Rampage shines in Bellator debut


It wasn't against Tito Ortiz and it wasn't on pay-per-view, but Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is 1-0 under the Bellator Fighting Championships banner.

Jackson (33-11) scored a TKO win in the first round of his catchweight bout against Joey Beltran on Friday, inside Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The contest was Jackson's first under Bellator and headlined its Bellator 108 event.

A former light heavyweight champion in the UFC, Jackson competed against Beltran at 210 pounds because his original opponent, Ortiz, withdrew from a planned PPV bout on Nov. 2 with injury. Beltran agreed to meet Jackson on short notice.

Jackson, 35, ended a three-fight skid in highlight-reel fashion, knocking out Beltran with a left hook, right cross combination with one second remaining in the round. It was his first victory since May 2011 and first knockout in nearly five years.

"I'm so excited. I'm back," Jackson said. "I've been trying to tell you. [Bellator CEO] Bjorn Rebney fixed my knees. You're going to see more [knockouts], more people getting messed up. Everybody in my weight class better be shaking in their boots."

After severing ties with the UFC earlier this year following a 12-fight career with the promotion, Jackson underwent a medical procedure on his knees referred to as Regenokine in September, which injects parts of a patient's own blood to an injured area.

In the buildup to the bout with Ortiz -- and then, ultimately, Beltran -- Jackson raved about the procedure, particularly on how well his knees felt during wrestling practice.

The knees held up on Saturday, as Beltran (15-10) attempted to avoid a firefight with Jackson. The Southern California light heavyweight used a lot of movement at first, circled around the cage and pawing the jab. Later in the round, he elected to hold Jackson in a long clinch near the fence.

Jackson never came close to surrendering a takedown, however, and he arguably landed the harder strikes despite having his back to the cage. When he did have space, he threw the outside leg kick regularly.

With 20 seconds remaining in the round, Jackson went for broke, stringing together punches while pressing Beltran backwards. A short left hook hit its mark on Beltran's chin and a follow right connected as he was already on his way down.

Referee Dan Miragliotta gave Beltran virtually no opportunity to recover -- a key decision, as the final horn sounded as he was waving off the fight.

"I proved I've still got it," Jackson said. "If I can train hard, I can deliver hard."

Beltran is now winless in his last four fights and 2-7 in his last nine. He was released by the UFC last month, following a split-decision loss to Fabio Maldonado in Brazil.

Minakov wins Bellator heavyweight title

Vitaly Minakov made things look easy during the Bellator heavyweight tournament this summer. Nothing changed when he got his opportunity at the title.

Minakov (13-0) is the new Bellator heavyweight champion after destroying defending champ Alexander Volkov in what was his first attempt at defending the title. The finish came via TKO just 2:15 into the first round.

"That was my strategy in this fight, to pressure," Minakov said. "It was a successful tactic."

A lead right uppercut by Minakov was the signature blow of the fight, but in reality, the challenger did whatever he wanted in this one. He physically threw Volkov up against the fence and landed a knee and short left elbow in the clinch.

A suplex attempt by Minakov, however, did go wrong, as he basically dragged Volkov into top position. Volkov (19-4) would immediately surrender it though, as Minakov swept off his back and into Volkov's guard.

Minakov landed several heavy elbows from the top, but his activity wasn't high enough for referee Dan Miragliotta. With 2:30 remaining in the round, Miragliotta paused the fight and stood the two heavyweights up.

What appeared to be a lucky break for Volkov quickly turned into the end of the fight.

Minakov stepped in with the right uppercut that dropped him. Volkov tried to sit up and recover, but Minakov stood over him and dropped shots until the finish. Minakov has now finished 10 consecutive opponents, a streak that extends back to July 2010. He is a perfect 4-0 in the Bellator cage, with four knockouts.

The Russian will next defend his title against former UFC veteran Cheick Kongo (20-8-2), who recently won the Bellator heavyweight tournament with a decision win over Peter Graham.

Galvao makes quick work of McKenna

Marcos Galvao had Tom McKenna's back 20 seconds in and it was pretty much over from there.

Galvao (15-6-1) crushed McKenna in the first round, securing a TKO finish at the 4:29 mark. Unanswered punches from side mount forced referee Keith Peterson to stop the bantamweight bout.

In the opening minute, Galvao closed distance with an overhand right and slammed McKenna to the floor in an ensuing scramble. Immediately, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion took McKenna's back and flattened him along the fence.

McKenna (7-4) did well to defend a rear-naked choke attempt by Galvao, but that was basically all he could do. After the finish, Galvao admitted he had expected more from McKenna -- who has six wins by submission -- on the ground.

"I took his back, side control -- the guy would only hold," Galvao said. "It opened for my elbow and my punch. I don't know, that guy has great jiu-jitsu but he only blocked. That's it."

McKenna did escape a triangle attempt and worked back to his feet late in the round, but Galvao took him back down almost immediately. More elbows followed from side control and eventually from the back.

Known as a world-class grappler who sometimes refuses to look like one, Galvao hinted his strategy is different now following a knockout loss to Eduardo Dantas in February at Bellator 89.

"I believe I'm the best. I'm No. 1 at 135 [pounds]," Galvao said. "I believe in my jiu-jitsu. Now you know. You see it. I listen to my coach. I walk back, side, forward. Before, I go crazy. I was only walking forward."

Freire stops Wilcox in first round

Patricio Freire came up short in a Bellator featherweight title bid in early 2013. The year isn't over yet, however, and he's already earned a second crack at it.

Freire (21-2) became the Season 9 featherweight tournament winner with a first-round TKO victory over Justin Wilcox. The official time of the stoppage came at the 2:23 mark.

It's the second time Freire has won a Bellator featherweight tournament after defeating current 145-pound champion Daniel Straus in the Season 4 tournament finals in 2011.

"Every time we hurt our opponent, we have to be wary that they can come back," Freire said. "When I felt he was hurt, I went for the finish."

The Brazilian's notorious punching power came through once again on Saturday. He hurt Wilcox several times in the opening two minutes with the left hand.

A shot to the forehead dropped Wilcox to begin the final sequence.

Wilcox (13-6) struggled back to his feet where he absorbed a heavy knee to the midsection. Still visibly shook, he went to the floor again from a Freire left hand to the chin. Wilcox turtled up, where Freire landed a long string of unanswered right hands until the fight was stopped. It marks Freire's ninth win by knockout and 16th career finish.