Cheick Kongo loses split decision as Bellator holds first major MMA card in France

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Bellator MMA made history in Paris on Saturday, but many local Accor Arena fans returned home disappointed.Timothy Johnson claimed a split decision victory over veteran Paris-born heavyweight Cheick Kongo in the main event of France’s first major mixed martial arts card ever.

France, which had been one of the last major countries without legal MMA, recognized the sport earlier this year with the French Boxing Commission tasked with overseeing regulation.

Johnson, a 35-year-old player from Lamberton, Minnesota, claimed the three-round victory by trapping Kongo against the cage for long three-round spells. By scoring his third consecutive victory, he avenged a first-round knockout loss to Kongo two years ago.

All three judges scored the bout 29-28.

Kongo, 45, who has twice competed for the Bellator Heavyweight Championship and was previously one of the top contenders in the UFC, found himself in front of the relentless clinch style he was known for. . He just couldn’t get Johnson away from him.

“Disappointed, of course,” Kongo said afterward.

The Bellator Paris event has been split into two parts for broadcast purposes. In previous fights, dubbed Bellator 248, welterweight Michael “Venom” Page defeated Ross Houston by unanimous decision in the title fight.

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