Mixed Night For Irish Fighters At Bellator 224

Ireland was on tour this Friday night in Thackerville, Oklahoma as three SBG teammates fought on the prelims of Bellator 224.

First up on the night for the Irish was Tipperaryman Will Fleury who took on American Antonio Jones. After a couple of hard early exchanges Fleury was able to get Jones to the cage and immediately felled him with a body lock takedown. Fleury quickly transitioned to the mount and had Jones flattened out with time on the clock. A barrage of strikes and submission attempts had Jones on the brink but the American defended well and survived a round which Fleury almost certainly won 10-8.

From that point on it was rinse and repeat for the Munster middleweight who eased his way to a unanimous decision victory with more early takedowns in rounds 2 and 3 respectively. A Von Flue choke and arm triangle in the 2nd looked to have Jones in trouble while big shots to the ribs from mount in the 3rd closed out a dominant win for Fleury 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 on the scorecards of the judges

Next up was Sinead Kavanagh who took on veteran Leslie Smith in one of the most anticipated fights of the night.

Jabs and counters from Kavanagh against the pressure of Smith was the real story of the fight here. The Dubliner landed some hard right hands throughout the first round and a big elbow had a notable affect. Smith came on very well late and made the round a close one on the judges’ cards.

The second went in a similar fashion but was much clearer in terms of Kavanagh winning. Smith immediately ran across the cage but a check left hook from Kavanagh kept her away. Smith did manage to get a clinch at a couple of points throughout the round but Kavanagh escaped each time and began to land at will in the last minute of the round.

Smith came with more heavy pressure in the third but Kavanagh’s circling behind her jabs served her well. A lovely uppercut from Kavanagh, one of a number of well-timed counters from the Irishwoman, found the mark midway through a round which saw Smith struggle to cut off the cage. Both women tired late after a frantic pace but still managed to land shots as the final bell sounded.

In the end Smith won an extremely contentious majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)

There was even more drama in the third fight of the night as Dubliner Kiefer Crosbie lost via disqualification following an illegal knee to his downed opponent Mike Jackson.

The fight started with a heavy exchange of strikes before Jackson took the fight to the cage. Crosbie landed a barrage of his patented elbows from clinch and dropped his opponent to his knees. That was when the knee landed, causing Jason Herzog to step in and correctly call the fight a DQ with Jackson in no state to continue.

Lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Co-host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Tuesday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma