Brian Rogers’ walk-off flying knee KO (Courtesy of YouTube/BellatorMMA)
Bellator kicked off its fourth 185-lb tournament last night and it was a pretty good night of scraps for those in the bludgeoning business. Despite a last minute cancellation of the scheduled Prindle-Santos rematch, the card marched bravely on. Eight middleweights squared off for a chance to advance to the semis and ultimately to challenge reigning champ Hector Lombard. It may not be the most popular tournament at the moment, but it’s ours, dammit, and here’s how it played out.
The opening bout in the eight-man scrum pitted Season 5 runner-up Vitor Vianna against Brian Rogers. Rogers came out as the early aggressor, firing off hard shots at a passive Vianna. Eager to get the fight to the ground, Vianna worked for the takedown, but his back only graced the canvas once for a few seconds following a hip-toss by Rogers. Back on the feet, “The Predator” stunned Vianna with a right hand that wobbled him back on his heels. Smelling blood, Rogers leapt in with flying knee for a textbook falling tree KO. “”That was my third flying knee knockout. Google it,” said Rogers in his post-fight interview. I would, boss, but I’m terrified of the internet. All nine of Rogers’ victories have come by first round stoppage. Not too shabby.
Giva Santana knew exactly what he wanted to do in his bout with Bruno Santos. So did the fans. And unfortunately for him, so did Santos. Santana, who owns more arms than Kali, worked dutifully to drag Santos to the mat, but “Carioca” wasn’t having it. He rolled out of two takedowns in a close first round and even pulled up on a slam in the second to avoid a ground battle with Santana. Santos continued to take out “The Arm Collector’s” base in the third with a series of leg kicks, and he defended well when they did hit the canvas. It wasn’t the evening’s most exciting bout, but the performance was enough to score Santos a unanimous decision and extend his record to a perfect 13-0.
Through the power of television, Bellator turned back the clock and showcased an undercard bout from earlier in the evening. The Trey Houston-Jeremiah Riggs must have been contested under “The Ultimate Fighter Live” rules, as both men swung for the fences and held nothing back for a potential second round. That go-for-the-kill pace left both men winded half-way through the opening frame. With his back against the cage, Houston exploded forward, driving Riggs across the cage and ending up in side-mount. After a scramble and more haymakers, Houston again scored the takedown. Mounted, Riggs flipped off the cage and reversed positions, but “That Just Happened” happened again with a beautiful armbar to end the fight. The 23-year-old Houston is now 9-0, with all wins coming via stoppage.
Vyacheslav Vasilvsky cut a path to the second round through Victor O’Donnell’s swollen face. Both men were aggressive in the first, with O’Donnell scoring two takedowns and working for mount. He tried to get the fight to the ground again in the second, but was stuffed on a takedown and stumbled backward by a short jab right on the button. From there, it was two rounds of survival. The Russian’s ground and pound had his opponent turtling up, and on the feet he continued to hurt O’Donnell with his accurate hands. O’Donnell showed great heart and proved too tough to put away, but he was out gunned in this battle. Vasilevsky scored the unanimous decision and picked up his fourteenth straight win.
In the main event of the evening, UFC exile Maiquel Falcao took on Norman Paraisy in a heated battle. Falcoa worked for takedowns early on, briefly securing mount and crowding the Frenchman against the fence through much of the first. At the end of the opening round, “Big Rig” hoisted Paraisy into the air, nearly securing a picture perfect “human torture rack” before losing control and dropping his opponent. As the bell sounded, Falcoa landed with a slightly late knee to the body, prompting a very late left hand from Paraisy. The two apologized, but shit was on. Falcao cranked it up a notch in the second, firing off leg kicks and finding a home for his flurries. The Brazilian dropped Paraisy twice in the second, but chose a bit of bravado and posturing over swarming in for the finish. Again, the round ended with some post-bell action from Falcao. The final frame was all “Big Rig”. Paraisy was hurt in the standup and found no sanctuary on the ground. Predictably, the fighting ended shortly after the final bell, but when the dust had settled a dominant Falcao got his hand raised.
The tournament’s four winners will advance to the semi-finals at Bellator 66. Rogers is slated to take on Santos while Vasilevsky will go to work against Falcao.
FULL RESULTS: (via AdCombat.com)
Norman Paraisy v Maiquel Falcao – Falcao by Unanimous Judges Decision R3
Vitor Vianna v Brian Rogers – Rogers by KO Flying Knee Strike 4:14 R1
Bruno Santos v Giva Santana – Santos by Unanimous Judges Decision R3
Victor O’Donnell v Vyacheslav Vasilevsky – Vasilevsky by Unanimous Judges Decision R3
Preliminary Card (Live on Spike.com):
Trey Houston v Jeremiah Riggs – Houston by Submission – Armbar, 3:30 R1
Eric Scallan v Derrick Krantz – Krantz by Submission – Choke, 3:01 R1
Jason Sampson v Jeremy Myers – Sampson by Submission Rear naked choke 2:25 R3