(The Jose Vega vs. Jarrod Card knockout. Props: YouTube.com/BellatorMMA)
By DL “Low Blow” Richardson
Bellator XXII returned to the Kansas City Power and Light District last night, in the penultimate show of the second season. The welterweight tournament finals were the main event, but
“Boring” “Funky” Ben Askren was part of that matchup, so those nice folks at Bellator tried to put on a good ol’ fashioned, bread and circuses, action packed kind of card. Most of the fighters had an invite to one of next season’s tournaments — conditional upon their performance in KC, MO. What we got was one KTFO, one technical submission, one tap to strikes like a pussy, and…wait, wait, wait, let me start from the beginning. After the jump, allow me to thrill you with my account of the action. And maybe apologize for my can’t miss predictions…
Apologize? Psssh. Whatever. Here, put the house on Bryan Baker next week. There, we’re even.
Raphael Davis vs. Demetrius “Demolition Man” Richards
Light heavyweights start off the night for us. Raphael Davis is a Division I All-American, and an all-around more technical grappler. Demetrius Richards wrestled a bit in college at Nebraska, and played football in college and then in the Arena League. Wheelock and Smith point out that this is a matchup between a technically sound fighter, and a naturally gifted athlete. These guys look good coming out; can someone explain to me why Bellator has such a hard-on to start a heavyweight division?
Richards comes out with some good lateral movement, and he’s looking to cold cock Davis and call it a night. All it takes is a sloppy right hand, and Davis is under it, tackling Richards to the canvas. He immediately carries Richards to the fence, and starts peppering his ribs from guard. Richards tries to shove Davis off, but Davis just moves right into side control, then back mount. He puts his hooks in, flattens Richards out, and then it’s a blue light special on fists. Fists to the ear, fists to the neck, fists to the ribs, temple, and armpit. Richards isn’t in danger of going out, but he isn’t in danger of getting out, either. Davis is frustrated, he looks out into the crowd and raises his arms, as if to say, “Can you believe this guy? I guess he doesn’t like being hit in the face, huh?” The ref starts calling to Richards, improve your position, throw some ‘bows, start crying, do something. So Richards does. He pushes to his hands and knees — it doesn’t look like Davis is even trying to hold him down anymore — and crawls to the cage. Once he gets there, though, he’s out of ideas. Davis has a very definite idea of what he wants to do, and it involves fists. A couple of knees to the body, a little more pounding on the face, and Richards decides he’s had enough. He rolls onto his face one more time, and taps. Davis defeats Richards via submission (strikes) at 2:51 of round 1. Damn, son, for real? Davis doesn’t make it any easier on the Demolition Man in his post-fight interview. “I wanted to open up on him, you know, who taps due to strikes? No one does that, right? Come on!”
Jarrod Card vs. Jose Vega
Ok, so “The Wild Card” Jarrod Card is looking for a phone call to join the 135-pound tourney in August. All he’s got to do is put away this Vega kid. I don’t know him, but he’s from Jacksonville, NC (my neck of the woods) so I wish him well. Plus, he’s a single dad raising a son — how do you root against that? Vega is 5-3, nothing scary, and he’s a submission specialist, so Card will just keep this standing. Vega is a local — a jobber if there ever was one. No problem.
Well, funny thing. Vega lands a nice hard leg kick, and Card doesn’t like it. Vega comes forward with some body blows, and Card drops his hands. Vega fires a left hook right over Card’s right hand, and Card’s head does a quarter turn left, then snaps forward again. He’s out before he starts to fall. Card is dreaming about Bojangles’ biscuits and strippers, but Vega gets one more shot in before the ref tackles him. Vega defeats Card via KO (Punch) at 0:39 of round 1. Uhhh…Happy Father’s Day? Vega makes his case to enter the 135 tourney, and after that KO, it’s hard to argue with him.
