It took a while to get to the gory part, but Joe Schilling lived up to his ‘Stitch ‘Em Up’ nickname Friday at Bellator 219.
At Bellator 219 in Temecula, CA on Friday night, kickboxing great Joe Schilling was back in the MMA realm. While he’d stumbled in past efforts in his mixed martial arts endeavors, this current Bellator run had a different feel. Schilling had gone all in on the cage fighting game. And on Friday against Keith Berry, he was coming off a win, and looking to put together the first win streak of his MMA career.
In short, Schilling was looking to prove he had become a well-rounded mixed martial artist. Or at least had the beginnings of one. He spoke to Cageside Press ahead of the fight about just that.
Schilling showed his progress early. He took Berry’s legs out from under him with a kick, then landed upstairs, sending Berry to the ground. Schilling then went to the ground, entering guard. Berry would make it back up, but the tone was set. Along the fence, Schilling defended, when he was taken down, he kept an arm around Berry’s head, then looked to isolate his opponent’s arm briefly. He made it back up in due course, then landed another effective leg kick. And another, delivering one higher up in between. The bulk of time left in the first was exchanges on the feet, or single strikes, until Berry finished the round with another takedown.
Round two opened with another Schilling leg kick, just testing the waters. A heavier kick upstairs, blocked, came later. Berry then landed another takedown. Schlling would spend more time than necessary on his back, closing his guard perhaps thinking of a standup. Instead, he eventually escaped on his own, and nearly landed a front kick flush to the face of Berry. Schilling would turn things up at the end of the round, connecting with a couple of solid punches that had Berry retreating.
Berry would land a trip early in the third, quickly moving to mount. And after tying Berry up, Schilling reversed, and got on top! That was a move the Joe Schilling of old might not have pulled off. An elbow followed, and Berry was cut open. Several more added to the damage. A gash over Berry’s eye would likely need stitches, and after two close rounds, the third left little doubt as to who won the fight.
Joe Schilling def. Keith Berry by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)