And still the champ! Monster Energy congratulates Johnny Eblen on defeating Anatoly Tokov in the co-main event bout at Bellator 290 in Inglewood, California, on Saturday night. In the Bellator MMA Middleweight World Championship fight, the 31-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, went the distance for a unanimous decision win (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).
Monster Energy’s Eblen (13-0) stepped into the Octagon as the reigning Bellator Middleweight Champion. Eblen earned the title in June 2022 at Bellator 282 with a unanimous decision victory over Gegard Mousasi.
Eblen’s opponent in his first title defense at Bellator 290 was 32-year-old Anatoly Tokov (31-4) from Russia. A former Middleweight Champion in the Absolute Championship Berkut promotion, Tokov received a shot at the Bellator MMA title after a ground-and-pound victory over Muhammad Abdullah at Bellator 282 in June 2022.
In the opening moments of their title fight, Eblen and Tokov traded jabs and kicks from the distance, each trying to find an opening for their grappling skills. Tokov landed a lead jab, but Eblen began chipping away at his stamina with punishing calf kicks. Although Eblen was dealing with a cut under his right eye from Tokov’s jabs, he settled the score with a heavy overhand punch.
The second round saw Eblen increase the pressure and take the Russian off his feet with a massive elbow strike. Heading into Round 3, Eblen stepped up the attack on the feet. He also scored the takedowns he was looking for earlier, controlling Tokov from the top and using every opportunity to land elbows and punches.
Although Tokov held his own against the attacks, it was Eblen retaining the upper hand. In the final seconds of the fight, Eblen launched Tokov in the air with a spectacular German Suplex right before the bell. The judges pronounced Eblen the winner by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46) in a showcase of strategy and all-around control.
“That’s how I fight. As the fight goes on, I get better,” said Monster Energy’s Eblen about completing his first successful defense of the Bellator MMA Middleweight World Championship title.
Also known as ‘The Human Cheat Code,’ Eblen made his promotional debut in 2019 at Bellator 218 with a victory against Chauncey Foxworth. Previously, he built his skills as a collegiate wrestler at the University of Missouri before starting his successful MMA career in the Shamrock FC promotion. Eblen remains undefeated in 13 professional appearances.