Dantas claimed he was not fighting at 100 percent.
“I felt a little tired at the beginning of the fight,” Dantas said. “Something was different.
“I will fight very hard for the next fight. I hope I feel better.”
Dantas improves to 12-2. West, a Season 3 bantamweight tournament finalist, falls to 17-6.
Wiuff earns unanimous nod
Travis Wiuff used his superior size to register a unanimous decision over light heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu in a nontitle fight.
The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. ESPN.com also scored the fight for Wiuff, 29-28.
Wiuff, whose seven previous fights were at heavyweight, was able to keep the diminutive M’Pumbu to his back for much of the first two rounds.
M’Pumbu fights around 202 pounds in the 205-pound weight class. Wiuff (65-14, 1 no contest) is the biggest man M’Pumbu has fought.
“I’m just a big strong wrestler; he isn’t used to that,” Wiuff said. “I want a shot at the belt.”
After coming up short in the first two rounds, M’Pumbu found his rhythm to start the third. He hurt Wiuff with a right hand.
Wiuff would hit the canvas, but was able to get up. He would take M’Pumbu (18-4-1) to the ground to finish the round strong.
Tirloni finishes Gable in two rounds
Lightweight Ricardo Tirloni applied a rear-naked choke that forced Steve Gable to tap at 3:54 of the second round.
“Nobody will stop my dream,” Tirloni said after improving to 14-1. “I want to fight step by step and get the title one day.”
Both fighters were making their Bellator debut.
Whether on the ground or standing, Tirloni would get the better of Gable. He landed several knees that forced Gable to attempt takedowns. But Gable did not find success on the ground.
In the second round, Tirloni landed several right hands that forced Gable to give up his back.
Tiloni landed a few rights then locked in a rear-naked- choke to finish the fight.
Tirloni extended his win streak to 11, while Gable fell to 5-2.