Bellator Kickboxing Debuts- Negrea Edges Manhoef
Unfortunately for Viacom-owned Bellator, things looked like they didn’t turn out as the were expected this weekend. Bellator 152 from Torino, Italy (the lead-in to Bellator Kickboxing that aired in the U.S. Friday night before Bellator 153) drew 580,000 viewers–down 25 percent from their last event.
Add to that the shocking upsets of main event kickboxer Melvin Manhoef (30-12-1 w/ No Contests in MMA) and Bellator 153’s Benson Henderson in his debut/Welterweight title fight while going up against established sports of hockey and basketball, and it was definitely one rough night.
Manhoef controlled the pace early as he and opponent Alexandru Negrea traded whizzing leg kicks until Manhoef found his mark with a counter-right hand with under two minutes left in the first.
Negrea has left his liver wide open and Manhoef capitalizes before instantaneously serving up another low kick. Manhoef is then back up after being on the receiving end of a right spinning back kick and flurry of strikes. Negrea is backed into a corner for the briefest of moments, allowing his man a few precious seconds to go to the body.
A head kick from Negrea is blocked. He’s then blasted with an overhand left and finds himself in an exchange before they prepare for Round 2.
Ten seconds in and a high kick is blocked from Manhoef. Right-left-right kick goes Negrea. Getting popped in the kisser from in tight puts Manhoef’s right leg off target. A headbutt forces a pause but it doesn’t appear to affect things and the pair get back at it–not for long thanks to a low blow.
They touch gloves and try again. Manhoef seems to slip as Negrea’s glove greets his face. The referee considers it a knockdown and commences with the standing eight count, leading to nothing but annoying Manhoef. He backpedals with under a minute left in the round.
A right to the head and a pair of lefts to the midsection cause a legitimate knockdown, the second in the round in favor of Negrea, but Manhoef is once again quick to his feet.
*For those of you new to the fight world, in certain combat sports three knockdowns is considered a TKO.*
Manhoef clinches and is rocked on multiple occasions in the last thirty seconds.This bout has now entered its final three minutes.
Manhoef is the one in trouble on the judges scoresheets and charges at Negrea after Negrea goes for a spin-kick. Facing the possibility of a sudden victory round, Manhoef over “extends” said commentator Matt Mitrione and finds himself on the ropes again. This time it’s Negrea with the overhand and following front kick.
With 90 seconds left in the round Manhoef goes to the midsection and gets little reward, if any.
The pair take turns backing the other into a corner and landing in the final seconds before Manhoef’s chance at victory evaporates.
Winner: Alexandru Negrea via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 29-26, 29-26)