Bellator 290 results: Johnny Eblen grinds out Anatoly Tokov for first middleweight title defense

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Johnny Eblen has picked up the first defense of his Bellator middleweight title.

Eblen (13-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA) outworked Anatoly Tokov over the course of 25 minutes to earn a one-sided unanimous decision from the official judges, who issued scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46. The middleweight title bout was the Bellator 290 co-main event at Kia Forum.

The fight began with a feel-out process as both fighters tried to find the range. Action began to ramp up midway through the frame with sharp exchanges. Eblen worked an outside leg kick while Tokov (31-4 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) popped out a nice jab between a few moments in the clinch. Takedown defense was solid from both in the first round, but that would prove to change as the fight wore on.

The action started hot and heavy in the second. Punching exchanges were frequent as Eblen pressed forward. Tokov cleanly stuffed a takedown attempt and stunned Eblen with a big punch on the exit. Just when it seemed like Tokov was going to mount serious momentum, Eblen answered back with a huge elbow to drop Tokov, and then completed a takedown to control the remainder of the round.

After trading strikes to begin the third, Eblen shot in hard for a takedown. Tokov worked back to his feet, but Elben stuck with the body lock and began to wear down his opponent. Eventually Tokov broke free, stuffed a takedown and began moving forward. However, it would be Eblen who landed a few more big punches in the closing moments before the championship rounds.


In the fourth round, Eblen went back to his wrestling game, keeping Tokov pressed against the cage. The champ lifted and dumped his opponent to the mat, controlling from top position. Fatigue became a major factor at this point in the fight, as it was apparent that Tokov was fading in a dominant round for Eblen.

With just five minutes left to work, Tokov needed to change the course of the fight. He was able to land a few nice strikes, but Eblen halted that momentum in the clinch. For the cherry on top, Eblen hit a beautiful German suplex just seconds before the fight reached the final horn.

Eblen walks away with the first defense of his Bellator middleweight title while remaining undefeated through 13 professional fights.

Tokov, 32, won seven straight bouts to reach a title shot, but was ultimately shut out by Eblen in his fourth pro loss.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator 290 results include:

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie