Vitaly Minakov defends title

Vitaly Minakov made the first defense of his heavyweight title by unanimous decision at Bellator 115. Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov successfully defended his title for the first time against veteran challenger Cheick Kongo at Bellator 115 on Friday.

Minakov (14-0) defeated Kongo via unanimous decision at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev. All three judges scored the bout 48-46 for the champion.

"I fought the strongest in the division today," said Minakov, who won the title via knockout against Alexander Volkov last November. "Now I feel like a real champion."

It was an ugly, sluggish heavyweight affair for the most part. Kongo (20-9-2) had his moments, but was physically exhausted by the final round.

Referee Herb Dean stayed busy in the five-round title fight. He penalized Minakov a potentially crucial point in the first round for two accidental low blows. In the fourth round, he repeatedly warned Kongo for illegally grabbing Minakov's shorts.

The wrestling pedigree of Minakov impacted the result, as he dominated Kongo on the floor in the third and fifth rounds. He dropped him in the first with a right hand, but never came close to finishing the fight.

He hurt Kongo again in the second round with a short right hand to the temple. The Russian heavyweight scored a takedown moments later and eventually moved to full mount before the end of the frame.

Kongo landed a few early body kicks and secured top position for much of the fourth round, but was otherwise limited offensively. He complained to Dean in the second round about a Minakov knee to the groin, but replays verified the strike was legal.

The loss snaps a two-fight win streak for Kongo in the Bellator cage. The 38-year-old Frenchman signed with the promotion last year after an 18-fight career in the UFC.

The undefeated Minakov earns only the second decision victory of his career. It's the first time he has failed to finish an opponent since July 2010.

Herman Terrado (11-3-1) and Justin Baesman (14-4-1) fought to a majority draw (29-28 Terrado, 28-28, 28-28): A non-tournament welterweight bout ended in a majority draw, due to two 10-8 scores in the second round for Baesman. Referee Jason Herzog nearly stopped the fight in that round after Baesman landed a series of unanswered elbows. Terrado responded in the final round, however, to salvage a draw result.

Kelly Anundson (7-2) def. Volkan Oezdemir (10-1) via submission (neck crank) at 3:19 second round: A former collegiate wrestler, Anundson took Oezdemir down at will en route to an upset submission. The American Top Team light heavyweight scored five takedowns in the first round alone. He earned his fifth career submission finish.

Mikkel Parlo (12-2) def. Johnny Cisneros (8-3) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27): Parlo had no trouble wrestling Cisneros to the floor and hammering out a one-sided decision in a non-tournament middleweight bout. The Danish 23-year-old is 4-2 in Bellator and 3-1 in his last four fights.