Bellator Kickboxing returned to Spike TV on Friday night from Budapest, Hungary and by the conclusion of the evening, the promotion had crowned a new welterweight champion.
In the main event of “Bellator Kickboxing: Budapest,” Zoltan Laszak (11-2) defeated the immensely more experienced Karim Ghajji (96-13) via unanimous decision, taking away the belt that Ghajji had earned following his performance at “Bellator Kickboxing: Torino.”
In addition to the welterweight world title bout, the always-exciting Raymond Daniels (12-3) returned to action against Zsolt Benedek (15-4) of Hungary. The man many fans refer to as “RD The Goat,” utilized his highlight-reel style of offense to defeat Benedek via unanimous decision in front of his fellow Hungarians, improving to 3-0 under the Bellator Kickboxing banner.
Following her controversial split decision defeat at “Bellator: Dynamite 2,” Denise Kielholtz (45-3) returned to form against Renata Lantos (5-5), taking home a unanimous decision victory. Following what was arguably the most important fight of Kielholz’s career, the talented Dutch kick boxer now sets her sights on a rematch with Gloria Peritore at the recently announced “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” in December
Rounding out the main card action, the man that defeated Melvin Manhoef earlier this year, Alexandru Negrea (10-3), improved his record at the expense of Ali El Ameri (42-11-2), taking home the win on all three of the ringside judges’ scorecards.
Within days of “Bellator Kickboxing: Budapest,” the Scott Coker-led promotion hosted a press conference yesterday at the historic Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy to announce its next international extravaganza. The Viacom-owned fight company is returning to Italy with another combo-event featuring heart-pounding action from the Bellator MMA and Bellator Kickboxing brands, both taking place on Dec. 10 from the Mandela Forum in Florence. Both events will air on SPIKE, and exact broadcast details will be revealed at a later date.
“Bellator 167” will boast Italy’s most popular and beloved mixed martial artist, Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara (18-11, 2 NC) who takes on Mexican-American slugger Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (17-13, 1 NC) in a light heavyweight headlining matchup.
Meanwhile, “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” features an anticipated female flyweight rematch between Dutch striking ace Denise “Miss Dynamite” Kielholtz (45-3) and the woman who defeated her this past June, Gloria Peritore (11-1-1) for the inaugural Bellator Kickboxing Female Flyweight World Championship. Additionally, Italian superstar striker Giorgio Petrosyan will be making his Bellator Kickboxing debut and other Bellator Kickboxing superstars Raymond Daniels, Kevin Ross and Joe Schilling are also likely to compete on the card against opponents to be named later.
“International expansion was a major goal for us in 2016, and I feel that we’ve really nailed it thus far,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “After the incredible success of our first event in Italy this past April where we packed the Pala Alpitour with over 14,000 people, we knew that we wanted to return for a second go-round before the end of the year. With our great partner Carlo DiBlasi and his team at Oktagon, we are looking forward to another epic event on December 10.”
“Our partnership with Bellator is producing incredible results, so as to double the stages in Italy and start a European course that has seen us protagonists in recent days in Budapest,” said Oktagon President Carlo DiBlasi. “I am sure that Florence will respond to the appointment on December 10 and will not be disappointed by the spectacle that the best fighters in the world will bring on Mandela forum ring.”
Not to be confused with current pop sensation “Alessia Cara,” Italy’s favorite mixed martial arts superstar Alessio Sakara returns to the Bellator MMA fray fresh off an emphatic finish of Brian Rogers at “Bellator 152: Pitbull vs. Souza.” Known for his knack for the spectacular, “Legionarius” will be making his second appearance for the Viacom-owned promotion in his home country, a locale he’s undefeated in throughout his career as a professional, a run that began in 2002. A longtime member of the world-renown “American Top Team,” there’s no doubt that Sakara comes to the cage looking to finish, ending the proceedings before reaching the judges’ scorecards in 14 of his 18 wins; a similar record to his opponent on Dec. 10.
Having competed across multiple weight classes from heavyweight down to middleweight, the man fondly referred to as “The Mexicutioner” always comes ready to go toe-to-toe. A six-fight Bellator MMA competitor, Beltran has competed against the elite in multiple promotions and weight divisions, facing names like: “Rampage” Jackson, Kendall Grove, Emanuel Newton, and Stipe Miocic. Now, the 34-year-old San Diego native returns to light heavyweight, looking to add to his impressive total of 14 finishes in 17 wins as a professional. A veteran of Strikeforce, as well as the UFC, it’s surprising Beltran hasn’t previously crossed paths with Sakara, but all that changes when the cage door closes in Florence.
The streaking Dutch striker Denise Kielholz had her progress temporarily slowed when she was upset by Peritore at “Bellator: Dynamite 2” this past June. A 27-year-old native of Sicily, Italy, Peritore has won titles such as the ISKA & WTKA Amateur World Kickboxing Champion and IASKA Amateur World K-1 Championship. The first meeting between these two ladies was a tightly contested and technical, with both competitors picking their spots wisely over the course of three rounds. The ante has been upped the second go around though, with the news that a freshly minted Bellator Kickboxing belt will be waiting for the victor.
Updated “Bellator 167” Card:
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC) vs. Joey Beltran (17-13, 1 NC)
Updated “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” Card:
Female Flyweight World Title: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)
Bellator’s world tour continues this Friday, September 23 when Bellator Kickboxing brings top-flight action to SPIKE TV all the way from Budapest, Hungary. The event will be headlined by Bellator Kickboxing’s welterweight champion Karim Ghajji (96-12) defending his belt against Zoltan Laszak (10-2).
In addition to this welterweight world title bout, the always-exciting Raymond Daniels (11-3) will return to action against Zsolt Benedek (15-3) of Hungary. Following her controversial defeat at “Bellator: Dynamite 2,” Denise Kielholtz (44-3) will also compete, when she takes on Renata Lantos (5-4).
The must-see kickboxing event will also feature the man who upset Melvin Manhoef earlier this year, Alexandru Negrea (9-3), who meets Ali El Ameri (42-10-2) at a catchweight of 189-pounds.
“Bellator Kickboxing: Budapest” will air on Spike Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Fresh off winning his championship at Bellator’s inaugural kickboxing show in Turin, Italy, Ghajji will defend the title he won at the expense of Mustapha Haida when he meets world-renowned Hungarian champion Zoltan Laszak in five, three minute rounds.
Raymond Daniels is never involved in a boring fight; look no further than his first two Bellator Kickboxing bouts, which have produced highlight-reel stoppages. This go-round, the showman will face the Hungarian Zsolt Benedek at 170-pounds. While Daniels will enter the ring as the favorite, Benedek will have the advantage of the home-town crowd, who he hopes will help propel him towards upsetting the American Superstar.
Arguably the most important fight of Denise Kielholz’s career, the talented Dutch Kickboxer will face another fighter of Hungarian descent when she meets Renata Lantos in a flyweight encounter. After dropping a decision Gloria Peritore, Kielholtz has been hell-bent on earning a rematch against the Italian, but will have to get through Lantos first.
Complete “Bellator Kickboxing: Budapest” Card:
Welterweight World Title Main Event: Karim Ghajji (96-12) vs. Zoltan Laszak (10-2)
Welterweight Co-Main Event: Raymond Daniels (11-3) vs. Zsolt Benedek (15-3)
Flyweight Feature Bout: Denise Kielholtz (44-3) vs. Renata Lantos (5-4)
189 lb. Catchweight Feature Bout: Alexandru Negrea (9-3) vs. Ali El Ameri (42-10-2)