ATLANTIC CITY - As soon as Pat Curran saw an opening, he pounced Thursday night.
The Bellator featherweight champion solidified his status as one of the world's best in his mixed martial arts weight class with a first-round submission over top contender Shahbulat Shamhalaev at Revel's Ovation Hall.
Curran (19-4), from Crystal Lake, Ill., took Shamhalaev to the canvas and locked up a guillotine against the native of the Russian Republic of Dagestan. Curran, who is ranked second in the world by Sherdog.com behind UFC champ Jose Aldo, rendered him unconscious, forcing referee Keith Peterson to stop the fight at two minutes, 38 seconds of the first round.
"It feels great," Curran said. "I just wanted to get in and get out and move onto the next one."
Curran's next one will be against likely be against Frodo Khasbulaev (21-5), also a native of Dagestan.
Khasbulaev won the $100,000 Bellator featherweight tournament earlier Thursday with a three-round, unanimous decision over Mike Richman (15-3), of Rosemount, Minn. Richman is a former U.S. Marine who served in the Iraq War.
In another featured bout, Doug Marshall (18-6), of Visalia, Calif., won the Bellator middleweight tournament title and the $100,000 prize with a stunning, first-round knockout over Brett Cooper (19-8), of Long Beach, Calif.
As a result, Marshall gets a shot against Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemeko (47-7).
Marshall's straight right slammed into Cooper's bearded jaw and sent him to the canvas. Marshall jumped on him and landed another right before referee Bill Bookwalter could jump in and stop it at 3 minutes, 39 seconds of the round.
"If I catch you with the right hand, you're going to sleep," Marshall said. "I was trying to knock his beard off. Maybe next time."
While doctors attended to Marshall before escorting him to the dressing room, Marshall stood over him and struck a menacing pose. Some of the fans cheered while others booed.
"For all you haters, keep hating because you're fueling me," Marshall said.
Former U.S. Olympian (judo) Rick Hawn (15-2), of Dracut, Mass., opened the TV portion of the card with a second-round knockout over Karo Parisyan (22-10), of Northridge, Calif. in a welterweight fight.
Hawn stunned Parisyan with a straight right, then put him on the canvas with a series of punches that prompted referee Gasper Oliver to stop it at 1 minute, 55 seconds. Hawn announced afterward that he will go back to lightweight (155 pounds).
On the undercard, New York welterweight Lyman Good (15-3) earned a three-round, unanimous decision over Hamilton's Dante Rivera (15-7). Sam Oropeza (8-2), of Briarcliffe, Pa., had to be helped out of the octagon with an ankle injury, but still posted a second-round TKO over Rahway's Shedrick Goodridge (3-5) at a catchweight fight of 173 pounds.
Forked River's Tom DeBlass (9-2) scored a second-round TKO over New York's Carlos Brooks (4-3) in a 188-pound bout. New York lightweight Phillipe Nover (8-5-1) gained a three-round, unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Darrell Horcher (7-1) of Shermansdale, Pa.
Elmwood Park 140-pounder Jimmie Rivera (12-1) won a three-round, unanimous decision over Brian Kelleher (8-4), of Seldon, N.Y. Philadelphia featherweight Will Martinez (5-3-1) registered a first-round knockout over Brent Hess (3-2), of Alexandria, Va.
Bricktown featherweight Kevin Roddy (13-14-1) used an arm bar to earn a second-round submission over Brylan Van Artsdalen (7-6) of Palmyra. Belmar light-heavyweight Liam McGeary (4-0) opened the card with a first-round TKO over Anton Talamantes (5-4), of Fort Wayne, Ind.
PUNCHLINES: Bellator will return to Revel in November. The exact date will be announced later. ... Oliver is an Atlantic City native and former wrestler for Atlantic City High School. ... MMA returns to Atlantic City on Friday night when Ring of Combat returns to Tropicana Casino Resort with a 12-fight event.