Mansour Barnaoui def. Adam Piccolotti via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:51
Mansour Barnaoui (20-4) following his victory "I did exactly what I wanted to do, and I won.
"I was coming to Bellator to make the tournament and win the belt.
"I really would like to make the tournament and fight against Usman (Nurmagomedov) or (Patricky) 'Pitbull.'
"Things are incredible for me. First, many family and friends came here to watch me. Even the player, (AC Milan's Ismael) Bennacer. I was very happy to meet him. It gave me a lot of energy.
"He tried to put me immediately on the ground but I was able to stop him. I do what I already think about. But it's working, because my training was exactly on this because we knew he wanted to put me on the ground.
"I just want to say thank you for coming and supporting me and continue to follow me because the show is not finished here.
"I really don't care who will win or who has the belt. I'm ready to fight the winner, to beat him, and to take home the belt.
"I'm very happy. I would really like to be in Paris at the next show, and I would like to fight in Paris for the belt."
No. 2-Fabian Edwards def. Charlie Ward via unanimous decision
Fabian Edwards (11-2) following his victory: "He was just saying how much he respects me, and I was saying the same thing to him. I've trained with a few of his coaches. So yeah, just sharing our respect for one another.
"(Leon Edwards) is so proud. Obviously he put a lot of hard work in so it's been a good successful year for the team. We've had some tough performances but we've come out on top in the end so it's been a good-good solid year for Renegade team so yeah he's over the moon.
"It's only right. We've got a lot of guys from Birmingham; a lot of talent, a lot of skill. So, let's hope they bring it back.
"I'd give it like a five (out of 10). What would you give it? It was alright. Like I said, the thing that Charlie had was that he was tough and was gritty. There's not a lot of guys in the division that would have ate that head kick and kept their wits about them. So fair play to Charlie. He gave me a good test tonight and I appreciate that test.
"It wasn't enough in my opinion, but we'll see what they say. I'm here. My brother says 'Let's keep on racking up the wins and they can't deny you.' Not every single performance can be an elbow to a ground-and-pound finish or a flying knee or an upkick. Sometimes you have to go in there and do what you have to do to secure the win and I learned that tonight.
"I reckon controlling the distance a bit more. If I didn't rush in and was busier with my kicks, it would've been a perfect performance. I've been in this game for a while, but not as long as some of these other guys. I'm learning.
"Anybody who's ever beat me in anything, of course I'd like to get it back. (A potential rematch with Costello van Steenis) is even a fight I did ask for. But we'll see what Bellator wants to make. I'd love to entertain that fight again."
Tim Wilde def. Saul Rogers via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Tim Wilde (14-5-1) following his victory: "Thank you. I agree; I felt like he slowed down considerably after the first round. I was able to time his shots. Not only his takedowns, but his striking. He definitely was weaker in the second and third rounds, but he's certainly the strongest opponent I've fought. I definitely thought I won the second and third rounds.
"Leon is a very good friend. He's a teammate, he's a role model, he's a mentor, he's a coach. He's 'Mr. I Can Do It All,' that's his nickname at the gym. He's such a nice guy. I'm very fortunate. He doesn't do it for everyone but I'm very fortunate that he will invest a tiny bit of his time into me and I think because my results have spoken for that over these last few fights and I'm very grateful to him. It's an honor to have him in my corner and he makes me dig deeper and fight hard.
"It would mean the world. There's so many talented fighters in the whole of the U.K. With Leon being a world champion, eyes are on Birmingham and Birmingham MMA. And I just had another Fight of the Night. I think they should change my nickname to Tim 'Fight of the Night' Wilde. I would love for Bellator to come back to Birmingham.
"Yes certainly I would love to get on Bellator Dublin. I always go into my fights looking to finish my opponent if they give me an opportunity and you know I think people would be surprised that I didn't put Saul away with some of the shots I landed. His nose was badly, badly broken. He was cut open to bits. I have to give him massive credit and respect. He's tough. I was looking for the finish. I wanted to make a statement tonight. I wanted to get on the microphone and tell John McCarthy that I wanted Scott Coker to consider me for the lightweight tournament next year. I believe that beating Saul should prove I am the No. 1 lightweight in the U.K.
