It was a strong first round for Ilara Joanne at Bellator 237, but slowly, Kana Watanabe began to take over and finished Joanne with under a minute left.
In a promotional crossover match, Ilara Joanne will take on Kana Watanabe. Joanne is a respected prospect coming off a win over Bec Rawlings in her Bellator debut. Watanabe is 8-0-1 in her career and 3-0 in RIZIN.
Early on, Kana Watanabe landed a pair of counter right hands. Ilara Joanne then connect with a right hand. Joanne continued to press forward, landing a heavy combination of hooks. Strong blows continued to land for Joanne on the feet then she went for a takedown. Watanabe ended up on top, but right into a Joanne triangle. Watanabe escaped, then passed to side control. Watanabe landed some ground and pound, and Joanne squirmed to half guard. Before the round came to a close, Watanabe had Joanne’s back.
Joanne landed a leg kick then closed the distance quickly in the second round. Watanabe was the one that brought it to the ground with a trip though, but Joanne smoothly transitioned to top position as they hit the ground. Watanabe sat up against the cage but Joanne held strong. It was a bit of a stalemate at this point, with Joanne keeping her hands clasped and Watanabe landing light punches in her seated position. Watanabe reversed position slowly but surely, then unloaded once she was on top.
The fighters came together quickly again and Watanabe tripped Joanne to the canvas, resisting a reversal attempt. Joanne went for an armbar, but Watanabe defended and landed a strong shot from top position. Watanabe moved to half guard and Joanne struggled to push Watanabe away. Watanabe soon took the back of Joanne and began to unleash consistent ground and pound with 30 seconds left and was able to get the stoppage in the final round.
Kana Watanabe def. Ilara Joanne by TKO (Punches) in Round 3 (4:39)