Austin Vanderford’s Bellator MMA debut went according to plan, as the welterweight made quick work of Cody Jones at Bellator 215 on Friday night.
Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Bellator MMA kicked off the first of its back-to-back shows on a stacked weekend of MMA action. Among fights that would capture the attention of fans was the promotional debut of Austin Vanderford. Having appeared on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last year, Vanderford came up short in his quest for a UFC contract — despite earning a submission win. Perhaps the failure to see a deal offered was most surprising because Vanderford is the husband of UFC star Paige VanZant. But despite coming up short, Vanderford was back in action at Bellator 215, having signed on with Scott Coker and company instead.
Welcoming him to Bellator, Cody Jones, a 6-2 South Carolina native on a four fight win streak. While Vanderford was the favorite, he would have to earn it.
With action underway, Vanderford ate a shot early, but kept Jones on the outside at least initially. The pair settled in, and the next exchange saw a mouthpiece go flying and the pair go to the ground, Vanderford on top. A scramble saw him briefly take the back, and then it was transition city. Jones put himself back in guard, and Vanderford would work from the top for the remainder of the round, making some space in the final ninety seconds and landing hammerfists with Jones unable to scramble free. With thirty seconds to go, Vanderford used knee on belly to work his way to an arm triangle choke, and forced the tap from half guard.
Austin Vanderford def. Cody Jones by submission (arm triangle choke), Round 1, 4:49