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Ex-Newberry wrestler Kelly Anundson wins 1st round in Bellator 205 lb. tourney

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Former Newberry College NCAA All-American wrestler Kelly Anundson won his first match in the Bellator Fighting Championships Light-Heavyweight (205 pound) Summer Series tournament at Bellator 121 at Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Friday.

Anundson earned a unanimous decision over Rodney Wallace in a three-round match (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

Sherdog.com’s play-by-play of the Anundson-Wallace match described the former Newberry mat star – a three-time NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships qualifier who earned All-American honors at 197 pounds in 2008 – scoring numerous takedowns throughout the match and keeping his opponent -- a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) veteran -- on the mat much of the bout. At the end of the second round, Sherdog.com wrote, “Wallace is in a bad spot, bleeding from his nose as Anundson continues to land a steady stream of ground-and-pound to the bell.”

In writing about local former football star Wallace, the Orangeburg, S.C. “Times and Democrat” wrote that Anundson “used his grappling to neutralize Wallace.” The South Carolina paper went on to say, “Despite Anundson’s win, Wallace never appeared to be in trouble in the fight, and was the stronger fighter earlier in the third round, working for submissions before Anundson was able to regain control.”

Prior to the match, Anundson said, “I’m very honored that Bellator chose me for it and I think it validates my career in a way. There are lots of guys signed with Bellator who aren’t in the tournament. (Wallace has) fought in the biggest shows in front of a lot of people, so he has that big-show experience. As far as talent, I don’t think he’s better than me at anything."

Wallace falls to 21-9-1, while Anundson is now 8-2 since launching his professional mixed martial arts career in January 2010. The former wrestler signed with Bellator in mid-February 2014, saying, “I was looking for a permanent place where I can get consistent fights with top competition in the world.” He won his Bellator debut on April 4 with a submission over previously undefeated Volkan Oezdemir at Bellator 115 in Reno, Nev.

By winning the first round of the Bellator Light-Heavyweight tournament, Anundson advances to the semifinals where he will go up against undefeated Philipe Lins (9-0) of Brazil at a date to be determined. Lins submitted Austen Heidlage at 2:45 of the first round by a rear-naked choke. Others who will be featured in the semifinals include Egidijus Valavcius and Liam McGeary.

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