“Funky” Ben Askren vs. Dan “The Handler” Hornbuckle
Well, this is it: the welterweight final for $100K, a shot at Lyman Good’s title, and no small amount of bragging rights. Ben Askren is the University of Missouri wrestling standout/disc golf enthusiast getting all the love in KC. He’s been cocky through the whole season, and the finals are no different. Askren says he expects to submit Hornbuckle in the first round, and he makes no secret of his game plan: He wants to take his opponent down and control him from the top. All his talk seems to have rubbed The Handler the wrong way. Hornbuckle says in his interview that while Askren has hundreds of people in the crowd backing him up, Hornbuckle himself has generations of the Cherokee nation to protect him during battle. After the referee’s instructions, the normally amiable and respectful Hornbuckle elects not to touch gloves. Uh oh.
The bell sounds, and they meet in the center of the Bellator circle. It takes all of eight seconds for Askren to shoot. He clutches at Hornbuckle’s hips, then slides down to his knees, and finally seizes an ankle as Hornbuckle backs away and tries to yank his foot free. He drops a few hammerfists, then tries again, but Askren is tenacious. When Hornbuckle yanks his foot, Askren stands and trips him in one fluid motion. Askren starts working his top game, knee on belly and trying to find a home for some elbows. Hornbuckle pushes Askren away, and Askren tries to bring a diving elbow in, and whiffs. Hornbuckle rises to his feet, but Askren is holding on to that ankle like it’s the last drumstick at the family reunion. Hornbuckle goes back down, but this time his hips are up by Askren’s shoulders, and he switches to submission mode. First he tries to get a leg across Askren’s face, isolate an arm so he can hyperextend the elbow. Askren adjusts, and Hornbuckle transitions to a kimura. Askren adjusts again, and now he’s got Hornbuckle’s back. He stays busy, throwing knees into Hornbuckle’s side and thighs. Hornbuckle rolls to guard, and does a good job blocking and slipping the punches that are flying at him. He pulls Askren down, and throws his legs up again for a straight armbar. Askren just rolls him over and he’s got back control again. Hornbuckle explodes to his feet, but Askren simply locks hands around Hornbuckle’s waist and pulls him to the mat again. He’s got Hornbuckle’s back again, and this time he goes for an arm triangle. Hornbuckle sees it coming, and gets his arm free, but he gives up full mount in the process. They exchange punches, and Hornbuckle bridges, bucking Askren off and gaining his feet again. He stands too close to Askren though, who shoots from sitting on the canvas and gets a single leg takedown. Hornbuckle tries for the armbar again, and as Askren pushes through it, Hornbuckle goes for a toehold. He’s got both hands occupied, though, so Askren leans down and pops him a good one before the bell sounds.
Round two, and Hornbuckle catches Askren in the shoulder with a left, the follow up right zooms over Askren’s head. Askren shoots again, and it’s back down. He moves from guard to mount, and Hornbuckle reverses him. Holding Askren down seems impossible. He just flows all around Hornbuckle, staying busy, keeping him off his base, and wearing him down. Three minutes in, Hornbuckle fires some upkicks at Askren, and Askren drops down to avoid them. He drops straight into a triangle, and the crowd and the announcers react, but he wasn’t deep and Hornbuckle can’t cinch it. Working his way out, Askren steps over Hornbuckle and applies an old school head scissor, then into side control. And then back control. Hornbuckle seems to be fading, and it’s easy to understand.
