Edwards stopped by Eblen at Bellator 299

Edwards stopped by Eblen at Bellator 299

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Briton Fabian Edwards’ middleweight title dream was ended by Johnny Eblen as the American secured a third-round stoppage at Bellator 299 in Dublin.

Eblen, 31, dropped Edwards with an overhand right in the third round and finished the fight with ground punches.

Edwards, 30, was hoping to emulate his brother and UFC welterweight champion, Leon, in becoming a world champion.

Following the bout Leon and Eblen had to be separated, before appearing to reconcile shortly after.

Leon appeared to get angered after Eblen shouted something at his younger brother following the victory, and approached the American before security intervened.

“He did really well controlling my wrists and popping up. Over time I am going to wear you down, it’s going to get harder to get up,” said Eblen.

“He was getting a little bit tired and he thought I was going to turn into a wrestler. I can strike for five rounds. I can strike, I can wrestle, I can grapple, I can do it all.”

Birmingham’s Edwards was aiming to join his brother as a world champion and become the first siblings to hold world titles in separate major promotions simultaneously.

He came into the bout on the back of three straight wins, including victory over former champion Gegard Mousasi in May, but was still regarded as an underdog against Eblen.

The American had won all 13 of his fights prior to facing Edwards, with nine of those victories coming in Bellator.

His all-round game, and in particular his wrestling, was predicted by pundits in the build-up to the bout as likely being the key to defeating Edwards, predominantly a striker.

Edwards, sporting “war” on his T-shirt as he made his way from the locker room, displayed the relaxed but focused demeanour he has embraced throughout fight week as he sung along to his walkout theme, momentarily stopping before the cage to soak in the moment.

Eblen appeared equally as calm during his walkout, happily singing along with the crowd to John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads.

The fight started with Edwards controlling the centre of the cage, with the pair trading a number of leg kicks.

Fabian Edwards elbows Johnny Eblen
Edwards was the underdog against the undefeated Eblen

Eblen shot for his first takedown late into the first round, which was stopped, indicating Edwards would not be completely out-wrestled like some pre-fight pundits had suggested.

But Eblen, who was cornered by UFC star Dustin Poirier, would not be discouraged and continued to wrestle into round two, landing his first takedown before Edwards quickly returned to his feet.

The Briton’s counter-striking was causing problems for Eblen however, with the American displaying a cut on his face at the end of the round.

But the decisive moment came in the third as Eblen landed a big overhand right which dropped Edwards, before raining down punches and elbows on the ground, forcing the referee to stop the bout.

With victory, Eblen extends the unbeaten start to his career to 14.

“Part of me was like, yeah, I don’t know how bad this cut is. I just stuck to the gameplan and didn’t think about much else,” said Eblen.

“Early on we wanted to move our feet, stay on the outside, land some punches. After the first I felt I could strike with him. Probably was after the clinch I wasn’t coming out safely and he landed some elbows, that’s how I got cut.

“This is how the fight game is, you can’t expect stuff to go your way all the time.”

Disappointment for Ireland’s Kavanagh and Queally

Sinead Kavangah and Sara Collins in action at Bellator 299 in Dublin
The defeat by Collins halted Kavanagh’s three-fight win streak

On the undercard, Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh lost a split decision to Australia’s Sara Collins, who extends the unbeaten start to her career to five.

Kavanagh, 37, was eyeing a featherweight title shot with victory, but was narrowly out-struck by Collins, who inflicted much of her damage via leg kicks.

Elsewhere, Irishman Peter Queally’s bout with Daniele Miceli ended in a no-contest after an accidental kick from the Italian fewer than 30 seconds into the fight scraped Queally’s eye, leaving him unable to continue.

The result was a major disappointment for 38-year-old Queally, who was aiming to halt a three-fight losing streak.

Queally’s countryman and team-mate, Ciaran Clarke, however, maintained the unbeaten start to his career, submitting Przemyslaw Gorny in the second round to extend his winning streak to eight.

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