Benson Henderson didn’t mind playing spoiler for the Irish public.
The former UFC lightweight champion won a thorough, if skillful unanimous decision on Friday over hometown favorite Peter Queally in the main event of Bellator 285, which took place at the 3Arena Arena in Dublin, Ireland. Henderson (30-11) led the dance from pillar to post, using a steady diet of takedowns, forward thrust and clinch control along the fence to earn a trio of 49-45 scores over Queally (13-7 -1), with his only point deduction being the result of a second round groin kick.
While in control the whole time, the 38-year-old American had his best moment on lap 4 when he dropped Queally with a standing monster elbow. Henderson was crawling with strikes to finish, but Queally survived, eventually reaching the last horn.
“Man, Peter is so tough,” Henderson said afterwards. “I know I landed some super clean, good elbows, and he just looked at me and came up. I was like, ‘Saint’ [crap]!’ That damn ‘Zombie’ song – he’s a zombie.’
The win pushed Henderson’s Bellator record to 7-6 since signing with the promotion in 2016. Then on November 18, Henderson called against the winner of Bellator 288’s lightweight title fight between reigning champion Patricky Pitbull and Usman Nurmagomedov.
In the evening’s co-main event, Yoel Romero (15-6) gave Melvin Manhoef (32-16-1) a brutal MMA broadcast, knocking out the 28-year-old veteran with a devastating third round knockout.
After a slow two-lap opening, Romero ramped up his aggression in the final frame, knocking out Manhoef and pulverizing him with a volley of hard punches and elbows from top position. Three particularly nasty elbows were the final death knell to Manhoef’s career, with the Dutchman left unconscious on the canvas at the 3:34 mark of the third round.
“Ladies and gentlemen, look at me!” shouted an excited Romero. “I’m the best 185lb in the world! No matter what competition, no matter what house, I am the best 185 pounder in the world. You have to fight me.”
Manhoef, 46, is walking away from MMA after a nearly three-decade run marked by knockouts from Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuo Misaki and more, after making his debut in 1995.
“I didn’t want to fight anyone,” Manhoef said after the fight, removing his gloves and resting them in the middle of the cage. “I wanted to fight names and I did my best. I’ve been doing this for 28 years, this is what I love, and I appreciate all the support you’ve given me. But today I think I should hang up the gloves after 28 years of fighting. Thanks for the support, you make my life great, you make me feel alive.”
Elsewhere on the main map, Leah McCourt (7-2) won a controversial unanimous decision over Dayana Silva (10-8) to win within striking distance of a title shot against Bellator women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, pending Cyborgs’ resolution contract status with the promotion.
It was a close but uneventful match, and while Silva was the better of many of the exchanges, it was McCourt who ultimately gained the support of the judges, earning scorecards of 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 in her favor recovery from her February loss to Sinead Kavanagh, which was her first setback in the Bellator cage.
In a pivotal bout with a featherweight, SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho (14-6) set the Dublin crowd on fire with a hard-fought unanimous decision over fellow contender Mads Burnell (16-5).
The fight was a tale of two halves as Burnell controlled the action for most of the first seven minutes with choking groundwork, only for Carvalho to then continue with reversals and his own level changes, including a dominant round 3 in which the 27-year-old scored a big takedown in side control, followed by several minutes of ground-and-pound.
In the end, Carvalho won the scorecards of all three judges (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) to bring his overall Bellator record to 6-3, while Burnell dropped to 3-2 in promotion.
The main card opener of the evening saw Ireland’s Karl Moore (10-2) score a dramatic come-from-behind entry from Karl Albrektsson (13-4) to win his comeback from a three-year hiatus.
Moore was saved by the bell at the end of the first round after falling from a standing elbow and then being ravaged along the fence, but he reversed his fortune on round 2, knocking Albrektsson down with a double leg, working to the back of Albrektsson, then pack a gnarly jaw crank to pull a fight-ending tapout at the 2:36 mark of the round.
“I’ve been out for three years, so I wanted a high-level guy. Karl Albrektsson is number 7 in the Bellator rankings, so that puts me up there,” Moore said. “Yoel Romero, maybe I’ll see you soon, boy .”
The full results from Bellator Dublin can be seen below.
Brian Moore def. Arivaldo Lima da Silva by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) defeats Brett Johns. Jordan Winski via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) defeats Darragh Kelly. Kye Stevens by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) defeats Kane Mousah. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) defeats Kenny Mokhonoana. Alex Bodnar via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:42 Asael Adjoudj def. Jordan Barton via TKO (Head, Punches) – Round 1, 2:39 defeats Luca Poclit. Dante Schiro via sub (adjusted arm triangle) – Round 2, 4:31 | View finish