Three months after they were originally set to meet in the Season 7 Bellator lightweight tournament finals, Dave Jansen and Marcin Held put together a compelling three-round fight Thursday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.
Jansen's submission defense, wrestling grit and experience carried him past the 21-year-old Polish fighter in a unanimous decision, earning him $100,000 for the effort and a shot at highly regarded Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler.
"I'm feeling total elation. Relief. Just gratitude. Happiness. Peace and love," Jansen said after the scores were announced. Judges saw the bout 29-28 for the 33-year-old Oregonian. "I get a little peace in my life, at least for a week."
Jansen's route to the tournament crown upped his winning streak to six after the only two defeats on his ledger -- three years ago in the WEC to Ricardo Lamas and Kamal Shalorus. The hard-nosed fighter submitted Magomed Saadulaev and out-pointed Ricardo Tirloni to earn his shot at Held.
After the fighters made weight in early December, the contest was postponed when gaming officials in Indiana refused to allow Held, 20 at the time, into The Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
The three-month addendum appeared to benefit Held in the opening round, as he displayed the sort of crisp, meaningful striking that had been absent from his submission-laden attack in previous contests. Held was successful enough with an array of punches to put Jansen (19-2) on his heels and take the opening round.
Held (15-3) reverted to his ground attack in the second with a quick takedown. He threatened with numerous leg locks, but Jansen adeptly avoided a series of kneebars, toeholds and heel hooks -- the same tactics that landed him a five-fight win streak and a spot in the finals by submitting Rich Clementi in November. Unlike Clementi, however, Jansen steered clear of everything dangerous, picked his shots when Held's head was exposed and passed guard into mount.
The crafty youngster squirmed on the bottom, working to the point of fatigue, which was clear as Round 3 started and he stood flat-footed, unable to pop off punches like he did in the first. Jansen dictated terms on the feet, scoring repeatedly to the head until Held perfectly timed a low kick into a takedown. The takedown didn't mean much, as Jansen stood, but Held threatened one last time with a nifty omoplata and toehold to inverted heel hook sequence. Despite its beauty, it did not result in a finish, and Jansen worked to the final bell.
Martinez makes quick work of Wiuff
Standing southpaw, Martinez, 30, hammered Wiuff, 35, with a left straight and immediately followed with a right hook and another left that sent his veteran heavyweight opponent sprawling to the canvas. Martinez powered down three rights to the head before referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to stop the contest and save Wiuff (68-17), who has now lost three straight.
Martinez (9-2) said he felt "super relaxed" in the locker room prior to the fight -- so much so he told his corner that he felt "weird."
"Since I moved to Vegas, everything has been a blessing," Martinez said. "I moved into Roy Nelson's old house. He took me in, kind of mentored me, and just rolling with Roy Nelson and 'King' Mo [Lawal], it made me who I am. Working with Jeff Mayweather, I knew I was in for leaps and bounds."
Low blow to Spiritwolf ends bout in opening round
The card's televised opener, a welterweight contest between UFC veteran Marcus Davis and slugger Waachiim Spiritwolf, ended unceremoniously in the first round after Spiritwolf was unable to recover from a low blow.
Fireworks were expected from the pair, yet they did little during their 3 minutes together prior to Davis unloading an accidental knee strike. Spiritwolf was propped up on one knee while Davis (21-9) pressed him into a corner-post pad, making him utterly susceptible to that kind of illegal shot.
Spiritwolf (9-11-1 with two no contests) writhed on the floor in obvious pain as referee Kevin MacDonald counted down the 5 minutes alloted to fighters unfortunate enough to be in the 37-year-old Califiornian's position. MacDonald repeatedly asked Spiritwolf, who had lost four straight bouts coming into the fight, whether he could continue, almost to the point of goading the veteran to his feet. Spiritwolf, fighting back tears, was unable to answer the call.
Davis, 39, and his corner reacted to the no-contest ruling, which officially came at 3:05 of Round 1, with disappointment. Because the bout did not last two full rounds, it could not go to the judges' scorecards.