If you watch carefully, you can see his Soul flashing a peace sign when it flies out. (VidProps: Bellator)
If you listened to this week’s edition of the Bum Rush (you did, right?), you know that some of us were really looking forward to Bellator action this weekend, and some of us were unconvinced. But when guys are pulling off stupid-rare submissions and handing out beatdowns on the weekly, we say those naysayers are just stupid neenerfaces. You go ahead and contemplate how much time we’re spending with preschool kids while you click the “Read More” link below, then share your comments about just how awesome Bellator is. Hyperbole and ridiculous analogies will win you style points, and haterific comments will probably inspire ReX13 to bestow an insulting website upon your login. That asshole is just way too sensitive sometimes.
Ben “Killa B” Saunders (9-3-2) vs Matt Sung Lee (13-9-1)
Ben Saunders makes his Bellator debut at a 175 pound catchweight against some guy you’ve never heard of, a move that normally signals a mismatch created to showcase a fighter that the promotion wants to build up. In Bellator, however, anything can happen, and tends to do so on a regular basis, so this could totally be one of those BFC special upsets.
His opponent is South Korean Matt Sung Lee, a journeyman who turns 40 in July and lost his own Bellator debut in undercard action against Ryan Quinn. On second thought, maybe this is one of those showcase mismatches…
….And it is. Lee is tougher than a woodpecker’s lips, but he presents very little offensive capability for Saunders to worry about. Killa B lights Lee up with combinations and lands more knees to the body than any human person should be able to absorb. Seriously, Alistair Overeem watched this fight and nodded his giant skull in approval. Saunders uses the Thai clinch effectively, and Matt Lee apparently flexes every torso muscle he has ever had to minimize the damage. Unfortunately, Saunders also launches an all-out assault on Lee’s facial place, and he draws blood before the end of the first round. It’s pretty much twelve minutes of Saunders brutalizing Lee’s torso and head, and drawing more and more blood as the fight goes on. The ringside physician almost stops the fight after the second round, but Lee’s corner convinces the doc to let it go on, apparently hoping to cash in on a life insurance policy they bought just before the fight. Lee’s a hard customer, and he answers the bell for the third with more cuts than a music video (see what we did there?). It takes Saunders just about a minute to open up a cut over Lee’s left eye to match the one already over his right, and the ref and ring doc hurry to call it before Eli Roth shows up to start filming. Ben Saunders defeats Matt Sung Lee vis TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 1:24 of the third round, and guess who’s coming to the next welterweight tournament?
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (8-1) vs Toby Imada (29-15)
Toby Imada doesn’t have an official nickname, but we like to think of him as the embodiment of the organization, much like Akira Shoji was for Pride. Imada has been to the tournament finals twice before, and he sunk the first inverted flying triangle that helped win Bellator accolades in its first season. Well-rounded and aggressive, Imada is a dangerous test for anyone.
Across from Mr Bellator is Patricky Pitbull, the young lion that flattened Razor Rob McCullough with a hook in the third round to move into the semis. Much like Imada, Freire defends himself by attacking, whether he’s on his feet or his back. Side note: Patricky’s little bro Patricio also scored a knockout in the third round of his quarterfinal, putting Georgi Karakhanyan away just a little bit faster than Patricky. Sibling rivalry?
Well…maybe. Big brother Pitbull may not talk much about wanting a KO, but holy shit his actions are loud. After a few standup exchanges, Freire launches a text book Tiger Knee at the precise moment that Imada tries to duck under some other attack that isn’t coming. Imada is blasted stiff, standing up purely because his muscles are still tense. Imada’s Intellect and his Immortal Soul are knocked somewhere into the third row, where they have time to grab a beer and ignore the rest of the fight. Mr Bellator probably would have fallen down on his own, but Patricky has a little brother to one up, so he leaps in with three hooks. The third one, a left, blasts Imada, at which point his body realizes that everyone else has already left the building and clocks out. Patricky Pitbull defeats Toby Imada via KTFO (flying knee and punches) at 2:53 of Round 1. Imada is out cold, and is stretchered out as a safety precaution, but we are happy to report that he can still form sentences and tie his shoes. Poor guy landed another highlight reel finish, just on the wrong end. We look forward to seeing him again in the future, and we’re stoked to see Freire in the finals.
