Bellator 285: Pedro Carvalho Back in Win Column, Gets Better of Mads Burnell

Pedro Carvalho, Bellator 285
Pedro Carvalho, Bellator 285 Credit: Bellator MMA

At Bellator 285 in Dublin, Mads Burnell and Pedro Carvalho went toe to toe in a matchup between ranked featherweights.

Third-ranked Burnell had been undefeated in three fights in the promotion before running into Adam Borics, who is now the next featherweight title challenger, earlier in 2022 in one of the best main events of the year in any promotion. Pedro Carvalho, the fifth ranked 145lb fighter in Bellator, looked to rebound in this fight, having seen a dip in his fortunes as he holds only one win in his last four fights including his loss in his title shot against Patricio Pitbull.

The primarily orthodox Burnell came right out, pushed the southpaw Carvalho back to the fence, and shot a takedown. After switching off from a double leg Burnell was able to get on the back of the SBG fighter. Carvalho escaped, got to the feet, and came back with an effective body-kicking game on the feet but Mads shot another takedown, got to the back again, and this time got a hook in. Carvalho kept escaping and standing back up, but the chain wrestling of the Dane was able to trap his Portuguese opponent in a vicious cycle. Pedro eventually escaped once more and his incessant volume became a problem for Burnell on the feet but Mads shot a double leg and took the back again. Carvalho seemed unable to stop any takedowns, but was able to stifle sustained grappling success as he reversed the position. Seemed to gain top position, but Mads was able to reverse again, continuing the high pace, and get the back one final time in the last thirty seconds. He tried to threaten a choke but never got particularly close. The round could have gone either way as Burnell had the grappling success and Carvalho had the striking success.

The second round started with more success from Mads on the feet than the first, where he had almost no striking success. Another disruption of the fight’s meta seemed to come when Pedro stuffed the first takedown, but once again the chain wrestling of Burnell was too much and once again he took the back. Many mat returns and stand-ups later the pair were back to striking. Pedro reversed the next takedown and threatened a guillotine choke, but Burnell’s superior positional grappling saw him take the back again. Mads Burnell had refused to put the second hook in throughout the fight and Pedro Carvalho once again escaped as a result. Carvalho threatened a d’Arce from top position but its only effect was to lose him top position and eventually lead to his back being taken again. Towards the end of round two Burnell began to appear tired as he backed up to the fence under a striking onslaught, got taken down without resisting, and ended the round on bottom while eating significant ground and pound strikes. Carvalho almost definitely won the second due to how he closed it out.

Going into the third round two questions loomed large, what score did the judges have and was Mads’ gas tank failing him? Carvalho came out with a high striking pace once again but Mads landed a decent counter or two while getting tagged. Carvalho cleanly stuffed the first takedown from the Dane and began to put damage on his foe in the clinch with brutal knees before landing a takedown into side control. Short elbows served to keep Pedro busy from top position and do accumulative damage over the next thirty seconds until Burnell re-guarded and tried to execute a half guard sweep, which Pedro denied. When the bell rang Carvalho’s chances at winning the decision seemed very promising as he was able to maintain top position, do a bit of damage, and halt Burnell’s sweep attempts for the rest of the fight.

When the scorecards were read all three judges had the fight for Pedro Carvalho, with one judge giving him all three rounds.

Official Result: Pedro Carvalho def. Mads Burnell by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)


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