(Hector Lombard produces the fastest K.O. in Bellator history. What, you thought Jay Silva was going to shock the world? Props: YouTube.com/BellatorMMA.)
By DL “Potential Sociopath” Richardson
Say you live in Louisiana. Not the cool part where people party their asses off every day. I’m talking about inland, where you still get the humidity, but no one dresses up before Ash Wednesday, and you can never find a place to sell you a to-go alcoholic beverage. Say you live in Monroe. What do you do for fun? Well, you could go hang out at the Pecanland Mall and hit on that cute girl at Yummy Japan, but if you have any damn sense, you catch the Bellator Fighting Championships whenever they come into town. Last night, Bellator visited the Monroe Civic Center for the semifinal round of this season’s featherweight tournament, and as usual, they put on a show. Full results and recap after the jump…
Joe Warren vs. Georgi Karakhanyan
Georgi Karakhanyan had lived on three different continents by the time he was fifteen, and he learned Karate and Sambo at an early age from his father. He played professional soccer for a short time, so you know dude’s got a motor, but he went into MMA for more exciting competition. He won his quarterfinal bout with a knockout victory over Bao Quach, crumpling him with knees in the clinch at the end of round 1. Joe Warren is a decorated wrestler, noted for his debut performances in Dream’s Featherweight Grand Prix last year: he put away Chase Beebe in his first professional fight, then scored a decision win over Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. While he lost to eventual Grand Prix champ Bibiano Fenandes, Warren’s confidence has not suffered in the slightest. Warren says in his pre-fight interview that the only title he hasn’t won is Olympic Gold, which he will win at 2012. Karakhanyan, in his own interview, says that winning an MMA bout is better than sex.
The bout begins, and — surprise! —Warren immediately goes for a takedown. While Karakhanyan is primarily a striker, he quickly begins a sequence of submission attempts that keeps the action moving. Kneebar to heel hook, open guard to omoplata, back to guard, then a triangle/armbar attempt. Karakhanyan pushes to his feet, but Warren quickly takes him down again. Warren wants to grind this out, holding Georgi down and pounding on him, but his submission defense is surprisingly good. He shrugs off another triangle, and Karakhanyan throws some fists and a few heels to the kidney before the round ends.
Round two and Warren pushes Karakhanyan into the fence. This isn’t wall and stall, though; he’s throwing knees and working for underhooks. He wants to slam Karakhanyan again, and bad. They jockey for dominance, and Georgi goes for a guillotine. It’s deep, but Warren manages to get out of it. He works around to take Georgi’s back, and Karakhanyan initiates the kimura counter to break Joe’s grip and spin out. Instead, Warren lifts Karakhanyan and throws him, a thumping belly-to-back that gets the crowd going. Karakhanyan monkey-flips into guard, then snaps an armbar in place. Warren has to tap. He does not. He may not know about the option. He manages to pull his elbow out of danger, and goes back to work. Warren wants to work on top, staying in control, but Karakhanyan looks dangerous off his back. Warren crowds him against the fence, staying busy with knees and fists. The second ends and you know these guys are tired.
Third round, and they’re still going. Warren with a big slam, and Karakhanyan goes for an armbar. Warren rains down knees and knuckles, trying to wear Georgi out. They separate briefly, and Karakhanyan still has plenty of gas: he lands a nice flying knee that leaves a cut, but gets taken down for his trouble. This is the joy of featherweight: Even in round three, Warren is still throwing punches on the ground and working for subs, and Karakhanyan is still pushing to his feet, looking for an opening to slap on a submission. With 60 seconds left, Georgi jumps into another deep guillotine, with full guard. Warren is bleeding and possibly graying out, but He. Will. Not. Tap. He manages to slide out, and now the clock is ticking on Georgi. He pushes to his feet one last time and goes for broke, rushing Warren with punches and another flying knee. The bell rings. It’s over. Joe Warren defeats Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vs. Wilson Reis
Patricio Pitbull, as he is billed by Bellator, had a quick heel hook win to get to the semifinals. While he has seven submission victories (he’s 14-0 coming into this bout), he’s also noted for his stand-up style; Pitbull is known to wade in throwing hooks and knees like he’s got a hot date waiting. While Jimmy Smith mentions Pitbull’s time with Chute Boxe Academy early in his career, we see Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is in his corner. Wilson Reis is a five foot three ball of muscle with good wrestling and jits. He’s more of a grinder, with six of his ten wins coming via decision, four by some variety of choke. The only loss on his record is to last year’s winner and current BFC featherweight champ, Joe Soto. He out-wrestled wrestler Shad Lierley en route to a decision win in the quarterfinal, and he wants to get Patricio Pitbull to the ground ASAP.
Round one starts with a feeling out process. Pitbull is staying on the outside, looking to pick Reis off with right hands — looks like he studied tape of that Soto loss. Pitbull finally commits to a looping overhand right, and Reis quickly shoots underneath it, taking the fight to the mat. They’re pretty evenly matched: there’s some good action, but no damage and neither fighter is dominant. They trade sweeps and reversals, Pitbull stands and Reis drags him back down. The round ends, and it’s pretty much even.
Second frame starts, and again there’s a short stalemate on the feet. Reis closes, and tries to take it back down. Reis gets a good hold on one leg, so Pitbull throws some jumping knees with the other leg. Clinching and sprawling, the only damage in the round comes from a nice knee by Pitbull. Reis is cut, and while he doesn’t look hurt, he does look like he’s getting tired.
Third starts and they briefly switch roles. Reis is throwing more strikes, but Pitbull lands a nice belly to belly suplex. Pitbull stands and motions Reis up. Pitbull is obviously fresher now, striking more and landing some good ones. Reis shoots, and they go down, but Pitbull gets up and again motions to take it back to the feet. Reis just doesn’t want to match fists with Patricio Pitbull. He gets another takedown with a minute left, but he can’t work a submission and he can’t hold the Pitbull down. Time runs out, and all three judges give the nod to Pitbull. Patricio Freire defeats Wilson Reis via unanimous decision, and will meet Joe Warren in Bellator’s season 2 featherweight finals.
The SuperFight!!!!! (If You Can Still Call It That With a Straight Face!)
Lombard lays that fool out in six seconds. It starts with a right hook. Fuck you, Paulo Filho.
Charlie “The Superstar” Rader vs Christian Fulgium
We have some time left, so we’re treated to one of the local undercard fights. Rader and Fulgium are wrestlers who have known each other since high school, and are apparently two of the top guys in Louisiana. Christian Fulgium came into the fight eight pounds over welterweight (seriously?), so it’s a catchweight at 178. This is not a good way to make an impression, buddy.
Round one: they’re both good wrestlers, so they decide to swing at one another for a bit. Rader goes for the takedown at one minute in, and he’s in the driver’s seat from there. He drops forearms, elbows, and fists while working for position and staying on top. After a couple of minutes of working, he gets a good shot at Fulgium’s noggin from standing mount and lands a few good hooks. Fulgium takes a short nap, and wakes up all sad and not getting an invite to a future tournament. Charlie Rader defeats Christian Fulgium via KO, at 3:20 of Round 1.
All the guys on the undercard had their cars double-parked, apparently…
– Shawn Jordan def. Douglas Williams via TKO (punches), 0:19 of Round 1
– William Albrecht def. Jason Anderson via submission (armbar), 0:36 of Round 1
– Lamont Stafford def. Jules Bruchez via TKO (punches), 0:19 of Round 2
– Brock Kerry def. Mike Braswell via TKO (punches), 3:20 of Round 1