Wow, people. If you didn’t see some crazy good fights last night, we’re sorry you don’t have Showtime. MTV2 and Bellator were in Oklahoma last night, and some fights totally happened, you guys. (It’s still ok to use “you guys” in the body of the article, right Ariel?) Semifinal bouts at 170 and 155 were on the menu for the evening, as well as a Ben Askren Superfight and an extra-large boxing matchup for shits and giggles. There were amazing displays of heart, awful tattoos, and unorthodox wrestling, if you dig that kind of thing; if you are burnt out after MFC, FCF, and that cute little Strikeforce organization, come on in and we’ll give you the low down of who did what to whom. Also, we’ll share what freaking BLEW OUR MINDS last night.
Dana White rocking the Strikeforce shirt? Mind=BLOWN.
Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard (11-0) vs Michael Chandler (6-0)
Perhaps one of the most gratifying viewing experiences that Bellator has to offer is watching fighters rise from the regional scene without fanfare to make their marks on the Bellator tourney format. Case in point: Lloyd Woodard, repping Missoula, Montana with humor, humility, and what is usually the manliest mustache you’ve seen that week. Woodard flew in under everybody’s radar before putting a knuckle stamp on Carey Vanier and throwing down his “Rocky” impression–we actually laughed and clapped for him at home for that one. Woodard says that his undefeated young opponent “doesn’t know how to lose ’cause he hasn’t been taught.”
He’s referring to the young prospect Michael Chandler, a member of BFC’s collegiate wrestler invasion notable for not just winning decisions. Chandler has been impressive thus far, particularly in his submission win over Marcin Held, the Polish grappling ace that *almost* tapped out before Chandler choked him unconcious. That’s a wrestler anyone can cheer for, right?
Good fight: these guys are well matched and active. Chandler shows off some some high amplitude slams in the first round, and he stays busy on the ground, but Woodard minimizes the GnP and manages to work back to his feet. The argument could be made for a 10-10 round, but since those don’t exist we assume 10-9 Chandler.
Second round goes to Woodard, who scores a bit more in the standup game before getting taken down again. Woodard uses a kimura to flip Chandler and manages to lock onto Chandler’s back in the ensuing scramble. Woodard uses a waist cinch to drive Chandler back to the canvas, and gains full back mount with a bit less than a minute left in the round. Cupcake is working for a rear naked choke, and it looks for a moment that he might have it, but he can’t get under Chandler’s chin, so he abandons the choke and scores with a few good punches as the bell sounds. 10-9 Woodard.
Third round will determine the winner. Both guys have been fighting hard, and the action is a bit slower. Chandler keeps throwing hands, while looking for a takedown. Chandler gets it, Woodard works up to his feet, and Chandler slams him down again. The ref stands them up after a bit, but it’s right back down again with Chandler on top. We love this Woodard guy, but it’s hard to beat a dude at his own game. Chandler secures a full mount that will ice the round for him. 10-9 Chandler in the third. Michael Chandler defeats Lloyd Woodard via unanimous decision (29-28 x3), and he’s ready to slam a Pitbull Brother in the finals. We hate to see Woodard go, but we expect to see him back in qualifier action soon.
Josh “The Hammer” Burns (6-1) vs “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (6-1)
We’re pretty sure we’ve seen Josh Burns somewhere before, but we’re just not sure where. The we hear that he trains at Hammer House with Mark Coleman, and we have to wonder: did he train there because of his nickname, or does Coleman assign “Hammer” to everybody? Interesting note: Bellator’s Tale of the Tape puts both guys at 6-1, yet Sherdog lists Burns with three losses. Wha? Burns is one of those rare heavyweights under six feet tall, which doesn’t seem that bad until his opponent comes out…
Eric Prindle is what my grandpa would have called “a goldurn giant”. He’s 6’5″, he’s got a seven inches of reach and probably twenty pounds on Burns, and he’s a 5 time US Army boxing champ. Damn, why does Bellator matchmaker Sam Caplan hate Josh Burns?
Now, here’s some painful truth about Bellator: their heavyweight roster is god-awful. It’s like watching the Kimbo Slice season of TUF, except without all the excitement. Burns and Prindle are reportedly bro-dogs, hanging out before the fights and agreeing that winner buys beers, which is respectable and refreshing and fuck me running it’s a crappy fight. It turns out that having a huge frame and lots of boxing experience gives one a significant advantage over a shorter, pudgier boxer, and Prindle puts all kinds of dings and dents on The Hammer’s face. He also manages to kick his new BFF in the junk to start rounds one and two, which he’s very apologetic for, and the dude cries when the ring doc waives the fight between the second and third. Burns was probably ok to continue, but it’s doubtful he would have done anything but paint the canvas red, so whatevs. Prindle kisses Burns on the head a few times before they make the official announcement that Eric Prindle defeats Josh Burns via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00 of round two. A heavyweight tournament entrant in season 5? Probably, but nobody is doing the happy dance for that.
Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron (20-4) vs Brent “Stargazer*” Weedman (19-5-1)
Standing in stark contrast to the heavyweight division, welterweight has been a Bellator crown jewel since the first season, and it’s only gotten better. Signing the criminally-underpromoted Jay Hieron to the 170 pound lineup was just another brilliant move for the organization. The Thoroughbred is riding an eight-fight streak after choking Anthony Lapsley to sleep a few of weeks back, and the Brooklyn-born Long Islander is looking every bit the tourney favorite coming into this bout.
Brent Weedman has now won four straight for Bellator, including an upset decision win over Dan Hornbuckle in the quarterfinals. Weedman is surprisingly cerebral and funny, and we weren’t a totally professional and impartial journalistic outfit, we’d cop to being fans of the guy. Quick note: Weedman just received his BJJ brown belt from Helio Soneca. Congrats, yo!
If you DVR’d Bellator, this is the fight to watch. First round is noted for Hieron’s D’Arce attempts, including one that looks completely locked in just before Weedman escapes. Weedman spends a lot of time on his back, but he’s no pushover, landing a nice upkick. Round two is spent on the feet, with Weedman moving aggressively forward. Hieron springs off the cage for a Superman punch, and he lands a few good counter punches, but he doesn’t discourage Weedman, who continues to move forward and launch a lot of fists, knees, and kicks. There’s not a great deal of damage in the second, but not for lack of trying.
Round three starts, and Weedman continues to walk in on Hieron and letting his arms and legs fly. Hieron continues to counterpunch while moving backwards, and wobbles Weedman with a left hook halfway in. Weedman recovers and kicks Hieron’s leg out from under him, following him down to the ground and looking to secure a back mount. Hieron avoids that, but Weedman adjusts and takes full mount. Weedman is really high up with the mount, and looks like he tries for a triangle from that position before Hieron escapes. Hieron tries to punch from Weedman’s guard; Weedman looks to escape to the feet. Bell sounds, the fight is over. We want another round to make up our minds, but the judges do not. Jay Hieron defeats Brent Weedman via unanimous decision (29-28 x3) and advances to the welterweight finals against Rick Hawn. Tough loss for Weedman, since many will see the fight his way based on his aggression in rounds two and three. We suggest you watch and decide for yourself, so you’ll know what to expect from Weedman when you see him next time, because you will, for sure.
“Funky” Ben Askren (7-0) vs Nick “The Goat” Thompson(38-13-1)
Someone asked us a couple of weeks back why we weren’t doing live play by play of Bellator events. To answer that question with a question, we’d like to ask if any of you have watched Ben Askren fight? This fool moves like a cracked-out worm on hot asphalt, and you want a step by step breakdown of everything he does in a fight? Ninja, please, one Ben Askren fight raises a writer’s risk of carpel tunnel syndrome by roughly 52%. If we ever DO decide on a live blog, we’ll describe rounds in very vague, blanket terms, like “Askren sure stayed on top a lot,” and “Man, Ben Askren is clingier than an alien facehugger.” Don’t get us wrong, the Bellator welterweight champ is impressive and our pick for the best pure wrestler in MMA, we’d just rather not be in charge of his play by play.
His opponent tonight is journeyman Nick “The Goat” Thompson, who never shed the whole nickname he earned by being knockout-prone during his early days of training. Somebody started comparing him to those hilarious fainting goats, and the guy has carried that sobriquet through fights in the UFC, Bodog, Elite XC, MFC, and Sengoku. Jimmy Smith and Sean Wheelock hype Thompson by mentioning his win over Eddie Alvarez, but they don’t mention his TKO loss to Dan Hornbuckle, the guy that Askren beat in the tournament finals last year.
So round one starts, and Askren starts with a capoiera handspring kick to superman punch that knocks Thompson silly, and finishes him with an Ezekiel choke. LOL we’re kidding. He actually does start with a spinning back fist that whiffs so bad the ref chuckles. After that, it’s down to the mat. Askren rides Thompson like he’s auditioning for a slot on the PRB circuit (two consecutive weeks with rodeo references? Yeah, it’s a talent), and it would take a better man than the Goat to get out from under The Funky One. Askren threatens with a few submission attempts, but he doesn’t go after any of them full-on. Thompson somehow manages to get on top of Askren in the final ten seconds of the fifteen minute fight, but there’s never any doubt of the outcome of this bout. Ben Askren defeats Nick Thompson via unanimous recognition of dominance (30-27 x2, 30-26), and he can go ahead and start planning for his next disc golf trip while everyone else in the universe drills wrestling. Askren, man, you’re a bad mamma-jamma…will you pretty please start submitting guys? It’s hard out here for a pimp trying to tell people how good you are.
On the undercard….
Tyler Stinson defeats Nate James via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29) at 5:00 of Round 3.
Michael Osborn defeats Cody Carrillo via TKO (Referee’s Stoppage due to strikes) at 1:27 of Round 1, and why didn’t we see this fight????
David Rickles defeats Dylan Smith via submission (triangle choke) at 3:32 of Round 1.