Kongo earns Bellator title shot

Things got a little interesting late, but Cheick Kongo will get his shot at the Bellator heavyweight title following a tournament finals win over Peter Graham on Friday.

Kongo (20-8-2) improved to 2-0 in the Bellator cage, defeating Graham via unanimous decision in the main event of Bellator 107 inside WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.

The tournament victory puts Kongo next in line for the Bellator heavyweight title. Current champion Alexander Volkov meets Vitaly Minakov on Nov. 22.

It was a relatively dominant performance by Kongo, who was originally scheduled to meet Vinicius Queiroz at Bellator 106 on Nov. 2. That fight was ultimately postponed and scrapped altogether when Queiroz withdrew late due to injury.

Graham (9-6) performed admirably in his place, but the former professional kickboxer was blatantly overmatched facing an experienced heavyweight in Kongo.

Utilizing an accurate jab, Kongo kept the heavy-handed Graham at bay in the opening minutes. As the jabs added up, Kongo opened up, unleashing a series of brutal-sounding body kicks to Graham's right side.

Looking confident, Kongo pressed the action in the next round. He went to work on Graham's legs with kicks, rendering him almost completely immobile by the third frame. With 30 seconds remaining, Kongo scored a takedown and a few late strikes.

Things looked rather helpless for Graham, 38, heading into the final round -- but a few questionable strategic tactics by Kongo gave him life. Somewhat conservatively, Kongo stepped off the gas and started throwing one strike at a time.

Graham, who did land a strong overhand right in the second round, connected on a counter right and tried to follow with a combination of straight punches. Kongo wisely ducked under and took him down, but forfeited the position moments later when he attempted to transition to the back and look for a choke.

An exhausted Graham, however, couldn't capitalize, and the fight ended with Kongo back in top position, closing out a strong performance by the longtime UFC veteran.

Kongo, who parted ways with the UFC earlier this year, builds off a second-round TKO over Marc Godbeer in his Bellator debut. The 38-year-old is 3-2 since the start of 2012.

Warren wins bantamweight tournament title

Travis Marx managed to get up after every Joe Warren takedown. A knee up the middle was another story.

Warren (10-3) claimed the Season 9 Bellator bantamweight tournament with a devastating second-round TKO over Marx. A well-placed knee from the clinch was more than enough to end Marx's night at an official time of 1:56.

"Our game plan was to stay focused, move left and keep the hands up," Warren said. "He dropped his head and I dropped the hammer with the knee. He went down crying. I felt bad. I like Travis a lot."

An amateur world champion Greco Roman wrestler, Warren took Marx down at will.

Marx (21-5) landed a few good leg kicks at the start of the fight, but was helpless in stopping the takedown. Warren walked through punches in the opening minutes to secure a bodylock takedown. Later in the round, he picked Marx up above his shoulders and slammed him violently to the mat. A mixed martial arts veteran with 10 years of professional experience, Marx did well getting back to his feet, but the constant threat of the takedown had a visible impact on his striking.

Following a double leg shot by Warren early in the second, Marx wall-walked but was crumpled moments later by the knee up the middle. Referee Jason Herzog called the bout shortly after, when Warren followed with a couple of punches.

A Bellator bantamweight title fight between 24-year-old champion Eduardo Dantas and Rafael Silva is expected to take place in early 2014. Warren, who is a former Bellator titleholder at 145 pounds, will face the winner.

Ward finishes Parlo in second round

Brennan Ward is the newest Bellator middleweight tournament winner following an upset TKO victory over Mikkel Parlo in the second round.

Ward (9-1) was actually outfought the majority of the bout, but when an opportunity arrived, he didn't waste it.

His left hook in the second round knocked Parlo down. A series of body shots and right hands along the fence prompted referee Kerry Hatley to stop the contest at the 1:39 mark, despite the fact Parlo was still on his feet.

"We should probably talk about the second round and not the first," Ward said. "I popped him with a good jab. I saw him go down. I didn't want to get too crazy and lose position. It was a good fight. The kid hits hard. I'm happy I got the win."

The first round Ward didn't want to talk about consisted of multiple failed attempts to get Parlo (11-2) to the ground. He came close with several hip tosses early in the fight, but Parlo kept his balance and landed the better of the striking exchanges.

It was more of the same to start the second round, as Parlo's straight punches continued to land in front of Ward's winging attempts. That all changed with the left hook, though.

After going down, Parlo bounced to his feet but remained visibly wobbled.

Ward tied him up in the clinch and unleashed seven or eight unanswered right hands to the ribs. Reeling, Parlo retreated to the fence where Ward finished him.

Ward will now get his shot at the Bellator 185-pound title. Current champion Alexander Shlemenko is scheduled for his second defense against Doug Marshall later this month in Atlantic City, N.J.

Parlo falls to 3-2 in the Bellator cage. It's the first time he ever has been finished in his pro career.

Campos outlasts Stapleton by decision

Lightweight prospect Derek Campos ran his win streak up to four, while Martin Stapleton lost back-to-back fights to open his Bellator campaign.

Campos (13-3) recorded a unanimous decision over Stapleton on the opening main card bout. All three judges saw it a shutout for Campos, 30-27.

Fighting out of Lubbock, Texas, Campos proved superior to Stapleton in just about every aspect of the catchweight bout. Originally scheduled as a lightweight contest, the bout was switched to a catchweight affair when both fighters missed weight.

Stapleton (12-3) showed a willingness to meet Campos in the center of the cage, but typically ended up taking the worse of the striking exchanges. He proved to be especially vulnerable to the left hook, which Campos landed repeatedly.

Looking to mix things up in the second round, Campos scored a very early takedown. Stapleton got to his feet quickly where he landed several punches in combinations, but he was dropped later in the round by a right hand.

Ahead on the scorecards, Campos elected to take Stapleton down 90 seconds into the final round. Stapleton managed to score a left fist that had Campos bleeding near the right eye, but it ultimately was a dominant round for Campos as he eventually worked to full mount before the final bell.

Campos improves to 2-0 under the Bellator banner. Stapleton, 30, falls to 0-2. He suffered a submission loss to Saad Awad at Bellator 101 in September.