John Salter dominated two rounds on the ground, and survived a third-round onslaught from Costello Van Steenis at Bellator 233 on Friday.
The main event of Bellator 233 in Thackerville on Friday saw a grappling clinic unfold. John Salter, looking to work his way back to a rematch with Rafael Lovato Jr., squared off against Dutch standout Costello Van Steenis. Salter had come a long way since an early-career UFC run, while Van Steenis was looking to make a name for himself, topping a Bellator card for the first time after winning four straight fights in the promotion.
Van Steenis was explosive to open the Bellator 233 main event. He fired a number of high kicks, chasing Salter down. But that played into Salter’s hands, as after weathering the storm he was able to take the Dutch fighter to the ground. Trapping Van Steenis against the cage, he peppered the midsection with punches; when Van Steenis moved to explode up, Salter trapped a leg, and began working the body some more. Van Steenis would finally power up, but Salter would stay on him, moving from a double leg to a single leg takedown attempt. A guillotine choke by Van Steenis, trying to defend the takedown, would come up short, and Salter would move to his opponent’s back, landing a number of shots before the round ended.
In the second, Van Steenis came out firing again, with head kick and flying knee attempts. Salter found himself overwhelmed, pressed up against the cage. Only problem for Van Steenis, Salter off his back was a very formidable foe. He was able to deftly transition to top, and take his opponent’s back, firing knees to the body. Getting one hook in, and using a half-guard from the back, Salter would work for a number of rear-naked choke attempts. Van Steenis managed to survive, and reversed position with a minute remaining. He wisely got back to his feet, but couldn’t make anything happen prior to the buzzer.
The third and final round of Salter vs. Van Steenis saw the Dutch fighter fire off some spinning attacks. Those missed, but a hard right hand landed moments later. Van Steenis went on the hunt, firing kicks. Van Steenis tagged Salter several more times, but Salter was able to close the distance, looking for a takedown. Van Steenis fought it off, but landed a nasty kick to the midsection. He then got Salter down, with Salter welcoming a chance to fight off his back. Van Steenis tried to land some bombs from the top, and chopped at Salter’s legs. But that wasted precious time, with the clock winding down. Salter would land one last takedown with just under ninety seconds remaining. He was bloodied, but controlled the remainder of the fight, en route to a unanimous decision win.
Official Result: John Salter def. Costello Van Steenis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)