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Bryan Baker Puts a Ring On It at Bellator 43, Continues to Make the Rest of Us Look Bad

“No word yet on who startled the witch in the crowd.” (VidProps: Bellator)

Bellator action returned to Newkirk, Oklahoma, last night, and Byran Baker continued his campaign to steal the hearts and minds of pretty much everyone.  The welterweight final was the main event for the evening, matching up Olympic judoka Rick Hawn and Jay “The Brooklyn-Born Thoroughbred Long Islander” Hieron (still nothing on Horwich).  A bantamweight season five qualifier featuring Chase Beebe and Jose Vega was also on the menu, which illustrates the depth that Bellator is developing at 135.  Follow us in past the jump for spoilers, and before we forget – your mom said for you to call her.

Ron ”The Monster” Sparks and Vince Lucero fought one another in what was billed as a “heavyweight feature fight”, meaning Bellator’s not ready to hand out a tournament berth to the winner quite yet, even though they assume it will be Sparks.  More well-known for being mentioned as an opponent for crossover athletes starting out in MMA (even though those fights wind up not happening), Sparks is nonetheless a giant man (6’5″, 255) with an undefeated record.  Lucero is a veteran of forty fights against competition you’ve heard of, but you’ve never heard his name before, and you’ll probably forget it in a half hour.  After the announcers practically guaran-damn-tee a knockout, the fight goes to the ground quickly, where Ron “Now He’ll Ground and Pound” Sparks twists up an Americana. Sparks defeats Vince Luceno via submission at 2:58 of the first round — not a bad showing, but we’ll wait to see more of Sparks against some better competition before we start getting excited about another heavyweight tournament.

On deck for the televised broadcast, Chase “The Rage” Beebe and Jose Vega faced off for a slot in next season’s 135 pound tournament.   Beebe started his pro career with a string of impressive victories that earned him the WEC bantamweight strap, which he then turned over to Miguel Torres and started a troubling five-fight skid.  (In fairness, the decision loss to Mike Easton was a bonafide robbery, so there’s that.)  Vega was impressive in season three, scoring a highlight reel knockout over Jerrod Card and making his way to the semifinals before losing to eventual finalist Ed West.  In another quick match, Beebe methodically tried out a few guillotines before he found one in Vega’s size, and sunk it in at the end of the first round.  Chase Beebe defeats Jose Vega via submission at 4:06 of the first round, putting another good win on his record. Next season’s 135 tourney is going to be some good fights, y’all.

Since we have a couple of  short fights, we get a chance to see some undercard action with Richard Bouphanouvong (rhymes with “Mo’ Fun-a-thon”) vs. David “The Caveman” Rickels.  After Rickels stuns Bouphanouvong early on, he spends the remainder of the round on his back defending himself from grinding ground and pound.  Rickels works his legs up for a triangle choke, but he’s unable to sink it in the first.  The second round starts similarly, with Bouphanouvong shooting for a takedown after catching some sharp strikes from Rickels.  The Caveman throws his legs up again, and envelopes his opponent’s head in a triangle.  The tap comes soon after.  David Rickels defeats Richard Bouphanouvong via submission (triangle choke) at 1:11 of the second round.

Bryan “The Beast” Baker and Joe “Diesel” Riggs were next, looking to perhaps score an invite to the next middleweight tournament.  Riggs changes weight classes more than Scarlett Johansson changes hair colors, and with almost fifty fights under his belt, Diesel is showing some wear.  Coming off a TKO loss to Jordan Mein, Riggs is ready to put a stamp on somebody.

Bryan Baker was diagnosed with leukemia just over a year ago, just days before his first tournament fight for Bellator.  Baker soldiered on, continuing to train even as he underwent cancer treatments.  He performed so well that we had him as a heavy favorite to win the finals against Alexander Shlemenko, even going so far as to suggest you bet the house on a Baker victory.  (If anyone did lose their home because of our advice, we’d like to point out that, you know, dude had leukemia.  If we’d known that, it may have influenced our picks.  Just sayin’.)

Riggs and Baker took their time with the feeling out process, even receiving some boos for their first round dance-off.  Baker slowly finds his distance, and uses knees as his primary weapon.  Riggs opens his defenses up a bit in the second, trying to answer Baker with knees of his own, but he comes up second in a exchange of punches, and goes down hard.  Baker stands over Riggs and seems ready to fire another hook when the ref waves it off, but Riggs is done.  Bryan Baker defeats Joe Riggs via KO at 3:53 of round two, and his girlfriend is in the stands screaming like a banshee.  Baker calls her into the ring and asks her to marry him, and all the girls in the crowd sigh at once.  Awwwwww.  It’s like a Nicholas Sparks book, except backwards.

The main event was the welterweight final, for the giant check and the date with Bellator’s reigning 170 pound Champion of Funk.  Rick Hawn fought through Jim Wallhead and Lyman Good to make it here, and says that he’s in better shape than the Thoroughbred, turning the vet’s cage experience against him, at least in Hawn’s mind.

Jay Hieron surprised no one by making it to the finals, making his way through Anthony Lapsley and Brent Weedman, but he’s got to deal with Hawn’s brutally strong clinch game to close the deal.

