Bellator 265 Results: Jornel Lugo Chokes Out Keith Lee As Opening Round Expires

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Jornel Lugo and Keith Lee, Bellator 265
Jornel Lugo and Keith Lee, Bellator 265 face-off Credit: Bellator MMA

In a way, Jornel Lugo vs. Keith Lee at Friday’s Bellator 265 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota felt like an audition.

Consider it a dry run for the potential (but not yet official) bantamweight grand prix, widely expected to be the promotion’s next tournament, sometime in 2022. Albeit it Friday’s bout came at a contracted 140lb catchweight.

Lugo was the undefeated, up-and-coming talent. Lee, coming off a valiant loss to Raufeon Stots, was a prospect in his own right, looking to step out from under the shadow of brother Kevin Lee, of UFC fame.

The winner had a good shot at turning up in the grand prix, assuming it went forward.

Out of the gate on Friday, Lee looked to be the quicker fighter. Quick hand speed, and solid footwork saw him double-pump his jab, then escape out of harm’s way. Lugo, however, would come over the top with a right hand off a caught kick, landing the most significant strike through the opening ninety seconds.

As the round progressed, Lugo found his range, capitalizing on his reach advantage, and mixing in a few calf kicks. With a minute and a half remaining, Lugo dropped Lee, and immediately pounced on a choke — but quickly allowed Lee back to his feet when it was apparent the submission wasn’t there.

A later submission attempt would pay off, however. In the dying seconds of the round, Lugo jumped on his opponent’s back, locking in a rear-naked choke before he’d even secured the position. Lee rolled, Lugo rolled with him, and just before the buzzer, Lee went out! He was out at the buzzer, but leapt right to his feet, and it looked like the fight might continue, before the ref clarified things by waving it off.

That performance was exactly what Jornel Lugo needed, as he becomes the first to stop Lee, and has made a statement to the 135lb weight class. With the victory, Lugo improves to 7-0.

Official Result: Jornel Lugo def. Keith Lee by technical submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 5:00

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