Carvalho Unleashes Brutal KO To Retain

When Rafael Carvalho made his first successful defense of the Bellator middleweight title — a split decision over Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 155 — many criticized it as one of the worst decisions in the history of MMA.

Carvalho was out to prove his critics wrong and leave it out of the judges’ hands in the rematch at Bellator 176. He did just that, scoring a fourth-round knockout over Manhoef to retain.

Carvalho tried to come out swinging, but Manhoef countered. Both displayed hard, one-strike knockout power in the first minute. Carvalho gets a takedown next to a cage wall at the end of the second minute, which transitioned into a clinch against the cage. Manhoef caught a knee and took Carvalho down. Carvalho kept Manhoef off balance by pushing with his feet, but Manhoef found his way back onto Carvalho.

Carvalho came after Manhoef early in the second round. Manhoef seemed to have more control over his strikes in the round, while it took Carvalho a little bit to re-discover his range against the challenger. Manhoef’s punches, however, turned a little wilder, as he looked a bit gassed by the end of the second.

Manhoef unleashed a head kick early on in the third. Carvalho, meanwhile, continued usage of just throwing one overhand punch with no combinations. Manhoef defended a takedown by grabbing the cage, causing the referee to deduct one point from his score. Manhoef became a little more active, like a sense of urgency hit him, and ended up getting a weak takedown about halfway through the third. Manhoef, however, did little to nothing in takedown and subsequent clinch position.

Manhoef came forward a lot more at the start of the fourth round, sensing the realistic chance he would now need a stoppage to win the bout and title. However, the gas seemed to run out after about two minutes, and Manhoef slowed down once again.

But just when people were thinking it was Manhoef’s best round thus far, it was over. Carvalho got Manhoef focused on his hands that the challenger did not see Carvalho unleash a hard kick, causing a knockout.

Bellator 176 Results:
Rafael Carvalho def. Melvin Manhoef via KO (Rd. 4, 3:15)
Anastasia Yankova def. Elina Kallionidou via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Mihail Nica def. Samba Coulibaly via submission (anaconda choke) (Rd. 1, 0:36)
Valeriu Mircea def. Djamil Chan via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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