Bellator 278: Enrique Barzola Wins Decision Over Mikhailov, Earns Date with Magomedov

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Enrique Barzola, Bellator 278
Enrique Barzola, Bellator 278 Credit: Bellator MMA

Newcomer Nikita Mikhailov walked right into a bantamweight grand prix opportunity in a wild card fight at Bellator 278. He also walked into a very tough opponent in Enrique Barzola.

Ultimately, the veteran fighter was too much for Fedor Team’s Mikhailov to overcome. Barzola used heavy top pressure and superior grappling throughout, making life very difficult for the short-notice newcomer en route to securing a unanimous decision win — and a date with Magomed Magomedov in the tournament’s quarter-final round.

With the action underway on Friday, Mikhailov fanned on a couple of leg kicks early; Barzola held center, backing the Russian up to the fence. Mikhailov then took the lead for a moment, pressing forward. Mikhailov later fired a spinning back kick high that just barely missed. Later, Barzola would dump Mikhailov on his back and pile on with strikes. Mikhailov survived, but Barzola would turn things into a grinding affair, pinning the newcomer again later in the round, forcing him to scramble free before the bell.

Again in round two, Barzola would back Mikhailov up to the fence, forcing him down. Before long, Barzola was on top, and he would spend a good amount of control time there. Later in the round, he’d transition to the back, looking to sink in the rear-naked choke. For a moment, it seemed like the submission might be there, but Mikhailov, flailing initially, managed to break the hold and escape. He’d have to contend with a d’arce attempt moments later, but would free himself, scramble up, and land a takedown of his own.

The problem being, as was true for most of the fight, Mikhailov’s success was short lived. Barzola earned another takedown of his own, again taking the back and sinking in the rear-naked choke. Mikhailov would survive, and head to the third.

In round three, Mikhailov made a fight of it, but Barzola again had the edge in the grappling. Plenty of fun scrambles, and Barzola threatened with an anaconda. Too often, however, Mikhailov was on his back, with Barzola putting his weight on his opponent. With just over 90 seconds remaining, Barzola again took the back and sunk in a rear-naked choke, as he had more than once in the second. Mikhailov fought the hands, and managed to survive, getting to his knees then posting up — only to be dragged down, practically ragdolled, again. Barzola fired hammer fists in the final minute, but couldn’t put Mikhailov away, not that it mattered.

Official Result: Enrique Barzola def. Nikita Mikhailov by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) 

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