Lisa Ward went the distance against Aisling Daly yesterday in Kansas City during a three-round test of strength, coming out with a unanimous decision victory against her opponent in the quarterfinals of the Bellator Season 3 Women’s World Championship Tournament.
The first round began with both ladies coming out swinging from their respective corners, ending up in a classic wrestling match. Ward took Daly to the ground, fully controlling the fight while Daly did her best to shrimp her way out of it. Though Ward did a magnificent job of staying on top of Daly, Daly managed to keep her in half guard. Ward landed some blows to the torso on Daly, and eventually Daly rolled on to her back to escape punishment. Some heavy blows to Daly’s body from Ward were delivered while keeping her neutralized with the left knee. Ward took the advantageous position to stand and deliver some shots to the head, but ended up back on the mat to throw some ground and pound. Daly continued to attempt bucking off Ward from the half guard position. Ward kept her weight on top of Daly, occasionally peppering her torso with shots from either her hands or her knees. Daly displayed excellent defense by constantly shrimping out. The round ended with Ward delivering a few solid strikes to the head of Daly.
Daly charged at Ward from the start of round two, driving Ward into the cage. Ward again seized an opening to take down Daly with a head and arm throw. Ward kept a pretty tight hold around Daly’s head post-takedown, but Daly was eventually able to work her way back up to her feet. Ward delivered a couple of knees to the stomach of Daly, driving her towards the cage. Both ladies exchanged some knee strikes from the clinch. Ward delivered a sharp knee that momentarily broke them apart, erupting into a short flurry of fists. Ward and Daly returned to the clinch, Daly getting in an elbow to the jaw of Ward with Ward returning a few knees. Ward went for another head and arm throw attempt, but Daly popped out and the ladies went back to standing and throwing. Ward eventually took Daly back down to the ground. Ward delivered a couple blows to the head from that position, once again getting caught in the half guard of Daly. Daly worked her way towards a top position with a guillotine held on her by Ward from the bottom. Daly slid her head out of the choke. At this point Ward was bleeding slightly from the top of her head. Ward eventually broke free of Daly’s dominant position, though not without a small explosion of strikes from Daly. The ladies landed in a north-south position. From here, Daly got in a few hits to the hips. Ward used this position to attempt choking Daly out with both a head scissor and an inverted triangle. Daly remained an escape artist, popping her head out and achieving side control. The round closed with a quick escape by Ward that exploded into fists on Daly. Daly took Ward back down to the mat as the bell rang.
Round three started off, once again, with both ladies swinging. Ward went for a clinch, and landed a solid knee to the bread basket. Ward quickly took the fight back down to the ground, ending up back in Daly’s half guard. Ward continued to stay dominant. Daly was equally skilled on the ground, constantly exhibiting excellent defense against her opponent. Ward tried to post up, Daly shrimped out. Ward delivered a couple soft shots to the torso and ended up back in half guard. Ward worked hard to free her right leg, controlling Daly’s arms with her body weight. Daly rolled out and ended up on her knees, giving up her back. Ward set herself up for a rear naked choke, but Daly turtled up. Ward managed to stay tight, but high, on Daly’s back, constantly looking to sink in a good choke despite Daly’s best efforts to avoid it. Daly attempted to get back on her feet but the high position of Ward prevented her from doing so, and both ladies rolled back down to the ground, Ward landing a perfect position to re-attempt the rear naked choke. Both ladies are visibly tired at this point, but keep going full throttle. Daly managed to roll her way out of it again, though not without Ward successfully delivering a few solid shots to the head. The grappling war continues with Ward in Daly’s half guard. Daly opened up her back and Ward sunk her hooks in, looking for yet another rear naked choke attempt. Daly tried to power her way back up to her feet in the last ten seconds of the final round, with Ward landing several hammerfists across Daly’s midsection.
When things were said and done, all judges scored unanimously in the fight, with 30-27 in favor of Lisa Ward. With this victory, Lisa officially secures her place in the semi-final round of the Bellator Women’s 115-pound tournament alongside the ranks of Jessica Aguilar, Zoila Frausto, and a potential match-up that is highly anticipated amongst both fans and fighters alike – Megumi Fujii.
At the post-fight press conference, both fighters were nothing short of humble and happy. Aisling Daly expressed nothing but gratitude towards Bellator for the opportunity to fight, and hopes that they’ll have her back again soon. She also praised Ward for being a “fanastic athlete,” and congratulated her on her recent marriage. When asked about what she learned coming out of the fight, among general concerns about weight cutting and conditioning, Daly also spoke of her passion for the sport: “I know that this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.”
When Lisa Ward spoke, she opened up with praise for her opponent. “Aisling brought it tonight. I just went out there and I wanted to fight, and I wanted to show the world that I’m not just a wrestler. I have stand-up, I’m well-rounded, and I’m a complete mixed martial artist.” Lisa also answered questions about the possibility of a re-match with Megumi Fujii, whom she suffered a loss against in 2007. “Megumi is a phenomenal athlete, and I can’t wait to fight her again. I’m going to train ten times harder than I did for this fight. I’m just going to bring what I have, and the best will come out on top.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was unable to confirm whether or not a rematch between Ward and Fujii would happen at Bellator 29.