Lorenz Larkin squeaks out split decision in back-and-forth battle with Andrey Koreshkov

Lorenz Larkin suffered a first-round scare in front of his home crowd, but it wasn’t enough for him to go home with a loss.

“The Monsoon” battled back and defeated Andrey Koreshkov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in the main event of Bellator 229.

The two welterweight contenders put together a back-and-forth three-round affair to close out the main card in Temecula, Calif.

The first half of the first round saw Koreshkov win the position battle. With Larkin backed up against the cage, Koreshkov leaned his weight on his opponent and landed some short shots to the head.

Once the two broke, a brief spurt of chaos ensued.

Koreshkov tagged Larkin with a spinning wheel kick that sent Larkin to the mat. Koreshkov pursued quickly, and, despite his looping ground shots, Larkin recovered and got back to his feet.

“I had seen a flash, and I was just like — I don’t know what it was — but it was like, you better … you better get the F up,” Larkin said in his post-fight interview with John McCarthy.

With Larkin against the cage again, Koreshkov stayed close and picked his shots, trying to take advantage of his hurt opponent.

Larkin stopped Koreshkov’s approach with a stiff left hook that momentarily staggered Koreshkov. Having felt each other’s power, the rest of the round was relatively tentative.

Larkin’s time on the stool gave him a chance to recuperate with the help of his team.

“I got some of the best coaches in the game,” Larkin said. “And my coaches don’t lie. When I came back to the corner [after] the first round, my coaches were just straight up with me. They said, ‘We don’t think you got that round.’

“Fighters need stuff like that, and I had to snap into it, man.”

After the talk, he did just that.

The second round started similarly to the first, as it largely featured Koreshkov’s pressure against the cage. After roughly two minutes, the fighters returned to range, and it was Larkin who began pressing the action.

While Larkin’s offense came from his straight punches at range, Koreshkov attempted to find big, fight-ending shots, spending his energy on throwing his elbows and heavy overhand punches.

Then, Larkin found his shots at victory with a right hand that landed behind the ear and later a flying knee that connected before the end of the round. Koreshkov was rocked and sent to his back both times, similarly to the way Larkin had been cracked in round one. Yet once again, the ground and pound wasn’t enough to get the finish.

Koreshkov returned to his stool still not fully recovered.

The third and final round would be the decider.

Larkin, without a submission win to his name, tried to notch his first halfway through the round. He wrapped his arms around the neck and jumped guard for a guillotine choke but was unable to hang on.

Both fighters showed signs of fatigue after a high-paced fight through 12.5 minutes. Koreshkov took advantage with his wrestling, again pinning Larkin against the cage in an attempt to win the round off of positions alone. The Russian sealed round three with a takedown before the final bell rang.

Earning his third-straight win and the third of his Bellator career, Larkin called his shot after the bout.

“I gotta fight [Douglas] Lima,” Larkin said. “He gave me an L. I gotta get that back.”

The two previously fought when Lima held Bellator’s welterweight title. In Larkin’s promotional debut, he dropped a five-round unanimous decision to the champion at the time.

Lima is currently scheduled to rematch champion Rory MacDonald in the finale of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix on Oct. 26 at Bellator 232.

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