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Joe Warren claims interim title

Joe Warren claimed the Bellator MMA interim bantamweight title on Friday night -- and salvaged a future bout against injured champion Eduardo Dantas in the process.

Warren (11-3) overcame several scary moments and dominated late in a unanimous decision win over Rafael Silva in a five-round interim title bout at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. All three judges scored the bout for Warren, 48-47.

The Bellator 118 card was supposed to feature Dantas' third title defense against Warren, but the Brazilian was forced to withdraw one week ago due to injury. Silva (21-4) agreed to fill in on short notice and subsequently missed weight on Friday.

That meant the interim title was only available to Warren, but that didn't stop Silva from nearly finishing the fight early via strikes before visibly tiring in later rounds.

"Hats off to [Silva]," Warren said. "Unbelievable fighter. I thought I was going to get finished. He showed more heart than I have ever seen in this cage. I'm so proud of myself. I don't even know what to say."

A decorated Greco-Roman wrestler, Warren relied heavily on his bread-and-butter ground game to wear Silva down over the course of five rounds.

He nearly didn't get the opportunity to do so due to a rough start. Midway through the first round, Silva hurt Warren with a right uppercut to the chin that sent him retreating backward to the fence. Warren managed to score a takedown to slow the action.

Silva hurt him with the uppercut again in the following round, when Warren carelessly walked in on a takedown. The drastic weight cut on short notice seemed to have an effect on Silva's cardio, however, as he failed to capitalize on the exchange.

The direction of the fight changed drastically in the third round, as Warren popped Silva with an overhand right within the first minute. A right hand by Silva opened a cut over Warren's left eye, but he scored a takedown shortly after.

The final two rounds were completely dictated by Warren, as Silva's corner urged him to fight off takedown attempts to no avail. He received a breather in the final round, when referee Gasper Oliver broke the action due to an illegal knee, but Warren immediately took him back down on the restart.

Warren becomes the first Bellator fighter ever to win titles in multiple weight classes. He was crowned the promotion's featherweight champion in September 2010, but lost it in his first attempted defense against Pat Curran in March 2012.

Dantas (16-3) is expected to miss at least one month of training due to the head injury that forced him off Saturday's card. He could fight again before the end of the year.

Koreshkov advances to welterweight tournament final

It felt like Andrey Koreshkov could have knocked out Justin Baesman any which way he wanted to. He chose to do it via flying knee.

Koreshkov (16-1) advanced to the Bellator welterweight tournament final with an easy knockout win over a visibly overmatched Baesman. The finish came just 1:41 into the first round, when Baesman went out cold due to a knee to the chin.

The 23-year-old Koreshkov will face Adam McDonough in the tournament final. The winner will receive a shot at the 170-pound title.

"I'm very glad I'm in the finals and that I didn't disappoint my coach," Koreshkov said. "I know my opponent is very tough, so I look forward to this fight."

Koreshkov entered the fight a virtually unheard of 26-to-1 betting favorite. He found his range quickly against the shorter Baesman (14-5-1) and nearly laid him out in the first minute with a high spinning back kick.

A left hand to the body by Koreshkov set up the eventual finish. Baesman threw a few defensive kicks, which left an opening up the middle for Koreshkov's knee.

The Russian extends his win streak to three, including back-to-back finishes in the first round. His only professional loss came via TKO to former Bellator champion Ben Askren in July.

Galvao grinds down Vasquez

Marcos Galvao nearly scored the first submission of his mixed martial arts career, before eventually settling for a decision win over Thomas Vasquez.

Galvao (16-6-1) repeatedly took Vasquez down and maintained top position en route to unanimous 30-27 judges scores. He extended his current win streak to three.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Galvao has surprisingly never submitted an opponent in a professional fight. He nearly did so for the first time against Vasquez, as he took the 27-year-old's back in the third round and hunted for a rear-naked choke.

Vasquez (7-1), who suffered his first professional loss, did well defending himself on the ground -- but he would have preferred to never end up there to begin with.

The bantamweight prospect dominated Galvao on the feet, utilizing plenty of lateral movement and a stiff, accurate jab. He popped Galvao with combinations at multiple times during the fight, as Galvao closed in on takedown attempts.

As successful as Vasquez was at striking, however, he was equally unsuccessful in defending Galvao's takedowns. He was taken down several times in each of the first two rounds, and then gave up his back in the third.

A former Bellator tournament winner, Galvao is 3-0 since he suffered a second-round knockout loss to former Nova Uniao teammate and current 135-pound champion Eduardo Dantas.

McGeary blasts out Musitelli in Bellator debut

The Bellator Summer Series light heavyweight tournament got off to a quick start as Liam McGeary knocked out Mike Mucitelli in the opening round in just 22 seconds.

McGeary (7-0) remains unbeaten as a professional following the fourth knockout of his career. After thwarting an early takedown attempt by Mucitelli, he landed a perfect left hook to the chin that resulted in a walk-off win.

"I feel awesome," McGeary said. "I'm ready to carry on and keep going. One down; two to go. I just saw his hands were dropping a little and winged that left hook."

Referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the bout immediately, as Mucitelli (6-1) crumpled unconsciously in the center of the cage.

Born in Norfolk, England, McGeary has finished seven consecutive opponents. This was his Bellator debut.