Ben Saunders, Douglas Lima Advance in Bellator Welterweight Tournament

MFC welterweight

Douglas Lima

Joined in semifinals by Luis Santos and Chris Lozano

Bellator returned to action last night, kicking off their Season 5 series of events with the opening round of their welterweight tournament.

Former UFC competitor Ben Saunders scored the lone stoppage of the four tournament fights, systematically pounding out late replacement Chris Cisneros before earning the third round technical knockout. Cisneros replaced Season 4 finalist and former Olympian Rick Hawn, and Saunders’ pedigree and length proved to be more than the Hawaiian could handle.

In the first bout of the tournament, former MFC welterweight champion Douglas Lima was put on rubber legs early by Steve Carl. The 23-year-old Brazilian got clipped behind the ear, turning his legs to Jell-O, but managed to recover when the fight quickly hit the canvas. That would prove to be Carl’s best opportunity.

Over the second and third round, Lima used positional control on the ground, fluid transitions and a handful of strikes to come away with a unanimous decision victory.

Fellow Brazilian Luis “Sapo” Santos collected the 50th victory of his career, advancing to the semifinals with a dominant striking performance against former welterweight tournament finalist Dan Hornbuckle. Santos, who is married to fellow professional fighter Carina Damm, coasted through most of the final round, already ahead 2-0 on the scorecards, but poured it on late to seal the unanimous decision win.

In the closest bout of the evening, Chris Lozano scored a hard fought trio of 29-28s from the judges to defeat Brent Weedman.

Weedman dropped Lozano and controlled the action on the ground throughout the opening round. The tide changed in the second though, as Lozano found his range and worked over Weedman with crisp striking. In the final frame, it was more of the same.

Arguably the deepest tournament field Bellator has ever assembled, the semifinals should prove to be equally exciting. The second round match-ups are a pair of alliterative combinations, as Saunders faces Santos, and Lima meets Lozano.