In a fun, back-and-forth bout, Tony Johnson was able to knock out Joe Schilling with a vicious counter left hook in the third round at Bellator 229.
Joe Schilling is a guy that fans of MMA and kickboxing, and followers of Bellator, are very familiar with. The 35-year-old has a 23-9 professional kickboxing record, competing in GLORY from 2013-2016 and Bellator Kickboxing from 2016-2017. His professional MMA career began in 2008, but didn’t resume until 2014, when he joined Bellator MMA. He’d fought five times for the MMA portion of the promotion ahead of Bellator 229, going 3-2 and winning his last two bouts.
Challenging Schilling was former Dana White Contender Series victor Tony Johnson. The 36-year-old upset Alton Cunningham in June, but didn’t earn a UFC contract on the night. The UFC’s loss is Bellator’s gain, as Johnson returned to middleweight in his promotional debut. Johnson’s previous three bouts, all victories, came at light heavyweight. He’d also competed at welterweight and middleweight throughout his 10-fight, eight-win career.
The duo traded leg kicks to start the bout, with Johnson pushing to control the center of the cage. Schilling had the first flurry of note, forcing Johnson against the cage and looking to strike fast from the clinch after 40 seconds. Shortly after the one-minute mark, a Schilling leg kick dropped Johnson, but Schilling was unable to capitalize. Schilling kept the kicks coming, landing a handful of leg and body kicks quickly afterward.
The pace slowed a bit after the opening minutes, with both fighters landing some strikes and gauging their striking ranges. Schilling worked hard for the clinch, showcasing a diverse and aggressive striking style that kept Johnson guessing. With a minute left, a right hand from Johnson dropped Schilling, and Johnson pounced. Landing several heavy shots, Johnson worked for an anaconda choke, but Schilling was able to escape and survive to the bell.
Schilling kept the leg kicks coming early in round two, as Johnson continued to march forward. The first strike of significance came after about a minute, when a Schilling left hand right down the middle cracked Johnson. While Johnson continued to try to press, his nose began to bleed. The first half of the second round was fought in Schilling’s striking range, and Johnson responded by landing a takedown. Schilling responded well, getting the fight back on it’s feet in no time.
Back on the feet, Schilling continued to throw kicks from distance, while Johnson controlled the center of the ring and countered with right hands. As the round came to a close, we were likely looking at even scorecards.
It was more of the same to open round three: leg kicks from Schilling and pressure from Johnson. Schilling circled the outside, finding less openings than he had in the past. The fight was paused after about a minute, when an accidental eye poke from Schilling’s left thumb landed in the right eye of Johnson. The fight quickly resumed, and the crowd ooh’d and ahh’d over some spinning strikes from Schilling that barely missed.
After two minutes, Schilling threw a right elbow that missed, and Johnson countered with a huge left hook than clipped the kickboxer right on the chin. Schilling was out instantly, as his legs gave out and he crumpled to the floor. Johnson landed one more strike before the official jumped in the way and ended the bout.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) October 5, 2019
Result: Tony Johnson def. Joe Schilling by KO (punch) in Round 3 (2:07)