- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Melvin Guillard's debut for Bellator MMA didn't go according to plan on Friday, as he suffered a split-decision loss and a broken right hand in a main event against Brandon Girtz in Temecula, California.
Guillard (32-15-2) has now taken a loss in three of his last four appearances (which have been scattered among three separate promotions). At least Guillard made weight for his fight against Girtz, which he hadn't managed in two prior fights.
Check out full grades for the Bellator 141 event, which took place inside Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Nearly a 3-to-1 betting underdog going in, Girtz came hungry and armed with a game plan. Even though a win over Guillard doesn't carry the same weight it once did, this is a nice feather in Girtz's cap, especially considering the adversity he had to overcome late. He more or less matched Guillard's speed, which was somewhat surprising. That straight left he landed in the opening minute of the fight set the tone.
The story behind Wren's five-year absence is inspiring, and he wrote another chapter with a win in his comeback fight. It's hard to truly judge his performance coming off that type of layoff against a journeyman opponent whose best attribute is probably his ability to take punishment. The knees he landed were a lot of fun, and he appeared to find second and third winds as the fight progressed (granted, you're afforded as many breathers as you want when fighting Burns).
Coenen presents something of a Rubik's Cube for opponents on the floor, and Blencowe struggled to solve it, proving to be vastly out-matched in the grappling portions of this fight. If Coenen, 34, is showing any sign of decline, it is in her physical mobility and explosiveness on the feet. Whether it's throwing strikes or trying to wrestle an opponent to the ground, she does appear to have lost a step -- which is understandable as she approaches the 15th anniversary of her pro debut.
Freire didn't set the world on fire -- let's acknowledge that right away. But this was one of those fights in which it was going to be difficult for anyone to really look great, as he and Awad were so evenly matched. At the end of the day, Freire was slightly more versatile, and his gas tank was superior to Awad's. Nice win, but didn't see anything here that suggests he beats Will Brooks any time soon.
Bellator 141 (lightweight)
Lost to Patricky Freire (UD)
Freire seemed bothered by Awad's length throughout this lightweight fight, but the California native didn't take full advantage of it. He looked pretty gassed in the last round, throwing almost nothing but the jab, and he allowed himself to be out-wrestled in several critical scrambles (which, in a close fight like this, can be the difference between a win and a loss). It wasn't an awful fight for Awad by any means, but it was relatively underwhelming.
Bellator 141 (lightweight)
Lost to Brandon Girtz (SD)
It was a tough break for Guillard -- literally, as he shattered his right hand in the second round. You certainly can't dismiss the impact of that injury, but it also wasn't the only thing that went wrong for him. His ground game continues to be a problem, and the only reason he came back late in the third was that referee John McCarthy stood Girtz up from top position. Despite a long career, Guillard's athleticism is still very much intact, but he doesn't squeeze every ounce of potential out of it.