Bellator MMA lightweight Derek Campos scored a second-round TKO over Brandon Girtz in a thrilling trilogy matchup on Friday.
The fight, which headlined Bellator 181 inside WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, was called off after the second round due to a deep cut in the center of Girtz's forehead.
The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission stopped the fight after the second round, even though the injury occurred in the first.
Campos (19-6) opened the cut with a knee, but physicians didn't stop the fight at that time. Girtz's condition didn't appear to significantly worsen in the next frame, but the fight was still called off.
"All 'BS' aside, we just came in here and shed blood with each other because we're brothers," Campos said. "Respect that. Unfortunately, the cut is deep. [Referee John McCarthy] and the medical team, they're the professionals. It is a big cut."
The 158-pound catchweight fight was electric prior to the stoppage. After Campos hurt him with the knee in the first round, Girtz (14-7) responded with a bomb of a right hand that staggered Campos.
Girtz, of Minnesota, began loading up on left-hand haymakers in the second round. He staggered Campos again with a right hook and straight left, but Campos roared back with a right hand of his own, and the two played rock-em-sock-em robots with Girtz's back to the fence.
"It's a tough thing to lose like that," Girtz said. "I wanted to keep fighting. It was a brawl out there. This hurts. This hurts bad."
The two have now fought three times. Campos defeated Girtz in 2013 via unanimous decision. Girtz evened the score with a 37-second knockout in 2015.
Campos, of Texas, has now won four in a row. He was scheduled to face Patricky Freire on Friday, but Freire was rebooked to a fight against Benson Henderson.
"I put it on the line every time I fight," Campos said. "I made a statement tonight, showing my heart and how tough I am. I only want to fight the best guys. [Freire], Henderson winner -- I'm here all day, baby."