UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Matt Mitrione defeated Roy Nelson by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28) in a razor-thin fight that went the distance on Friday night at Bellator 194. Mitrione's win advances him in the World Heavyweight Grand Prix, in which he'll next face either Ryan Bader or Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal.
Mitrione (13-5) was most effective on the feet, landing jabs and kicks throughout the first two rounds that eventually opened up a cut on the left eye of Nelson (23-15). In the final minute of the second round, Nelson took his opponent to the mat and landed some strong shots in ground-and-pound.
The third round was all Nelson. He took Mitrione down early and immediately got into side control. Nelson landed hard punches with his left hand to Mitrione's face and then had some hard right elbows to close out the fight. In the end, though, it wasn't enough to sway the judge's scorecards.
"I won the first two rounds pretty easily," Mitrione said afterward. "He did a good job in the third -- it was disheartening, for sure. But I won the fight. We figured this would be a 15-minute nasty fight, and it was."
Mitrione, fighting out of West Lafayette, Indiana, has won four consecutive bouts. Nelson dropped to 1-1 in Bellator.
Pitbull finishes Campos early
Patricky "Pitbull" Freire made quick work of Derek Campos on Friday night, finishing his opponent with strikes just two minutes and 23 seconds into the first round. Pitbull (19-8) landed a left hook that initially dropped Campos (19-7), though he was quickly able to get back up. Pitbull followed with a right uppercut that dropped Campos again and he scrambled to his feet. The Brazilian followed with a barrage of punches that sent his opponent to the mat for good.
The win was Pitbull's third in a row.
"My motivation is the belt," he said afterward. "Mark my words. I will beat the champion easy. I'm the next champ."
Hardy defeats Julaton in battle of former boxing champions
Heather Hardy and Ana Julaton, both former boxing champions, squared off Friday night in a fight many fans thought would be action-packed.
They were sadly mistaken.
Hardy (2-1) edged Julaton (2-4) after three rounds that saw boos rain down from the crowd throughout.
After a brief moment of trading shots early in the first round, both fighters got in the clinch against the cage and stayed there for almost the entire first round. With a minute remaining, Hardy took Julaton to the ground and attempted a rear-naked choke that was unsuccessful.
Julaton grabbed a kick from Hardy early in the second round and took the fight to the ground, though she did little in the top position. Midway through, Hardy was able to get up and reverse position. She landed strikes to Julaton's head from her back as time ran out.
The third round saw mostly clinches with little action, so much in fact referee Kevin MacDonald had to break them up on three separate occasions. Fans let both fighters hear their displeasure as the fight ended.
Top prospect Claxton stays unbeaten
The last time Tywan Claxton fought, he landed a spectacular flying knee knockout to featherweight Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman in November. On Friday night, the dominance showed in a different way.
Claxton (2-0) defeated Jose Perez (0-2) by TKO three minutes and 39 seconds into the second round. Referee Keith Peterson called a stop after Perez was taking too much punishment on the ground from Claxton's strikes.
"I'm disappointed," Claxton told Bellator's Chael Sonnen after the win. "I wanted to come out and put on a show. I had to take him down and finish him with elbows. I wanted to come out and have another knockout, but it didn't happen tonight."
Claxton made attempts at another flying knee, but Perez's standup defense would not allow it. The Cleveland native had to take the fight to the ground and landed a multitude of flying elbows and strikes in the first round. He did the same in the second to the point that the bout needed to be called early.