Bellator 233: Wary of potential 10-8, John Salter made sure to squeak by in third for win

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – While taking plenty of punishment in the third round Friday night, John Salter had a revelation.

The middleweight figured he almost certainly was on his way to losing the round 10-8 to Costello van Steenis, and if that happened, he’d be walking away from Bellator 233 with a kiss-your-sister draw.

So Salter (17-4 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) managed to land one final takedown against van Steenis (12-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) to make sure the judges wouldn’t score the frame a 10-8 against him. A 10-9 loss in the round is all he thought he needed to get a win.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do – I hope his hands hurt,” Salter told MMA Junkie after his unanimous decision win – 29-28 on all three cards – in the Bellator 233 main event at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. “I made a major mistake – I put too much into a (rear-naked) choke in the second, and came up and I just didn’t have any pop. He was coming after me in the third. … I knew he was hitting me with everything he’s got, and I’m not going down. It’s a matter of, do I just take shots for five minutes and take a beating, or do I get a chance and get on top? I finally found my opportunity and just had to seal the deal there.”

Salter’s win was his second straight after a submission loss to Rafael Lovato Jr. a little more than a year ago. Lovato went on to win the middleweight title in his next fight, and Salter is hoping to get back to a fight with him – which would be for the 185-pound belt.

He’s not sure his win over van Steenis will be good enough to make him next, though.

“I’d love to fight for that title,” Salter said. “I can be honest – (Gegard) Mousasi is a guy who’s proven himself time and time again. He’s right there. So I understand that might be the next (title) fight. Whatever the case, I’ve just got to get back, let my face heal up a little bit, get back in the gym, let’s get another fight, and let’s get moving and stay in the top of the division.”

Salter went to the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his entire career. His first 20 fights all were finishes, including 16 that saw him in the win column.

To hear more from Salter, check out the video above.

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