Dominique Steele imposed his will on Chuck O'Neil.
A series of taxing clinches and tactical takedowns carried Steele to a unanimous decision over O’Neil, as he captured the CES MMA welterweight championship in the CES MMA 29 headliner on Friday at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. All three cageside judges scored it for Steele (13-5): 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
O’Neil (15-7) had his moments. He struck for takedowns of his own, achieved full mount on multiple occasions and spent extended periods of time on Steele’s back. However, his inability to corral the Team Vision representative on the canvas proved costly, and the submission O’Neil was hunting never materialized. Steele charted a slow and steady course to victory, punching his way into clinch range and trapping the defending champion along the fence.
Steele cut “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 graduate above the left eye with a clubbing right hand in the fourth round and picked up the pace in the fifth, where he staggered O’Neil with a perfectly timed spinning backfist, delivered another takedown and flurried with punches when openings presented themselves.
The loss snapped O’Neil’s four-fight winning streak.
In the featherweight co-main event, Bellator MMA veteran Matt Bessette knocked out Khama Worthy with a ringing right hook in the second round. Bessette (15-6) drew the curtain 2:42 into round two, as he won for the seventh time in nine appearances.
Worthy (7-4) held his own for much of the match, as he utilized a five-inch reach advantage. He countered effectively, threaded his jab and mixed in kicks to the body and legs. Bessette turned the tide with an overhand right and subsequent takedown, and he carried his newfound momentum into the second round. There, he rattled Worthy with a lunging right uppercut, drew him into a close-quarters exchange and planted the fight-ending right hook on the chin. “The Deathstar” fell to the mat in a slow collapse, Bessette hovering above him.
Meanwhile, Eric Spicely kept his perfect professional intact, as he took care of Harley Beekman with a first-round armbar in a featured matchup at 185 pounds. Beekman (7-3) tapped out 4:30 into round one, his three-fight winning streak at an end.
Spicely (7-0) executed his game plan to perfection. The 28-year-old Rhode Islander struck for two quick takedowns, moved to Beekman’s back and threatened with a rear-naked choke. Spicely ultimately bailed on the attempt, set a body triangle and went about softening his counterpart with short punches. Late in the round, he transitioned to the armbar, cut off Beekman’s escape route and landed the submission.
Elsewhere, Dinis Paiva posted his fourth straight win, as he submitted Chute Boxe-Team Link representative Bruno Marques with a first-round rear-naked choke in a bantamweight showcase. Marques (7-6-1) conceded defeat 4:07 into round one.
Paiva (7-5) put his special brand of savagery on display. The 27-year-old dropped Marques with a right uppercut inside the first 30 seconds and swarmed with punches and hammerfists. The Brazilian survived the initial onslaught but could only withstand Paiva’s advances for so long. “Sweetbread” executed three takedowns and kept the heat on Marques. He eventually advanced to the back, cinched the choke and forced the tapout.
In other action, Bellator alum Greg Rebello (18-6) put away Tyler King (9-3) with punches 3:10 into round three of their heavyweight duel; Nate Andrews (7-1) disposed of Jay Bakanowski (3-2) with a standing elbow strike and follow-up punches 2:50 into the first round of their lightweight pairing; Joe Pingitore (5-2-1) took a unanimous decision from James Grant Murrin (3-3) in their three-round tilt at 140 pounds, earning 30-27 marks on all three scorecards; Evan Parker (5-3) submitted Pete Rogers Jr. (2-2) with an arm-triangle choke 1:55 into the first round of their featherweight battle; Toby Oden (2-1) knocked out Wayne Ahlquist (1-2) with punches 2:35 into round one of their scrap at 170 pounds; Kody Nordby (4-3) tapped Jesse Gutierrez (1-1) with a rear-naked choke 4:03 into the first round of their 130-pound catchweight clash; and Ricardo Scalissi (3-2) submitted Devin Pilkington (0-3) with an arm-triangle choke 2:43 into round two of their encounter at 140 pounds.