Bellator 181: Campos vs. Girtz 3 Ends in Bloody Doctor’s Stoppage

Brandon Girtz vs. Derek Campos
Credit: Dave Mandel/

Bellator MMA returned to the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma Friday night with Bellator 181: Campos vs. Girtz 3. The main event featured a lightweight rubber match between Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos, with each fighter having a win over the other. Also on the card, two-division champion Joe Warren would look to get things back on track after dropping a decision to Eduardo Dantas in his last outing, and Emily Ducote, who suffered a last minute change of opponents when Valerie Letourneau was forced off the event. Now, she faces Jessica Middleton, who stepped up very short notice.

In Campos vs. Girtz 3, Brandon Girtz was looking to snap a two-fight skid, while Derek Campos was out for revenge after Girtz made short work of him in their second fight. The winner would be a step closer to the title shot in a division awaiting the rematch between Michael Chandler and new champ Brent Primus.

See below for full results and a main card recap!

Joe Warren vs. Steve Garcia

Former bantamweight and featherweight champ Joe Warren opened the main card action in a 135lb bout against up-and-comer Steve Garcia. Warren shot immediately, and whlie he didn’t land that takedown (and ate a punch for his efforts), his second shot resulted in him scooping Garcia up and slamming him down. You could feel that one.. From there, Warren worked within the closed guard of Garcia. The youngster found himself unable to work back up until around the two minute mark, but as he found his feet, Joe Warren found his back. In short, it was all Warren in round one.

In the second frame, Warren took less than thirty seconds to once again take Garcia’s back, showing the edge experience had over age. He then stacked his opponent up against the fence and controlled the action with his solid wrestling ability. That lasted all the way to the final thirty seconds, when Garcia got in on the action for the first time since round one and tried for a standing kirmura, later dropping to his back to try to finish it. He had neither the position nor the time, however, and the action would go to a third.

In the third, Garcia came out fast and hard, swinging and throwing a kneeing, briefly forcing Warren to retreat. However, he might have been a little over excited, and the end result was Garcia once again being planted on his back. Once again, it was all Warren from there, and it would go the distance.

Joe Warren def. Steve Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Jessica Middleton vs. Emily Ducote

Short notice replacement Jessica Middleton faced off against fellow flyweight Emily Ducote in the evening’s second bout. Both ladies exchanged early, with Middleton using her reach advantage well. Ducote switched tactics, and put pressure on Middleton alongside the fence, earning the takedown only to have Middleton quickly escape and look for the guillotine. It wasn’t happening, but Ducote went right back to work applying pressure and working her takedown game, capturing the first round by controlling the action.

In round two, Ducote scored another takedown early. She was able to pass to side control then into mount, but Middleton reversed and managed to get on top. She was able to ride out most of the round on top, fending off a Ducote arm-bar, but wasn’t able to do much in the way of damage. Going to the third, however, it was likely tied at one round a piece.

Ducote secured a takedown early in the third and moved to half guard, working to pass. She would again control the action, staying on top for several minutes before taking Middleton’s back. Once on the back she worked to slide her arm under Middleton’s chin, looking for the rear-naked choke. When she couldn’t land the choke, she transitioned to an arm-bar, but at that point, the round was up. Ultimately, the judges sided with Ducote.

Emily Ducote def. Jessica Middleton by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Kendall Grove vs. John Salter

Grove and Salter went through a feeling out period early, with Grove looking to judge distance with his jab, and throwing a head kick in for good measure. There wasn’t a lot of action in the first, and with a minute left in the round, Salter scored a takedown, which very easily could have secured him the round. He then took Grove’s back, landed a number of shots and looked to sink in the rear-naked choke. Grove went out, and Salter got the win!

John Salter def. Kendall Grove by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 4:37

Brandon Girtz vs. Derek Campos

The main event rubber match started with Campos holding the center of the cage, and both men putting everything behind their punches. Campos ate a hook coming in for an exchange, but landed a number of shots of his own. Early on, it felt like either man could land the finishing blow at any moment. Girtz landed a straight left and a liver kick that pushed Campos back. Girtz ate a shot of his own, then caught a kick and both men landed. It was starting to look like a spin cycle, then Girtz shot for a takedown after being opened up and bloodied by a knee earlier. They would stand and trade until the end of the round, with the doctor checking on Girtz’s cut between rounds, and letting the action go to the delight of the crowd.

In the second, Girtz was looking for a home run, loading his punches up. A right hook followed by a left rocked Campos mid-round, bu Campos came right back and clipped Girtz, stunning him as well. They’d survive, then exchange shots again and again, with both men connecting and Girtz adding in some kicks. Ref Big John stopped the action to have the doctor take another look, but again it was allowed to continue.

Going into the third, anticipation was high, and it was still anyone’s fight. However between rounds, the doctor took another look at Girtz, and waved off the bout, despite his willingness to continue. A rough way to end a great fight.

Derek Campos def. Brandon Girtz by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 2, 5:00

Bellator 181: Campos vs. Girtz 3 Results:

Derek Campos def. Brandon Girtz by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 2, 5:00
John Salter def. Kendall Grove by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 4:37
Emily Ducote def. Jessica Middleton by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Joe Warren def. Steve Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Preliminary card (

André Fialho def. A.J. Matthews by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Mike Rhodes by by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 1:59
Kate Collins def. Bruna Vargas by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Romero Cotton def. Aaron Rodriguez by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)
Valentin Moldavsky def. Carl Seumanutafa by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Logan Storley def. Kemmyelle Haley by TKO, Round 1, 1:44

Preliminary Cards (Dark Matches)

Justin Lawrence def. Treston Thomison by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 1, 3:34
Jordan Howard def. Johnny Marigo by KO (punch), Round 1, 1:26
Jonathan Gary def. William Florentino by unanimous decision
Amanda Bell def. Brittney Elkin by TKO (punches), Round 2, 4:56