(Rex’s "first draft," courtesy of jimbonics. Click for larger version.)
by CagePotato.com contributor DL "ReX13" Richardson
Middleweight just hasn’t been home to many exciting fights lately. Whether it’s the result of a grinding style that never goes for the finish, or simply because a fighter is apparently out of his goddamn mind, there’s been a noticeable lack of offense at 185. Bellator hoped to bring the sexy back last night, as they visited the Power & Light District in Kansas City, Missouri, for the quarterfinals of this year’s middleweight tournament. The winner of the Season Two tourney receives a title shot against current champ Hector “Shango” Lombard, who faces off with Paulo Filho in a non-title scrap on May 13th. Full Bellator XVI event recap and results are after the jump…
Luke Zachrich vs. Eric Schambari
You may remember Luke Zachrich from the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Or not — he lost his first-round fight against Daniel Cramer, then promptly disappeared from this planet. Eric Schambari went 2-1 for the WEC before being sidelined by
the Canadian healthcare system a near fatal drug allergy. The announcement team advances the opinion that Zachrich will want to keep this standing, which is promising, and Schambari has a world-class mean mug in the pre-fight clip, which is also promising. Schambari has legit ground skills, but his striking in the first few moments of the bout is a bit stiff. He shoots to get the match where he wants it, and now it’s an active, back-and-forth ground engagement. They trade sub attempts: Zachrich’s guillotine for Schambari’s arm triangle, then scramble, sweep, rinse, repeat. Schambari winds up on top in Zachrich’s half guard, and tries to secure side control while working for another arm triangle. As he shifts his weight, he hears a gurgle and realizes he has a modified arm triangle in half guard. Schambari bear hugs it, and Zachrich taps, 3:34 of Round 1. I learn something new from Bellator: that crazy sub that just made Luke Zachrich go all bug-eyed is called a Von Flue shoulder choke. Again, Schambari was still in Zachrich’s half-guard when he finished it, which basically just tells you he’s a diesel mofo.
Matt Major vs. Alexander Shlemenko
Major is introduced as “an aspiring fashion designer,” which is fairly interesting. Unfortunately, homey has designed his own shorts for this bout, and they are fruitier than my morning smoothie. The man is wearing effing black GSP-manties with pink and purple dots and black fringe in the back. I swear this is truth. Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko, on the other hand, is a Russian striker who disdains the ground game, saying he hates to win by submission. (And here I thought that in Mother Russia, Sambo trains you.) Shlemenko proceeds to spin-kick, -elbow, and -backfist his way through three rounds of fairly entertaining striking, during which Major does little but bleed all over the damn place. By the time Shlemenko takes the unanimous decision, Major looks like his face caught on fire and Slemenko put it out with a nice sharp brick. Apparently, Major managed to bleed on one of the ringside announcers. Good luck designing blouses, girlfriend.
Sean Loeffler vs. Bryan Baker
Interesting pre-fight clips here: Baker is a dedicated athlete, a black belt in Judo, and has lost once in his pro career to some cat named Chael Sonnen. Sean Loeffler, on the other hand, has a dead coach. Great story, bro. You kinda feel sorry for him, because he’s just lost his trainer and friend, and also because it looks like a mismatch. And it is: the first minute has Loeffler showing off some boxing (heavy on feints and light on damage) before Baker takes him down with a slick inside leg trip. By the end of the second minute, Baker has established side control. Loeffler tries to work a kneebar when Baker goes knee-on-belly, but a stiff punch from “The Beast” cuts that nonsense short. Baker decides to just stand up and punch from there, and quickly pounds Loeffler enough to concern the ref. Baker via TKO (referee stoppage), 2:43 of Round 1.
Jared Hess vs. Ryan McGivern
Some good pedigrees in this one: Jared “The Test” Hess was a finalist in Bellator’s Season One middleweight tournament, losing to current champ Hector Lombard, and Ryan “The Irish Nightmare” McGivern is a former middleweight champ from the now-defunct IFL. Both fighters were collegiate wrestlers, but McGivern also boasts a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and he has Pat Miletich in his corner. Hess is considered a favorite to go to the finals, and he demonstrates his wrestling to the crowd. To his credit, McGivern has incredible defense from his back, including possibly the best work out of butterfly guard I’ve ever seen; he even manages to work some fairly effective punches from butterfly. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough — Hess is all over him, and maintains dominant positions for the majority of the first round, including a crucifix position just before the bell. The second is more of the same, until McGivern leaves his neck sticking out just a bit too much while going for a takedown. Hess whips a standing guillotine around McGivern’s throat, and jumps into guard to finish a very game opponent. Hess taps “The Irish Nightmare” at 1:54 of Round 2.
Expect Schambari and Baker to be matched up for the semis. Schambari’s only pro defeat was to “The Beast” at WEC 31, a split-decision loss that Schambari is eager to avenge. He asked for the rematch during his post-fight interview, and Bjorn Rebney is willing to oblige fighters when there’s a storyline in place. During his own post-fight chat, Baker said that he’d beaten Schambari before, and he’d do it again. Set your DVR, son, ‘cause these boys are going to throw down.
That leaves Jared Hess and Alexander Shlemenko lined up, and I’m going to give the nod to Hess. “The Test” showed great heart and endurance in his loss to Lombard last year, and he’ll have no problem taking “Storm” to the ground. Those spinning back kicks are flashy, and they hurt like a bitch, but Shlemenko’s striking got a little sloppy, and Hess will capitalize on the first mistake.
From the undercard:
– Eric Marriott submitted Demi Deeds in the battle of power versus technique. Fighting at a catchweight of 160, the natural featherweight Marriott was outgunned by Deeds in the strength department. After both fighters attempted a laundry list of subs, (including Deeds comically attempting some sort of leg lock, then realizing he had no freaking clue what he was doing), Marriott finally worked a triangle from mount, rolled to his back and cinched it for the win at 3:02 of the 2nd round.
– Danny Tims beats Brian Davidson in a bantamweight war that got the local crowd hyped early. Davidson had Tims rocked hard in the first; but Tims managed to hold on to eventually secure a unanimous decision.
– Drew Dober defeated Nick Nolte (no, not that one) via
epic asswhupping arm triangle, after softening him up with strikes for the majority of the round. Nolte tapped at 4:45 in Round 1.
– Brent “Headshop” Weedman and Rudy “Da” Bears put on a show for the crowd, albeit a short one. Weedman took it by TKO at 4:19 of the first via ground and pound.