Yaroslav Amosov found a successful formula early on and went back to it again and again on Friday night, grinding out a dominant decision victory to dethrone Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima in the main event of Bellator 260 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
All three judges scored the bout for Amosov, with one giving him all five rounds and the other two judges scoring a round for Lima.
At 26-0, Amosov is the winningest undefeated fighter in all of MMA. He also is the first Ukrainian champion in a major promotion.
The 26-year-old Amosov, a three-time combat sambo world champion, landed a takedown on his first attempt two minutes into the fight and kept Lima on his back for the rest of the first round. In Round 2, Amosov again got the takedown two minutes in and remained on top until the bell. He took the same route in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
Lima had no answers. Midway through the third round, he did manage to get the bout back to standing, where his dangerous striking skills could come into play, but the champ fought cautiously, not wanting to get taken back to the mat. Amosov used fluid footwork and smart distance control to nullify any advances by Lima.
In the fifth round, with a minute left in the fight and Lima again on his back, the champ attempted an armbar, his first submission try in over 20 minutes of ground fighting. But Amosov defended smartly and remained in top control until the bell, at which point he raised his arms, knowing he now was a world champion.
"I'm happy," Amosov said afterward in the cage. "It's my life, a very long time in training, and it's my result. I'm happy."
For Lima (32-9), it was a second straight loss. Last October, he attempted to add the Bellator middleweight belt to his trophy case but lost to Gegard Mousasi. Now he has seen his third reign at welterweight come to an end.
Bellator 260 was the promotion's first U.S. event in over a year to take place in an arena with a live audience.