David Rickels took the better part of a round to get rolling, but once he did, there was little Lloyd Woodard could do to stop him.
Rickels (12-1, 6-1 Bellator) earned a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Woodard in the Bellator 87 main event at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich., on Thursday night, cementing his spot in the promotion’s lightweight tournament semifinals. Judges Todd Anderson, Eric Colon and Cardo Urso all submitted identical 29-28 scorecards in favor of the Kansas native.
Woodard (12-3, 2-3 Bellator) was relentless in the contest’s initial five minutes, slamming his foe to the mat with a belly-to-back suplex early and remaining heavy from top position through most of the first round. After an entertaining exchange of submission attempts from both fighters, Rickels finished strong, landing some heavy ground-and-pound before the frame expired.
“The Caveman” kept the momentum going in rounds two and three, keeping the Missoula, Mont., native on his heels with an aggressive standup attack that included knees, body kicks, left hooks and uppercuts. Woodard would have his moments over the final 10 minutes, as he briefly rocked his foe with a straight right and landed a pair of takedowns. It wasn’t enough to overcome the all-out assault of Rickels, who was able to impose his will on the feet as the bout progressed.