It’s a close three rounder, and it would be worth watching the fight to make up your own mind.  Hawn kept the pressure on Hieron for the full fifteen minutes, moving continually forward and biulding momentum throughout the fight. Hieron was evasive and counterpunched effectively, but seemed to be tired and in full retreat by the third round.  The judges were divided as to who did more to whom, awarding Jay Heiron a split decision victory over Rick Hawn (29-28 x2, 28-29 x1).  Naturally, Hawn will be back to judo slam the piss out of some poor guy enroute to a return to the tournament format, while Hieron will get his Publisher’s Clearing House check  and a shot at the sweestest whiteboy ‘fro in MMA.

In other undercard action, Michael Osborn made quick work of Mike Schatz, earning a TKO victory due to strikes at 1:58 of the first round, and it was the only fight to not make the broadcast.  Seems like they could have shoehorned a two minute fight in there somehow…

Now seriously, go call your mom.  Tell her we said “thanks”.


Cagepotato Comments

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Dan The Viking- May 12, 2011 at 7:11 am
Easy, drano. I know juggalos stick together but Karma is, in fact, a bitch.
IHateMatBurn- May 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm
Damn, I hadn't heard he got leukemia. What a shitty hand to be dealt. I trained with him a couple times in socal, he was a nice guy and a helpful instructor.
Jesus Frijoles- May 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm
I would do Baker's mom....hardddd
Jesus Frijoles- May 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Hawn got robbed, he was clearly dominant in the third and was cathcing heiron with wicked counters in the second. He dumped him on the ground once. What the fuck......
Misfit29er- May 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm
I'd be one of those girls going Awwwwwwwww....haha. It was cute! Nice job Baker! :)
Morningwood- May 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm
now drano don't be so sensative... it's just a little funny comment which is both personable and endearing to CP's own Karma.
dranokills- May 9, 2011 at 11:41 am
Morningwood Says:

Mon, 05/09/11 - 06:53

to sum up Karma’s thought. “Maybe she gave him 127 bucks for a bus to the show!”
are you saying we are all engaged to karma now?
I resent that remark sir, and I take Umbridge to that.

ahem! dan the viking: EAT 2 BAGS OF DICKS YOU FAGGOT ASS BITCH!
EDoggFunkMonk- May 9, 2011 at 10:03 am
Bellator's push of Baker is making me sick. Can't tell if he is a legit fighter or if they are giving him a Kimbo like push. resurrecting old UFC fighters who can exchange their names for a payday (Shamrock next!!!)... The wedding proposal made me vomit in my mouth a little. Too "made for TV."
dim mak- May 9, 2011 at 9:04 am
Heiron's a joke--it was his second straight undeserved decision. rick hawn was screwed. the judges shouldn't reward chicken shit running away from a fight--can't turn that into chicken salad. terrible judging.
Dan The Viking- May 9, 2011 at 8:01 am
take a hike already
heres a super long link to show how I feel about you.,r:0,s:93&tx=105&ty=42
Uppercut Magnet- May 9, 2011 at 7:15 am
Smitty- May 9, 2011 at 7:00 am
@ rngeorgeh
You are sooooo right sir. I noticed she wasn't wearing a ring too. I'd like to marry her in a double ceremony. Naw fuck that, she'd mouth off, and I'd say some really mean shit to her, and then "The Beast" would beat the shit outta me.

@ Morningwood
I saw what you did there, and I must say I liked it.
Morningwood- May 9, 2011 at 6:53 am
to sum up Karma's thought. "Maybe she gave him 127 bucks for a bus to the show!"
MMAINMYBLOOD- May 9, 2011 at 5:50 am
Oh no Im being totally sincere here .. I dont know anyone of my friends or acquaintances that are happily married... this guy better have her sign a prenup .. if not just be prepared to either a) lose half of his money if me makes it big, or b) live miserably the rest of his life knowing there is nothing he can do about it .. unless he wants to get her in the ring....
RearNakedSpoon- May 9, 2011 at 5:14 am
Brilliant bit of viral advertisement for Bellator.
Pen Fifteen- May 9, 2011 at 4:58 am

Ever think that people aren't actually being 100% sincere, but just having fun indulging in the cliche of ripping on a guy who is about to get married?
MentalyptiC- May 9, 2011 at 4:47 am
HAHAHAHAH SUCKER! Hope he's smart enough to get her to sign a prenup
dranokills- May 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm
aigggghhht now... 50 points for the left for dead reference.
blah on the marriage proposal. who cares.
KarmaAteMyCat- May 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm
I have to disagree. Perhaps that girlfriend now fiancée of his helped him chase his dream and stood by his side when everyone else told him he couldn't. Ever think about that? Perhaps she's one of the few supportive good ones out there. I sure hope so because that dudes got a future.
RPS13- May 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm
left 4 dead reference you guys are so hip and fresh!
Coneblazer- May 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm
Sun, 05/08/11 - 06:51

Ive been Married 11 years.. that shit he just did right there makes me sick .. he just fucked himself in the ass. and threw away all his money .."

LOL F'd himself in the A and made a public spectacle of it.. won the fight then made himself a bitch
MMAINMYBLOOD- May 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Ive been Married 11 years.. that shit he just did right there makes me sick .. he just fucked himself in the ass. and threw away all his money ..
rngeorgeh- May 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm
Baker's mom is fine. Just sayin'.