An artist’s rendering of what Askren’s ground and pound might look like (Photo: Sherdog.com)
I’m not going to say that this was the most boring Bellator card in recent memory, but I will tell you that my DVR got tired of recording it and gave up before the Welterweight title fight had even begun. One of the risks of live televised fights is that they’ll go over the allotted time frame, particularly during a decision-laden event like Bellator 64. For those fans who don’t appreciate the nuances of champion Ben Askren‘s suffocating ground game, having the evening’s finale blotted from your television may have been a blessing in disguise.
This season’s Bantamweight tournament kicked off with a quarterfinal pairing of undefeated twenty year old Rodrigo Lima and the seasoned Hiroshi Nakamura. Lima found himself on his back throughout the fight, but took no rest on the canvas as he tirelessly worked for every submission in the book. Nakamura—whose 87% win-by-decision record could compete with any of the UFC’s top grinders—kept all four limbs out of serious danger and stifled Lima’s ground game long enough to launch some ground and pound in the third frame. His takedowns and top control, coupled with a point awarded for absorbing a pair of unintentional knees to the nuts, were enough to bring home the unanimous 29-27 decision.
In other Bantamweight tourney action, underdog Travis Marx showed little fear in welcoming Masakatsu Ueda to the U-S-of-A. The Japanese fighter was the heavy favorite in his promotional debut, but not heavy enough to deal with the size and strength of his opponent. Marx ragdolled Ueda with a massive slam in the first round, but the former Shooto champ was unfazed by the throw and started working for a kimura on impact. Marx escaped and continued to use his wrestling and strength advantage to win the grappling exchanges and maintain control when jockeying for position on the ground. All three judges scored the fight for Marx 29-28.
Brazilians Marlon Sandro and Alexandre Bezerra squared off to see who would advance to the Featherweight tournament finals. Sandro was able to get off early and often in round one, finding a home for his hands and taking ‘Popo’s’ legs out from under him with kicks while Bezerra looked to counter with a big left that never came. The exchanges played out the same in round two with both men throwing but neither unloading on their opponent. Bezerra took over as the aggressor in the final frame, driving in on Sandro and suplexing him to the mat. After a bizarre standup by referee Yves Lavigne—which came as the two dueled for leglocks—Popo rocked his hero twice with heavy hands, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the two round deficit. Sandro took home the split decision victory and will move on to the finals.
The definition of love is knowing how the Ben Askren-Douglas Lima bout played out and still watching it for you bastards. Askren employed his grappling-heavy attack to take Lima’s stand-up out of the equation, and while the challenger was able to delay some of “Funky’s” takedowns he could not keep off of his back for any significant length of time. Askren’s ground and pound was more active than it was damaging, but he dominated Lima for all five rounds. Lima attempted sweeps and threatened with multiple armbars, but he could never seize control of the fight from from the champ. Both the 50-45 decision and the boos from the audience were unanimous. The win marks six straight victories via scorecard for Askren, a fitting end to the evening’s action.
Full Results: (via FightoftheNight.com)
Ben Askren def. Douglas Lima via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Marlon Sandro def. Alexandre Bezerra via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Travis Marx def. Masakatsu Ueda via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Hiroshi Nakamura def. Rodigo Lima via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Mike Richman def. Chris Horodecki via knockout (punches) at 1:23 of Round 1
Chad Laprise def. Josh Taveirne via submission (triangle choke) at 2:48 of Round 1
Kyle Prepolec def. Lance Snow via submission (arm-bar) at 2:54 of Round 1
Elias Theodorou def. Rich Lictawa via verbal submission (blindness) at 0:33 of Round 3
Nordine Taleb def. Matt Secor via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-24)
Taylor Solomon def. Jason Fischer via via technical submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:59 of Round 3