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Bellator 144 marked by title fight upset
Ward, Bessette win by finishes

Jeremie Holloway, left, versus
Matt Secor on
Oct. 23 at
Mohegan Sun.

Photo by
Terry Sutton
By Brian Woodman Jr.

   Rafael Carvalho (11-2), despite being almost unanimously regarded as an underdog, defeated former middleweight champion Brandon Halsey (7-1) with a well-placed kick and clinched the middleweight championship belt at Bellator 144. The event, which was held on Oct. 23 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, also featured local favorites Brennan Ward (12-3) and Matt Bessette 
(16-7) -- both of whom finished their opponents as the crowd vocally reacted.
   Carvalho fell on his knees after winning the headlining bout and was clearly emotional about his victory. 
   Halsey, who lost the middleweight belt earlier this year after failing to make weight for a bout, dominated the first round, bringing Carvalho to the ground seconds after the fight started. Carvalho, who was brought down several times, narrowly escaped from potential submissions that included an attempted inverted triangle choke.
​   During the second round, Carvalho stunned Halsey with what appeared to be a kick to the liver. He then dropped a few bombs on Halsey before the referee waved the fight off at about 1:40.
Walter Smith-Cotito, left, versus Kin Moy on Oct. 23 at Mohegan Sun.
Photo by Terry Sutton
   Ward, who is best known for winning one of Bellator’s middleweight tournaments, appeared on the main card as a welterweight and dominated the entire fight. He defeated Dennis Olson (14-10) by TKO at 4:37 in the first round. 
   Bessette, who appeared in the fifth fight on the preliminary card, submitted fellow featherweight Kevin Roddy (15-16) with a heel hook at 3:47 in the first round. Bessette, known in Connecticut for his success as a lightweight in Reality Fighting events at Mohegan Sun, wore his signature pink shorts.
   The main card opened with British welterweight Michael Page (10-0) defeating Charlie Ontiveros (6-4) by TKO at 3:20 in the first round. Page dropped elbows on Ontiveros’s face after the fight went to the ground and the referee waved it off.
   Sources associated with the organization confirmed that Page broke his opponent’s jaw. Page later expressed regret for the injury during an informal news conference.
   During the next fight on the main card, Goiti Yamauchi (19-2) submitted Isao Kobayashi (17-3)with a rear naked choke at 3:15 in the third round of a featherweight bout. Although Yamauchi dominated all three rounds, Kobayashi managed to escape several submission attempts before finally relenting to a protracted final attempt.
   The preliminary card opened with Sam Watford, in his professional debut, winning by decision over T.J. Hepburn (4-2) in a lightweight bout. Marius Enache (3-3) submitted Pete Rogers (2-3) with an armlock at 2:37 in the second round of a 150-pound catch weight fight that followed. Matt Secor (7-2) then submitted Jeremie Holloway (7-1) with a heel hook at 4:54 in the second round of a welterweight fight. Kevin Haley (4-3) won by decision over Mike Zichelle (7-4) in a light heavyweight bout. 
   During the sixth preliminary bout, which was a 129-pound catch weight fight, Billy Gaugamela (9-4) submitted Brandon Polcare (1-1) with a triangle choke at 2:19 in the first round. Kin Moy (8-3) then submitted Walter Smith-Cotito (3-4) with a rear naked choke at 3:33 in the third round of a bantamweight fight.
   Damian Trites (7-6) submitted Keenan Raymond (2-2) by kimura at 1:17 in the second round of a 165-pound catchweight fight that followed the main event. Kemran Lachinov (2-1 in Bellator) submitted Ilya Kotau (1-1 with Bellator) at 2:57 in round two of the fight that followed.

Michael Page, left, versus Charlie Ontiveros during Belator 144 on Oct. 23.
Photo by Terry Sutton