In the first defence of her women’s flyweight title, Juliana Velasquez faced Denise Kielholtz atop the Bellator 262 card on Friday.
After capturing the championship from Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in her last outing, the undefeated Brazilian was looking to improve to 12-0 in Uncasville, CT. Opposite her, Bellator kickboxing champ Denise Kielholtz, riding a four-fight win streak and looking to become a two-sport champ under the Bellator banner.
The first thing you noticed in Friday’s title fight between Juliana Velasquez and Denise Kielholtz was the size difference. Velasquez towered over the challenger, who looked to land leg kicks and find a way inside early in the opening round. Kielholtz’s entries were explosive, her left hand barely missing the mark at times. As the round progressed, Kielholtz hit the mark, while Velasquez answered back.
Round two found Velasquez looking a little more sure of herself. Kielholtz, throughout the fight to that point, had held center, keeping the champ on the outside more often than not. But the Brazilian pushed forward, leading with her jab. And the more she used that jab, the more she could unload her left hand. With just under two minutes left, Velasquez changed levels for a takedown, but Kielholtz easily fought it off.
As the round went on, Kielholtz landed kicks to the inside and outside of the champ’s lead leg, before the pair exchanged fire. Kielholtz definitely had more behind the bulk of her shots, but Velasquez had begun catching up in terms of output.
In the third, Juliana Velasquez was once again pushed to the outside. She began firing leg kicks, and continued to work her jab. Kielholtz was head hunting, but she was also showing damage around the eye care of the champ’s jab. Come the championship rounds, it felt as if Velasquez had really found her stride, while Denise Kielholtz was holding on to a puncher’s chance to win the fight.
The chance to finish would not come in round four, however. Instead, Velasquez continued to circle, land, and circle out again. Kielholtz was leaking blood by the end of the round, while the champion looked the much fresher fighter. Velasquez would see a takedown stuffed late, with Kielholtz landing a left on the exit, but the champ was never in danger.
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Kielholtz would land her best punch of the fight in the opening minute of the fifth and final round of Bellator 262’s main event. That knocked Velasquez off-balance, and she was clearly in danger, but moved out of harm’s way. Kielholtz was the much busier fighter in the first half of the round; Velasquez’s best moment was a kick landing to the body. She’d try for a takedown, and would again in the final minute of the round, but in the end the pair traded to the final bell.
Come the scorecards, Velasquez took home the split decision, a result unpopular with the crowd in attendance. But in a close fight, Kielholtz simply took too much damage once the champ got her jab going.
Official Result: Juliana Velasquez def. Denise Kielholtz by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)