The best word to describe Eduardo Dantas' second title defense? Slick.
Dantas (16-3) turned in a spectacular finish over Anthony Leone (13-7) on Friday, submitting him via rear-naked choke in the second round of a bantamweight title fight at Bellator 111 in WorldStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla.
The finishing sequence was lightning quick. Leone, working desperately for a takedown, was driving forward on a low shot when Dantas pivoted, stepped backward over Leone and took his back in one fluid motion.
Blindsided by the move, Leone surrendered the choke almost immediately. The tap came at 2:04 of the round.
"I'm a black belt in jiu-jitsu," Dantas said. "I'm really good at jiu-jitsu. Sometimes I really don't need to prove myself on the ground. I feel really great today."
Leone, who took the fight on short notice when Dantas' original opponent, Rafael Silva, withdrew due to injury, brought the fight to the champion in the first round.
He caught an early kick from the Brazilian and used it to put him on his back. Leone spent most of the round working conservatively from Dantas' guard. He fended off multiple submission attempts and landed several elbows near the end of the round.
It was clear Leone's game plan called for more of the same in the following round. He continually shot on Dantas, working for takedowns along the fence, but failed to put the champion on his back again.
Dantas started to land more frequently with the jab and opened up with a flying knee despite the threat of Leone's takedowns.
The Nova Uniao bantamweight will turn his attention to former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren. It was Warren (10-3) who was initially offered the Dantas fight when Silva withdrew, but declined due to a lingering knee injury. He is currently on a three-fight win streak.
Heavyweight tournament opening round:
• Lavar Johnson (18-8) crushed Ryan Martinez (10-4) with a left hook to the temple for a first-round TKO at the 4:22 mark. Johnson was taken down early and absorbed plenty of hammerfists before working back to his feet. With the round winding down, Johnson went for broke and eventually landed the hard left that Martinez never recovered from. Johnson now has 16 finishes within the first round.
• Siala-Mou Siliga (6-2) submitted Peter Graham (9-7) with a head-arm choke at 2:31 of the third round. Regarded as mostly a striker, Siliga has now submitted consecutive opponents. After eating a steady diet of leg kicks early, Siliga wrestled Graham to the floor in the second and third rounds en route to his third win in a row.
• Alexander Volkov (20-4) made quick work of Mark Holata (12-5), recording a TKO just 1:21 into the first round. The former Bellator champion dropped Holata with short punches as he defended a takedown near the fence. After Holata fell, Volkov moved quickly into full mount where he finished the fight via strikes.
• Blagoi Ivanov (10-0) dropped Richard Hale (21-7-1) with a series of left hooks in the second round en route to a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Hale was badly hurt and on the verge of going unconscious but eventually survived. It was puzzling no judge scored the round 10-8. Ivanov improved his Bellator record to 5-0.