Lyman “Cyborg” Good (11-1) vs Rick Hawn (10-0)
Lyman Good was the first BFC welterweight champ, until he lost it all after twenty five minutes spent trying to remove Ben Askren from his person. It was a tough loss, but Good insists that the loss was helpful, in that he rededicated himself to training and shed some of the pressure that goes with being undefeated. Make no mistake, Good is gunning for a rematch with The Funky One.
Standing in his way is 34 year old Rick Hawn, who has now won ten straight, including a decision win over Jimmy Wallhead in the quarterfinals. Hawn has the kind of upper body strength associated with childhoods spent chained to the Wheel of Pain (careful Googling that with SafeSearch off, BTW), and a world class Judo base. Trying to take down a Rick Hawn is like trying to power punch a Lyoto Machida or an Anderson Silva–it’s probably not going to work, and he’s entirely capable of hurting you when you try. It’s the Gentle Art, you dig?
This one goes the distance, and it’s a bit of an odd bird. The first round is mostly stand up with a bit of defensive clinch work from Hawn, who was unable to take Good off his feet. We thought Good also got off better with strikes, particularly with a knee in the clinch. 10-9 round Good.
Round two goes immediately to the ground, as Hawn scores with a trip and spends the rest of the ground in Good’s mostly closed guard. Hawn is content to throw punches from there, and scores with a few stiff cracks. Good is content to hang out in guard, we guess. Hawn’s on top the whole time, so we assume judges go 10-9 Hawn.
Round three goes back to mostly kickboxing, and again we thought Good got the better of it, landing more clean shots and resisting a Hawn takedown attempt. Hawn does score with a takedown in the last minute of the fight, but Good feeds him some upkick for his trouble. It’s a close round, we can see it either way, but we say 10-9 Good.
And the judges have it: 29-28 Good (Jeff Blatnick), 29-28 Hawn (Cardo Urso), and 30-27 Hawn (Bryan Minor). We don’t have a problem with the decision per se, but a 30-27 score does feel kinda outrageous. At any rate, Rick Hawn defeats Lyman Good via split decision and advances to the 170 pound finals.
Some people snicker if you bring up Eddie Alvarez as a top lightweight in the world. We would like to invite those people to watch his run through the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix in 2008 and get back to us. Some dock Alvarez points for a quick heel hook loss to Shinya Aoki, but we’d like to remind those assholes that Anderson Silva is consistently in P4P lists, so eat a dick. Plus, like his training partner Frankie Edgar, Alvarez can be be hurt, but actually putting him away with strikes is a whole ‘nother thing.
Fighting him is the tournament champion/officially-recognized challenger Pat Curran, the guy who had the Cinderella run through the season two tournament. Now healed up from an unfortunately-timed shoulder injury, Curran says he’s hit the weights real hard and he’s ready to rumble. Maybe, but this is Eddie Fucking Alvarez, right?
Well, Alvarez doesn’t tool Curran like he did Roger Huerta, but he wins all five rounds convincingly enough for Bryan Minor to get it right. Alvarez looks like a boxing strawweight flitting in and out, slipping, bobbing, weaving, possibly also inventing new techniques of evasion as yet unnamed. He sticks Curran with dash jabs early on, and adds solid hooks and uppercuts as Curran tires. He landing noticeably less leg kicks then he did against Huerta, which led directly to the stoppage victory, but everything else he does works. To Curran’s credit, he absorbs his heaping helping of punishment while trying to mount his own offense, but as Alvarez racks up combos on his ribs, he can do little but survive. He does manage to fight his way out of Alvarez’s takedowns, avoiding the champ’s penchant for chokes, and scores a takedown himself in the final minute of the fight, but it’s a drop in the bucket after a deluge of Alvarez fist. Eddie Alvarez defeats Pat Curran via unanimous decision (50-45 x2, 49-46), and the champion is highly complimentary off his young challenger. If we were a cynical bunch of assholes, we might say that you sort of have to say that about an unheralded guy that you were expected to dust in the first couple of rounds. However, we love Eddie Alvarez, so how about that guy, huh?
Dan Cramer defeats Greg Rebello via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Ryan Quinn defeated Mike Winters via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26).
Dave Jansen defeated Scott McAfee via submission (D’arce choke) at 4:58 of round 1.
Rene Nazare defeated Luiz Azeredo via TKO (Injury) at 5:00 of round 1. (Azreado is believed to have a broken an arm blocking a kick.)
John McLaughlin defeated Blair Tugman via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).