Injury considerably dimmed Bellator 112′s star power, with War Machine and Joe Riggs withdrawing from the season 10 welterweight tournament due to injury (as well as Mark Scanlon but he’s not as high profile). We received unheralded fighters Nathan Coy, Cristiano Souza, and Paul Bradley.
Still, the card’s main event featured a featherweight title rematch between champion Daniel Straus and challenger Pat Curran, making it worth the investment of time.
But was the rest of the card worthwhile? Read our main card recap and decide for yourself.
Maybe one day there will be a Bellator lightweight contender who’s talented enough to defeat champion Michael Chandler — but it ain’t gonna be the dinosaur guy. (No offense.) Season 8 lightweight tournament winner David Rickels had a good head of steam going into his title challenge against Chandler last night at Bellator 97, with four straight wins including a TKO of Saad Awad back in March. But against a truly world-class lightweight, the Caveman was in way over his head.
As you can see in the video above, Rickels didn’t even have a chance to get started. Chandler swarmed as soon as he staggered Rickels with a right straight, landing more follow-up power shots and diving after Rickels when the challenger hit the mat. In just 44 seconds, Rickels was unconscious and Michael Chandler (now 12-0 overall) had made his second title defense with another fearsome display of killer instinct.
Chandler’s next fight will likely come against Dave Jansen, the Season 7 lightweight tournament winner who hasn’t been able to face Chandler yet due to injury. Jansen is 6-0 in Bellator, and is clearly the most qualified man for the job. And yet, we can’t help but wonder how Chandler would stack up against some of the top 155′ers in the UFC — not like that would ever happen.
Speaking of dominant Bellator champions who could use a higher level of competition…
Just a heads up to you non Zuffa-zombies out there: Bellator 97′s preliminary card is already underway on Spike.com (“Come for the fights, stay to watch some drunk, gay club owner order his bartender to play Janet Jackson”). And at 7 p.m. EST, the Santa Ana Center in Albuquerque will play host to one hell of a free card to cap off Bellator’s Summer Series. Featuring two title fights in Ben Askren (LET ME FINISH) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (welterweight) and Michael Chandler vs. David Rickels (lightweight) as well as the heavyweight and light heavyweight tournament finals, Bellator 97 is all but guaranteed to deliver its usual blend of carnage and controversy. It is truly the Grand Theft Auto of MMA promotions.
Of course, the main spotlight will be on that of King Mo Lawal, who faces Jacob Noe in the aforementioned LHW finals. On the heels of a brutal, retirement-inducing KO of Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 95, Mo is only a couple wins away from become the first ever light heavyweight and tag team champion in MMA/professional wrestling history. The time of legitimacy and mainstream acceptance is truly upon us, nation.
This past Saturday, Bellator Fighting Championships came to Michigan for the first time in the promotion’s nearly four-year history with its 82nd event. It’s been said that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I’m not sure this was what CEO Bjorn Rebney had in mind, despite the obligatory smile on his face. Don’t get me wrong, the night could have gone worse — but it could have also went so much better. But I’m just a hack “journalist,” so what do I know?
I know demand for Bellator’s Michigan debut was low. Although the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort was pretty full for the main card fights, it was by no means a packed house. This just wasn’t one of those ‘standing room only’ functions, which probably explains why one of the more popular local watering holes* didn’t show Bellator that night.
When asked about the decision in the hours leading up to the fights, the response from one of the employees was an apathetic “Because we’re just not.” Not one of their dozen or so TVs would be allowed to show the second largest mixed martial arts promotion. Not one. I wonder how much of this could have been prevented with a proper main event — you know, the kind where the two guys set to throw down are ones you’ve heard of before or maybe even seen on the cover of a magazine.
I also know that all MMA events are improved with at least one matchup featuring two “Let me bang, bro!” type of guys. And while I thoroughly enjoy a great display of BJJ and wrestling, watching two highly skilled ground specialists do their thing, not everyone shares my opinion.
1.) His opponent, Kala Hose, is apparently a big fan of the Big Buford and/or Kimo Leopoldo, if his tattoos are any indication.
2.) He entered the fight with a 7-5 record (including a loss to Mayhem Miller and a win over Phil Baroni), hadn’t fought in two years and was riding a three fight losing streak.
3.) Things went exactly as you’d assume they would.
By the way, Ben and Jason were at Bellator 82 last night, so expect some updates from them as soon as they’re back. Video and results after the jump.
(More frightening than anything you’ll see this Halloween. Gif courtesy of Zombie Prophet.)
