Bellator’s return to action Friday, Bellator 242, very much highlighted the depth of its featherweight division. And its lower weight classes in general. Aside from a bantamweight main event, there was Aaron Pico vs. Solo Hatley Jr., and Tywan Claxton vs. Jay Jay Wilson.
Only one snag: with Jay Jay Wilson missing weight for the fight, which was switched to a catchweight. The undefeated grappling-based fighter would be looking for redemption as a result, against Claxton, who had been bounced from the featherweight grand prix by Emmanuel Sanchez, but got back in the win column back in December with a win over Braydon Akeo.
Wild swings from both men opened this bout, before the pair clinched. End result, Claxton pushing Wilson back to the fence. That led to a battle for head position, and while Wilson would get off the fence briefly, Claxton put him right back up against it. Off the break Wilson connected with a right hand, and Claxton tied things up again.
Later in the round, with the pair going to the ground, Wilson took the back, getting both hooks in and looking for the rear-naked choke. Claxton managed to avoid that, and a rather wild-looking guillotine just prior to the end of the frame.
Round two had the pair go back at it on the feet, with Wilson looking for a takedown about 90 seconds in. He didn’t get that, did fire off a knee, but had to watch out for an elbow from Claxton. Wilson was almost taking a page out of “Air” Claxton’s book with his jump knee attempts. But when Claxton wanted, he seemed able to control the fight up against the fence. Wilson looked to try and jump guard a couple of times, to no avail. Claxton worked in some short punches and an elbow. With seconds remaining Wilson would finally go down, and Claxton finished round two on top.
Claxton used his standup to get the fight to the fence in the opening minute of the third, missing with a big uppercut at one point. Most jockeying for head position ensued. Claxton worked in a knee. Wilson threw one in close. In a battle where strength was key, the rough weight cut of Wilson perhaps played a factor, as he seemed to wane in the final frame. After a brief and violent exchange, however, he proved he had a little left in the tank, jumping guard, and a bit later locking on with a triangle. Wilson fired off a number of strikes while Claxton was trapped, but the submission wasn’t all the way in. Wilson couldn’t beat the clock, sending it to the judges.
Who were… their usual, reliable selves. Two judges saw the fight the exact opposite way, giving 30-27 scores to different fighters. One judge scored it 29-28 Wilson, a more realistic score perhaps helped by his late rally in the third.
Official Result: Jay Jay Wilson def. Tywan Claxton by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 30-27)