Cris Lencioni managed to keep ‘Air’ Claxton grounded, but it still wasn’t enough, as Claxton’s wrestling made the difference in a unanimous decision win.
Cris Lencioni, formerly Cris Williams, was looking to be the first man to get a win over Tywan Claxton at Bellator 204. ‘Air’ Claxton, meanwhile, was looking to build on his 2-0 record. That, of course, included a debut flying knee knockout win late last year at Bellator 186. The featherweights opened the Bellator 204 main card in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday night.
‘Speedy’ and Lencioni promised to be a heated affair, as the two had words at the weigh-in, where Lencioni missed weight by a few pounds. As the fight opened, it was Claxton scoring an early takedown after ducking beneath a spinning back fist. From there he moved to side control, and connected with a knee to the body before standing back up, and landing a left on Lencioni. However as the round progressed, it was Lencioni who began pressing the action, eventually driving Claxton into the cage. Yet Claxton landed a takedown, ending up in guard only to back off again.
A slip early in round two saw Claxton in scramble mode, but he was able to wind up on top of Lencioni within moments. From there he was able to control for a far longer stretch of time than in the first round. By the mid-way point of the second, he had passed to mount. Lencioni gave up his back trying to free himself, but at least forced Claxton back into his guard. Claxton was looking to land strikes from the top, but Lencioni stayed as active as possible. They’d transition to north-south, but Claxton would finish the frame in Cris Lencioni’s closed guard.
While Lencioni was in need of a finish in the third, it was Claxton who was more active on the feet to start the round. Lencioni was firing off kicks, but found himself under fire in return, and taken to the ground soon enough. From halfguard Claxton isolated an arm, but was soon in Lencioni’s closed full guard. Tywan Claxton then postured up and threw a big punch from above before wading back into his opponent’s guard. Lencioni, for his part, seemed out of ideas, and was simply fighting to survive. Claxton was in full control, and the main question was whether or not he could find a finish. Posturing up on several occasions was a good start; he’d later trap an arm, and finish the fight landing bombs. The pair would continue jawing with Claxton yelling “What?” repeatedly at Lencioni after the bell.
Improving to 3-0, Claxton spoke of professionalism in the cage after the fight, in regards to Lencioni missing weight. With the win, ‘Air’ Claxton remains a big part of the future in Bellator’s 145lb weight class.
Tywan Claxton def. Cris Lencioni by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)