"I'll hit you with everything that I can, legally. I'll throw backhands, I'll throw spinning things, I'll karate chop you. I'm flashy, I'm exciting. Saul's a high-level grappler, but I ain't scared to wrestle with these guys. I'm working with Leon Edwards every week; I'm doing the work Leon's doing, and it's paying off.
"Mate he has a squeeze on him, but I was safe. There wasn't any gargling. There was no panic. Listen, he likes to jump on the neck. We've drilled everywhere; Peruvians, D'Arce, rear nakeds. Man, I'm sick of defending chokes. Listen he obviously felt he could get them, he went for them, but I wasn't in danger.
"Not so much the power – I know he caught me a couple of times. But like, he was strong and got a big squeeze on him. He had a big presence. I'd be curious what he weighed in there. He had a very big feel, but I grapple with a lot of grapplers that are tighter and have more compression than he had.
"Leon, he's an amazing MMA fighter, he's a champion, he's a great teammate. He's going to be a great coach one day. He's so calm in the backstage and fight week. The experience he has and has learned over the 15-16 years of fighting and training he shares that with you. He feels you with confidence and puts you at ease. When you go into war with Leon 'Rocky' Edwards in your corner you feel pretty good.
No. 8-Justin Gonzales def. Andrew Fisher via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Justin Gonzales (14-1) following his victory: "This has been fun. This place is a beautiful place, these are beautiful people. I'd definitely like to come back and show the world what's up.
"I felt some of those shots and you can tell at the end of the fight that he kind of wanted out of there but he's a tough son of a bitch. He's gritty. I knew he was going to be tough and hard to put away so much respect to him. I tagged him with some hard ones and he kept fighting.
"We put in the work. We worked on a lot of different things. I felt this was the best my hands, my striking looked in a long time, maybe ever. My cardio felt great. And look at the results. If I had another 10-15 seconds, I think I do get that stoppage.
"That's a tough question because there's so much movement in this division. There's a lot of people. I want to make my way to the belt. I think I still got to earn it, so sh-t man, give me (Pedro) Carvalho, give me (Daniel) Weichel, give me (Mads) Burnell. I don't care, I'll take all of them. They can all get it.
"It was a long flight. Longer than I'd like, but it's just part of the game. I got to come to Italy. If you want to travel, you have to be able to recover. Thanks Bellator for getting me out here. I feel like I recovered very well because of the great camp I had; I think this is one of the best weight classes I've ever had.
"Just keep growing. I think if I can keep with my performance like this. There's a couple things I saw and I didn't do but if you go to a job and you don't need to unload the whole truck, you just need to unload one tool and that's all you got to use, then so be it. If that's all you got to do to get the job done. I took him down, I could have taken him down more but I honestly didn't have to so I'm happy with that. I'm going to take a little break, spend some time with my family and my friends and just kind of rest. Let my body heal and I'm back to the gym man, back to the drawing board. If you're not growing in this sport, you're getting passed so we're continuously growing, continuously adding things to our arsenal. We'll see what's next.
"He was just kind of smiling at me. I don't think it was any disrespect. I felt those shots tagging him. I was just letting him know, 'That was a good one!' He tried to shake it off, but we both knew. That was a good one.
"Right now I don't have anything on the books, but I just saw the Bellator vs. RIZIN card is getting put into effect. I'd like to go show the world what's up, let them know what 'J-Train' is all about, so I don't know if Coker wants to put me on that or not."
"I don't see how they could. I think Kai Kamaka was a tough opponent; I put him down. Andrew Fisher was on a six-fight win streak; I derailed him. I don't think they can deny me a ranked opponent, especially after a performance like that.
Bellator 287 preliminary card results include:
- Daniele Scatizzi def. Davy Gallon via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Costello van Steenis def. Kamil Oniszczuk via submission (D'Arce choke) – Round 2, 3:02
- Alfie Davis def. Thibault Gouti via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chiara Penco def. Manuela Marconetto via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Yves Landu def. Walter Cogliandro via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Simon Biyong def. Dragos Zubco via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:36
- Nicolo Solli def. Bourama Camara via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Luke Trainer def. Lucas Alsina via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:53
- Steven Hill def. Andrea Fusi via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-26)
- Sarvarjon Hamidov def. Jose Maria Tome via TKO (kick to body) – Round 1, 1:01