Third round begins, and Hornbuckle has to stop the bout to win. No one is scoring the first two rounds for him. He shows he’s still got some fight left in him, launching a high kick for Askren’s ribs. Askren skips back, lunges in for a jab, skips back, and then shoots. He’s making the takedowns look easy, and perhaps they are. Hornbuckle is comfortable working from his back, and as Askren tries to pass from guard to side control, Hornbuckle snatches a wrist in a kimura. He doesn’t have control of Askren’s body, though, so he can’t stop Askren from flipping to relieve the pressure on his shoulder. Hornbuckle winds up on top briefly, then back mount, but he slides forward and Askren slips out the back and gets top control again. This is the story of the fight. Askren doesn’t have the jits to end it, and he doesn’t have the power to put Hornbuckle away, but he can stifle everything that Hornbuckle does. Hornbuckle reverses, and Askren squirms, flows, and muscles his way back to a dominant position. As the clock winds down, they continue to fight, but there’s no need to wait for the judges. Askren defeats Hornbuckle via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Lisa Ward vs. Stephanie “Macaquinha” Frausto
Lisa Ward is 200 pounds of ass kicker smelted down to a five foot frame. She’s got a golden ticket for the dance at 115 already; Bellator is just showing her off. Ward walks to the cage with a black eye, and talks in her interview about her impending marriage to her trainer and business partner. She’s cheerful and animated and every guy in the crowd is in love with her for a minute. Stephanie Frausto is the little sister of 6-1 pro Zoila Frausto. She’s only had three fights so far, two wins by TKO in the first round, and one loss via submission, also in the first round. The commentators talk about how much Frausto hates being referred to as “the little sister of Zoila Frausto.” Whoops. Well, this is her chance to move out of big sis’s shadow, stake her own claim, blaze her own path.
The fighters come out and feel out the distance. They exchange leg kicks, and then punch combos. Ward rushes Frausto with hooks, and Frausto covers up and backpedals. Ward runs Frausto into the cage, and dumps her on the canvas. Frausto closes guard, but Ward knows what to do here. She softens up Macaquinha with a few hooks, and she’s in side control as soon as Frausto’s guard opens, then mounts. Ward throws a few punches down into Frausto’s face, and she rolls onto her belly, giving her back to a grappling ace. Ward sets her hooks in, but Frausto isn’t giving up. She attacks Ward’s thighs with elbows, hoping to get a hook loose and work her way out. As she pistons her elbows down, Ward has an RNC under her chin, whip-fast. But Frausto doesn’t give up. She just isn’t the tapping kind. So she passes the fuck out. Ward defeated Frausto via technical submission (rear naked choke) at 2:01 of round 1. Now that’s gangster.
Rudy “Bad News” Bears vs. Brian “Smokin’” Green
The last time Bellator came to town, local favorite Rudy Bears lost to Brent Weedman via TKO. But the kids love him, so Bellator invited him back for some undercard action. Brian Green is a 21-12 journeyman from Iowa that likes to submit people (15 sub wins).
Bell sounds to begin, and they come out and bump fists, then immediately start calculating angles and distances. Green is a bit shorter, and he wants to get inside and unload. Bears is stringing together some nice combos, putting punches and kicks together nicely. Green looks a little soft and slow for a 180 catchweight, and the announcers mention that he had a hard time cutting weight. They continue to circle, feinting, jabbing, and dodging. Green is looking for the homerun, and Bears wants a ten hit combo. Green tags Bears pretty good, and tries to follow up with a Thai clinch and knees. Bears catches Green cleanly with a left, and follows him to the canvas for the GnP finish. Give Green plus one for toughness; he’s covering up and looking for a way out. He rolls to hands and knees, trying to stand, but Bears take advantage of this opportunity. He applies the rear naked choke, sets his hooks in, and squeezes. Green has nowhere to go but out, but he taps first. Rudy Bears defeats Brian Green via submission (rear naked choke) in round one at 3:29.
Ok, this bout wasn’t televised, but I’m pretty sure I know what went on. Cole Konrad is the champion collegiate wrestler that looks like he snacks on KFC’s Double Downs and Buttered Doritos. “Big” John Orr is the biggest local boy they could find, and winner of 2008’s “Most Original Fighter Nickname” Contest. My money says they swung at each other a bit, then went and laid down for awhile. Fifteen minutes later, Konrad takes the decision because he was pitching most of the time. Was I close? Konrad defeated Orr via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Other undercard fun stuff:
– Jared Downing defeated Chad Vandenberg via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:35 of Round 3.