Although it was marginally overlooked in our weekend wrap-up of the event, you guys might have heard that Marius Zaromskis was nearly ground into a fine white powder by the fists of Andrey Koreshkov in their co-main event matchup at Bellator 78 this past weekend. Despite the fact that referee Jerry Poe was literally watching the action from the perfect angle, he apparently suffered a case of sudden onset blindness at the worst possible moment, allowing Koreshkov to reign down some 11 unanswered blows — which were each fight-ending power strikes in and of themselves — before calling a stop the fight. It made Josh Rosenthal’s stoppage of Chris Weidman vs. Mark Munoz look like Rick Fike’s stoppage of Aaron Riley vs. Shane Nelson 1. Word has it that even Steve Mazzagatti started screaming “Wake the fuck up ref!” at his television during the fight. Needless to say, people were pissed.
But we can rest assured for the time being, because Ohio Athletic Commission Executive Director Bernie Profato recently told BloodyElbow that the fight was “under review.” While we truly appreciate that notion on behalf of the fighters, we’re not exactly sure what potential punishments could arise from a review (although an attempted manslaughter charge for Poe seems appropriate) or how they could be carried out.
The problem is, we’ve seen these kinds of referee blunders go unpunished before — as will likely be the case in this instance — so it almost begs one to ask what exactly a referee has to do (or not do) in order to be held accountable for their decisions.
When I managed to speak to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney after Bellator 69 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he spoke very highly of welterweight prospect Andrey Koreshkov, who had just improved to 10-0 that evening. The twenty-two year old Russian fighter earned a spot in this season’s welterweight tournament, where he would quietly improve to 11-0 at Bellator 74 with a unanimous decision over Jordan Smith. At last night’s Bellator 78, Koreshkov looked to make a name for himself against Marius Zaromskis in the tournament semifinals.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the main event of the evening. Former Bellator welterweight champion Lyman Good took the next step towards earning the title back with a second round TKO over Michail Tsarev, although he arguably could not have picked up a more unimpressive victory. This isn’t to say that Good looked bad up until that point -he didn’t – but because the stoppage was, frankly, cheap. Good accidentally poked Tsarev in the eye in the middle of the second round, causing Tsarev to turn to the referee looking for time out. It looked like the referee was about to call for a break in the action, but Lyman Good pounced on “The Lonely Wolf.” The TKO victory was awarded to Good shortly afterwards.
Video of the main event, as well as Koreshkov’s victory, is after the jump
Pride Fighting Championships. International Fight League. Affliction. M-1 Global. As each rival organization has been gobbled up or at least driven from American shores, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has inched closer to ensuring that in this land, “MMA” means “UFC.” The only thing standing between them and total North American domination is Bellator Fighting Championships. Bellator currently airs fights on MTV2 and in 2013 will shift to Spike TV, the cable network where the UFC dwelled before leaving for plush new Fox Network accommodations. With the UFC going through some growing pains — witness the cancellation of UFC 151 and UFC President Dana White calling his most promising star’s trainer a “sport killer” — it seems a perfect time to check in on the competition.
My girlfriend Maggie and I attended Bellator 74 at Caesars in Atlantic City. In general, Bellator treads a less-glamorous path than their rival, with upcoming events at Hammond, Indiana; Windsor, Ontario; Reading, Pennsylvania; Dayton, Ohio; and Rama, Ontario, while the UFC journeys to Minneapolis, Seattle, and Montreal and leaves the continent entirely for Rio de Janeiro and Macau. Atlantic City is common ground for both promotions, with Bellator holding multiple events there yearly and the UFC having returned in June after a seven-year absence. (Incidentally, with the rise of gambling in neighboring states causing local gaming revenue to plummet from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion in 2011, A.C. needs every MMA event possible.)
Growing up in Nevada and New Jersey, I attended a good number of casino fights. (It was a deeply wholesome childhood, filled with apple picking, fireflies, and demanding that the cocktail waitress bring me a Long Island iced tea while the dice were still hot.) The fights were divided into two categories: mega-bouts and ballroom events. Bellator 74 was a ballroom event, meaning a ring was assembled in the middle of a ballroom, chairs were put around the ring, and there you are.
I managed to catch up with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney after Bellator 69 at the L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday night. Bjorn touched on issues such as fighters who stuck out on the undercard, why the Asplund vs. Sparks fight didn’t happen, MMA in New York and much more. Come inside after the jump for the full interview, as well as fight videos from the fighters that Bjorn Rebney mentions.