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Bellator 254 video: Shamil Nikaev vs. Kemran Lachinov is Bellator’s best 2020 prelim bout

We wouldn’t blame you if you occasionally glossed over Bellator’s preliminary cards. Sure, the undercards boast a fair share of wild finishes and controversies. But sometimes the matchmaking can be the equivalent of a 1980s Saturday morning pro wrestling TV show, a series of mismatches.

If you did this on Thursday night, though, you missed out. Bellator’s final prelim bout of 2020 was quite simply its best, as welterweights Shamil Nikaev and Kemran Lachinov put on a memorable matchup, particularly in the final round.

Nikaev (10-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) got the better of things over the first 10 minutes, as he outgrappled his foe. Lachinov (10-3 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) showed solid defense to keep from getting put in a bad spot, and he landed often enough to keep Nikaev honest.

It was clear going into round three Lachinov needed a finish. And that Nikaev was tiring. Lachinov threw everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent, whose arms kept dropping. Nikaev absorbed blow after blow and often seemed a shot away from being put to sleep. But whenever it would seem he was just about done, he’d find a wind and tag Lachinov hard enough to slow the onslaught.

The battered and bruised competitors made it to the horn, ending one of the best rounds of the year, regardless of promotion or place on the card. As compelling as Lachinov’s third-round effort was, it wasn’t enough to make a difference on the scorecards, as the judges got it right with 29-28, across-the-board scores.

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