A five-round "battle" for the middleweight championship turned into a train wreck on Friday in the main event of Bellator 155 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho.
Champion Rafael Carvalho (13-1) technically defended his 185-pound title for the first time via split decision over Melvin Manhoef, though it was clear to many that Carvalho should have lost after a lackluster effort.
Judges Rob Hinds and Randy Anderson scored the five-round bout 48-47 for Carvalho. Judge Mike Bell had it 48-47 for Manhoef. ESPN.com scored it 50-46 for Manhoef, with a 10-10 score in the uneventful first round.
Carvalho, 29, looked disinterested throughout the five rounds and scored very little offense other than a few knees in the clinch and a handful of takedowns. Referee John McCarthy was forced to stop the bout repeatedly due to Carvalho's fouls. The native of Brazil caught Manhoef with several illegal knees to the groin and was warned multiple times about dangerously extending his fingers toward Manhoef's eyes.
To be fair, Manhoef, the owner of 28 career knockouts, didn't score his traditional amount of offense, either, but he certainly appeared to do more than Carvalho. He hit Carvalho with outside leg kicks and snapped his head back with a right uppercut from the clinch in the third round. Carvalho took Manhoef down several times, but Manhoef managed to either get back up or reverse the position.
The opening round was comically bad, as Carvalho took the center of the cage and just pawed toward Manhoef from a distance. The Idaho crowd booed the lack of action from start to finish. At the end of the fourth round, both fighters hung their heads and started to walk back toward their respective corners before the bell even rang to end the frame.
Nevertheless, Carvalho, of Rio de Janeiro, picks up his 13th consecutive win. His only loss came in his professional debut in December 2011. Manhoef, 40, goes the distance for just the fourth time in his MMA career. He had never fought past the third round of an MMA contest before Friday.
Curran too much for Karakhanyan
Former two-time featherweight champion Pat Curran (22-7) got a much-needed win in the form of a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Georgi Karakhanyan (24-6-1). Curran, who hadn't fought in 11 months, knocked Karakhanyan down with a left hook early and nearly scored a crafty armbar in the opening round. Curran outgrappled Karakhanyan in the second round and controlled him throughout. Karakhanyan mounted a mini-comeback in the third, but he was never close to a finish. Curran, 28, moves to 2-1 since surrendering the 145-pound title to Patricio Freire in September 2014.
Dufresne stuns Coenen by submission
Alexis Dufresne (6-2) earned a shocking upset over former Strikeforce featherweight champion Marloes Coenen (23-6), by submission no less, tapping Coenen via triangle armbar at 4:33 of the first round. A 5-to-1 betting underdog, Dufresne earns the fourth submission win of her career. The bout was fought at a 150-pound catchweight after Dufresne, of Temecula, California, missed weight on Thursday.
Gormley edges Beltran
Heavyweight Chase Gormley (14-5) picked up a split-decision win (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) against fellow veteran Joey Beltran (17-14). Gormley, of Los Angeles, survived a big Beltran right hand in the third round to hang on to the victory. Gormley improves to 6-1 in his last seven appearances.