Eblen denies Edwards, defends title with TKO


The storyline going into Bellator 299 centered upon Fabian Edwards and his attempt to join his brother Leon as a world champion.

The storyline in the wake of Saturday’s fight card in Dublin is that his opponent, Johnny Eblen, remains undefeated and is still Bellator middleweight champ.

A bloodied Eblen (14-0) knocked down Edwards early in the third round and finished him with a ferocious flurry on the canvas to win his second defense of the title he captured last year.

In the immediate aftermath of the TKO at 21 seconds of Round 3, a fired up Eblen leaned over a grounded Edwards and shouted at him, then tried to go after Leon Edwards, the UFC’s welterweight king, who had been cornering his brother. A couple of minutes later, Eblen cooled down and walked across to offer handshakes to both Edwards brothers.

Fabian Edwards (12-3) was attempting to give his family a rare duo of champions. The only siblings currently reigning as world champs are Christian and Angela Lee in the Asia-based promotion One Championship. Angela owns the title at atomweight, while Christian holds both lightweight and welterweight belts.

Bellator previously had a pair of brothers pull off the feat. In October 2021, two-division champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vacated his lightweight title, saying he was doing so to allow his brother, Patricky, to go for the belt. And a month later, Patricky did win it, giving the Freire family a pair of Bellator titles. Patricky lost his belt last November. Patricio remains the featherweight champion.

Eblen, who fights out of South Florida, got the crowd on his side before the opening bell. He walked out to John Denver’s “Country Road,” and the fans joined in the singing, turning 3Arena into a karaoke bar.

The bout was even and tepid early on, with both fighters landing leg kicks and not much more. Eblen took a narrow advantage in Round 2, but when he attempted a takedown late in the round, Edwards defended well and landed a sharp elbow that opened a nasty gash above the champion’s eye.

When they met at the center of the cage for Round 3, Edwards targeted the area of the cut and connected with a straight left hand that sent Eblen backpedaling. But when Eblen came forward to engage again, he landed a looping right hand that floored his challenger. Eblen quickly pounced with punches to finish the job.

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