Bellator 84, the final card of the promotion's seventh tournament season, culminated with Volkov taking the belt, which sat without an owner after Cole Konrad retired in September, and $100,000 following a measured main event. Three judges scored the contest 49-46 for the 24-year-old Russian, whose countering tactics and rangy jab proved too much.
"Please, someone pinch me because I think it's a dream," Volkov said in the cage after scores were announced. "And right now, I'm more nervous than before the fight because it's a great honor and great responsibility."
Save for a big right hand from Hale late in the first round, the fight was predictable.
Volkov wished for Hale to attack, and when the American did, he either received a pop from the 6-foot-7 Russian's accurate jab or was tied up and taken down. Despite his advantages over the former Bellator light heavyweight tournament finalist, Volkov's offense was largely ineffective. Volkov landed several snapping kicks to Hale's jaw but with little power behind them to inflict any damage.
Hale, 27, did little other than the knockdown in the first round. Rounds 2-4 brought little action, especially the fourth. By the fifth round, Hale (21-5-1) had no choice but to press the action, yet whatever exchanges there were -- and there weren't many -- delivered little in the way of getting him back into the fight. Volkov snapped off jabs until the 25 minutes were concluded, and he finished with his hand raised.
Vizcaya edges Hermansson by split decision
Daniel Vizcaya earned a split decision over Jack Hermansson after a grappling heavy middleweight affair.
Vizcaya, 27, scored points by initiating takedowns and controlling the 24-year-old Hermansson (5-1) in the first and second rounds.
The third clearly belonged to Hermansson, who shut down Vizcaya's takedowns and secured top position throughout the final frame.
Judges tallied 29-28 scores twice for Vizcaya (6-2), with one dissenting 29-28 for the young Norwegian. ESPN.com scored the bout for Vizcaya, 29-28.
Herrig decisions Vidonic in rematch
Herrig, 28, opened strong, landing more effectively as the fight progressed. Herrig, wearing pink cornrows and sporting a 5-inch reach advantage, kept Vidonic on the end of her punches all evening when she decided to keep it standing. Otherwise, Vidonic, 33, clad in black, had no answer when the 115-pound Herrig dominated action on the canvas.
"You can never leave the fight in the judges' hands, so you have to have a sense of urgency no matter how many seconds are left in the round," said Herrig, who fought with intensity until the final bell.
"I really wanted to go out there and show the judges I was the person who deserved to win this fight."
All three judges scored it 30-27 for the more colorful fighter.
Said Herrig: "I knew I would have the crowd on my side and I feed off of that energy."
Taylor knocks out Vedepo with one punch
After some initial jockeying, Taylor, 33, muscled Vedepo, 29, to the canvas with a slick outside trip midway through the period.
Taylor (8-3) remained tight to Vedepo (14-6) before uncorking a right to the body, followed neatly by another to the jaw that prompted the winner to stop and move away.
"I knew I had the knockout," Taylor said. "That's all I needed."
Held pulled from lightweight tournament final
Held, 20, was pulled because of the casino's 21-and-over policy, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said, a move he called "highly unexpected" and "very unusual."
A "higher authority" at the gaming commission overruled what Rebney claimed was agreed upon regarding Held's participation.