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Bellator 149 Was Every Bit the Glorious Disaster That We Expected It To Be


(Now all we need is a little music to set the mood…)

Last week, we expressed the less-than-popular opinion that the booking of Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 in the co-main event of Bellator 149 was perhaps the greatest matchmaking move in the promotion’s history. Our main argument was that, by booking such a clearly ridiculous, freakshow of a fight, Scott Coker was declaring once and for all that his promotion would not be attempting to compete with the UFC in terms of legitimate talent moving forward, but would instead be cashing in on the millennial driven, “so-bad-it’s-good” market that has begun to dominate the film and television industries in recent years.

With Slice vs. Dada now in the rearview mirror, we think it would be safe to say that we were right on the money.

How bad was Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000? Arguably one of the worst fights that the sport has ever seen, yet also on par for what you would expect from two near-40 year-old street fighters with limited MMA training. It was a fight wherein both competitors gassed out within the opening minute, yet valiantly continued (struggled) on for 13 more. It was a fight that appeared to take place underwater and was capped off by a hilarious non-finish that would’ve turned Ric Flair green with envy.

The reactions may have been scathing, but if there’s one thing that Slice vs. Dada did, it’s get us talking. Early indications are that Bellator 149 was a huge hit among its coveted demographics and the fight itself is still trending on Twitter. The numbers are in, and wouldn’t you know it, Bellator 149′s 2.5 million viewers makes it the second highest rated MMA fight on TV in the past 5 years. 

In its failure to entertain, Slice vs. Dada quickly became the most entertaining fight of the weekend for some of us, and you have to imagine that it was exactly what Scott Coker wanted when he booked it in the first place.

Of course, it didn’t come without a cost. Our gleeful takedown of the fight was soon followed by general concern for Dada 5000, who was carried out of the event on a stretcher and later rushed to critical condition due to renal failure. As it turns out, the 40 pounds that Dhafir Harris had dropped in the lead-up to the fight had taken its toll on his body, and he nearly lost his life as a result. It was a sobering turn of events, and one that has led to even greater backlash from the MMA community. While the finger rightfully has been pointed at Bellator for booking this fight, it could (and should) just as easily be pointed at the Texas athletic commission that allowed Harris to step into the cage after a 5-year absence when his body was clearly not ready for it.

At the end of the day, we highly doubt that Dada’s near-death experience will do anything to curb Bellator matchmaking moving forward. The promotion is shifting ever-further away from “legitimacy” in an attempt to give us guilty pleasure fights, and that’s exactly what it did last weekend. Regardless of how those fights turned out, you can bet your bottom dollar that the reputation of MMA’s second most popular promotion didn’t suffer in the slightest for it. I mean, what else could we have possibly expected? A high-level display of technical mixed martial arts? A slick submission? Outrage may be the fuel that powers the Internet, but it will ultimately be rendered meaningless as long as keep tuning in (and we will).

Of course, then came the evening’s main event, which pitted 49-year-old Ken Shamrock against 51-year-old Royce Gracie. Whereas Slice vs. Dada had at least the potential to end in crowd-pleasing fashion, this fight did not and played out accordingly.

What is there to even discuss, really? Gracie came out in the same flat-footed stance he’s been using since the early 90′s and Shamrock went down in the same mysteriously fishy fashion that he has in his last umpteen fights. Was Gracie’s fight-ending shot below the belt? Will Shamrock’s appeal see the light of day? Who gives a sh*t. We never needed Gracie vs. Shamrock III and we certainly don’t need a fourth go at it, so let’s just be thankful that this thing ended early and without either guy being carried out on a stretcher. In this latest incarnation of Bellator, that’s clearly a higher water mark than we’ll be able to set moving forward.

Main card
Royce Gracie def. Ken Shamrock via first-round TKO (2:22) (live blog)
Kimbo Slice def. Dada 5000 via third-round TKO (1:32) (live blog)
Derek Campos def. Melvin Guillard via second-round TKO (0:32)
Linton Vassell def. Emanuel Newton via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27 x2)
Emanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Pineda via split decision (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)

Undercard

Justin Wren def. Juan Torres via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jeremy Mahon def. Davis Sylvester via TKO (R3, 4:22)
C.J. Hancock def. Ruben Esparsa via submission (rear-naked choke) (R3, 1:26)
Adrian Yanez vs. Ryan Hollis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Isaac Villanueva def. Richard Knepp via knockout (R1, 0:42)
Mike Trinh def. Angel Zamora via submission (armbar) (R1, 3:49)
Jason Langellier def. Anthony Ivy via submission (anaconda choke) (R1, 2:09)
Manny Lozoya def. Jacob Norsworthy via submission (guillotine) (R1, 2:33)

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