By Elias Cepeda
When heavyweight Ryan Martinez (8-2) hit Manny Lara (4-2) twice in the groin over the course of their three round Bellator 75 prelim bout Friday night in Hammond, IN one could only assume that he secured the low blow highlights for the night. Then Eric Prindle came along in the night’s main event and stole Martinez’ nut shot thunder.
If there was a low blow of the night bonus award…what am I saying? If there was a low blow of the decade award, Eric Prindle’s axe kick to the family jewels of a downed Thiago Santos would be the clear front runner.
After a failed jumping guillotine choke left Santos on his back with seconds left in the first round of their Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal bout, Prindle (7-3) began kicking him with round houses to the legs. Then the massive Prindle thought to get all GSP with it and loaded up with a stomping axe kick, likely aimed for Santos’ mid section.
Instead, the full force of a 265 pounder’s stomp came down onto the groin of a prone Santos. The Brazilian was given five minutes to recover.
He could have been given thirty. It would likely not have made a difference. Santos laid flat on his face without moving, not even able to writhe in agony, before being lifted onto a stretcher and taken out of the cage.
Santos (11-1) won by DQ and advanced to the semi finals of the tournament in a month, if he’s even able to fight at that point. At the post event press conference Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was not sure if he would be able to and said that if Santos is unable to continue, Martinez would replace him in the tournament.
The ending was disappointing for everyone and was also ironic because Prindle and Santos had fought before, a year ago, and that fight also ended with a low blow. That time Santos hit Prindle low and when Prindle was unable to continue the fight was ruled a no contest.
For some reason Prindle’s coach Erik Paulson was given a chance to ask a question of his fighter at the post presser as if he represented a media outlet. No doubt genuine, the still necessarily partisan Paulson gave his charge a softball and leading question about the supposed unfairness of him getting disqualified for the low blow when the last time he was hit low, the fight was just ruled a no contest.
For his part, Prindle was apologetic and said that it wasn’t his call to make. This writer, for one, thinks that the next Prindle/Santos fight needs to either take place with them both wearing medieval chastity belts or be fought under Junkyard Rules.
During his post fight interview and while speaking at the post presser twenty three year-old Alexander Volkov (17-3) looked shy and overwhelmed by the stage and moment. In his fight with Brett Rogers (12-5), however, the young Russian looked masterful in winning a unanimous decision and advancing to the Heavyweight Tournament semis.
Volkov bullied Rogers around the ring with punches, kicks and knees from the start and by the second round had the convicted wife beater shirking from the fight and merely backing up or running away. Rogers had held his own for a round with Fedor Emelianenko and knocked out former world champion Andrei Arlovski but was completely out classed by Volkov’s sharp striking.
Volkov had already beaten a former UFC world champ himself when he beat Ricco Rodriguez earlier this year. The win over Rogers was the Russian’s first fight in the states and it was a successful coming out party.
If he wants to continue impressing on U.S. soil, he’ll have to take out Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz (6-2), who also impressed Friday night. Queiroz was dropped fast and hard early by Mark Holata (12-4).
Somehow the Brazilian was able to recover on the ground and submitted Holata with an arm bar from the full guard, advancing to the semis. The drama of Queiroz’ come back win highlights one of the dangers of Bellator’s tournament format.
Queiroz is a warrior and should be celebrated for having the conditioning and heart to continue and pull out a win, but there is no way he should be physically cleared to fight in less than a month as he’ll have to be in order to continue in the Bellator tournament. The ‘Spartan’ didn’t just get knocked down, he went totally rigid after getting hit and slowly fell like a chopped redwood.
His head hitting the ground woke Quieroz up and, though he was able to win, he later said that he couldn’t remember how he had ended up on the ground. The man is clearly concussed and shouldn’t be jumping right into another training camp and fighting again in less than four weeks.
I love the spirit of Bellator’s tournament structure but one has to wonder if its schedule is too demanding and dangerous for fighters at times.
Richard Hale (20-4) didn’t look like he’ll have problems maintaining his strength up in the heavyweight division as he quickly took out UFC vet Mike Wessel (12-5). Former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe (21-8-1) and Bo Harris (7-3) had a hard-fought and intense bout. Beebe came away with the unanimous decision on the strength of his wrestling and pressure on the feet.
Full Bellator 75 results below via MMA Junkie:
Thiago Santos def. Eric Prindle via disqualification (groin kick) – Round 1, 4:54
Alexander Volkov def. Brett Rogers via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Richard Hale def. Mike Wessel via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:19
Vinicius Queiroz def. Mark Holata via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:26
Jason Graves def. Rafal Skibinski via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:50
Cliff Wright def. Bobby Reardanz via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:39
Ryan Martinez def. Manny Lara via majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Chase Beebe def. Bo Harris via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Joe Williams def. Rod Montoya via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:17
Anthony Gomez vs. Jose Medina via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:32