Bellator MMA

Logan Storley may have stamped his pass to a Bellator welterweight championship title fight following a thrilling five-round showdown with Neiman Gracie at Bellator 274. Storley and Gracie threw grappling out the window and exchanged leather for 25 minutes in front of the Mohegan Sun crowd in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Saturday night.

Storley, a four-time NCAA Division I All-American at one of the most prestigious wrestling universities, and Gracie, a submission ace from a lineage of jiu-jitsu royalty, canceled out each other's strengths. The fight dissolved into a sometimes messy, but consistently entertaining scrap. Storley told CBS Sports this week that he would push the pace and he stuck to his word. The collegiate standout appeared to get the better of the punching exchanges across the first three rounds.

Gracie badly hurt Storley in Round 4, but Storley managed to land a thumping right hook that dropped the Brazilian. Both men showed tremendous grit, fighting through dizziness and fatigue. Gracie relied on slicing elbow combinations in close. Storley repeatedly stopped his opponent's forward momentum with haymakers. The welterweight contenders were renewed in the final frame, closing out Bellator's first non-title, five-round main event with more action. Storley was awarded the unanimous decision by scores of 48-47, 50-45, and 49-46.

"I'm a fighter now. That proved it. Any doubt I've ever had about taking a punch, that laid it to rest," Storley told John McCarthy in the post-fight interview. "That was the most fun I've had competing in my life. I'll tell you that.

"I want to be the best in the world and I want that title next."

Storley (13-1) now eyes either a rematch against Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov or highlight-reel striker Michael "Venom" Page, depending on who emerges from Bellator London as the titleholder. The victory over Gracie earned Storley some much-needed momentum. Storley lost a narrow split decision to Amosov back in November 2020 and looked terribly flat in a split decision win over Bellator debutant Dante Schiro in August.

Gracie (11-3) has alternated wins and losses dating back to December 2018. The loss to Storley is the latest in a trend that includes setbacks against Jason Jackson and Rory MacDonald, and victories over Mark Lemminger, Jon Fitch and Ed Ruth.