The first leg of tonight’s #FridayNightWars MMA double-header kicks off with the Bellator 123: Curran vs. Pitbull 2 main card, live from Uncasville, CT, at 8 p.m. ET on Spike. We’re saving up our liveblog energy for UFC Fight Night 50 later this evening, but follow us after the jump for quick results from the Bellator card, as well as GIFs of all relevant knockouts and submissions. As always, follow us on twitter at @cagepotatomma for live commentary and ball-busting.
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…
As has become the standard for a Bellator event, last night’s Bellator 94 was packed to the brim with exciting stoppages, grueling decisions, and a fair share of controversy thrown in for good measure.
The main card kicked off with a Season 9 bantamweight tournament qualifier bout between Rodrigo Lima and Ronnie Mann, the latter of which was making his bantamweight debut. As noted by the Bellator broadcast team, the characteristic speed that led Mann to the featherweight tourney semifinals in Season 6 was all but negated against Lima, who outgunned, outgrappled, and plain outworked Mann in every aspect of the fight en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The evening’s next bout was also a season 9 qualifier, this time at welterweight, and pitted Trey “That Just Happened?” Houston (Seriously, that’s his nickname. Do we have a Worst Nickname category for this year’s Potato Awards? Because I think we have found yet another front-runner.) against Luis Melo. In what turned out to be a rather entertaining affair, Houston attempted to turn things into a brawl while Melo opted to take things to the ground as often as possible. After getting rocked and nearly submitted in the second round, Melo was able to turn the tides on a fading Houston in the third and secured an arm-triangle finish just over a minute into the round.
(Michael Page vs. Ryan Sanders — strong front-runner for Phantom Punch of 2013. Props: videosei.)
Despite losing some of its star power due toinjuries, last night’s Bellator 93 event in Lewiston, Maine, turned out to be a mostly-satisfying affair, with eight of the ten scheduled matches ending within the first-round, and three ending within the first 20 seconds. But two unfortunate moments cast a shadow on the event.
First off, Michael Page‘s hotly-anticipated Bellator debut ended with a 10-second KO victory over Ryan Sanders, as the flashy British striker caught Sanders with a straight right as his victim was charging in…or so it seemed. Upon closer inspection, there was something a little fishy about the stoppage. Watch the replays in the video above, and you’ll see that Page either barely touched Sanders, or didn’t touch him at all. At any rate, the strike didn’t seem to justify the reaction of Sanders, who immediately flopped to the mat, clutching his head in agony. He was back on his feet moments later, looking somewhat disappointed. We’re not going to accuse Bellator of some vast conspiracy; it’s more likely that Sanders simply didn’t want to be there. And unfortunately, he may have robbed us of the opportunity to see Page produce another classic no-walk-off knockout.
Speaking of let-downs, the guaranteed barnburner between Marcus Davis vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf ended in a no-contest in the first round, after Davis nailed Spiritwolf with a knee to the groin; Spiritwolf couldn’t continue after the foul. (Sound familiar?) Though the Lewiston crowd chanted “Bullshit!” and booed Spiritwolf in an apparent indictment of his bitchassness, there was nothing fake about that low-blow. Check out the GIF below, via BloodyElbow…
Although Mark Hunt’s comeback run in the UFC has been nothing short of inspirational, there’s been a similarly grizzled veteran quietly putting together an improbable run for a title in the Bellator realm of the world (I believed it’s pronounced “The Midwest”) as well. We’re talking, of course, about former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall, who all but fell off the face of the earth after being knocked out by then undefeated killing machine Brian Stann at WEC 33. Since then, however, Marshall has put together a respectable 9-3 record, including a pair of devastating performances in his first two Bellator appearances. Not bad for a guy we last saw getting crushed by Zelg Galesic in the Super Fight League.
On the heels of an upset victory over season 6 finalist Andreas Spang in the season 8 quarterfinals last month, Marshall squared off against the undefeated Russian Sultan Aliev last night. As we know, these are prime days to be a Russian competing in Bellator, hence why Aliev was a 3-to-1 favorite heading into the affair. The good news? Marshall took another huge step forward in what has been an unlikely championship run, defeating Aliev by way of split decision. The even better news? Despite being napped on for the majority of the first and third rounds, Marshall was handed the victory for actually bringing the fight to his opponent without needing a warning from Herb Dean to do so. It was a decision that you wouldn’t likely see swing in Marshall’s favor 9 times out of 10, but for once, takedowns + top control – any actual offense did not equal a winning combination in MMA. We were just as shocked as you were.
Full results for Bellator 92 and a couple gif highlights are after the jump.
Given that his last fight resulted in a loss to Travis Wiuff, Christian M’Pumbu was something of a paper-champion coming into his first official Bellator title defense against Attila Vegh. By the end of the match, M’Pumbu wasn’t a champion at all.
The two light-heavyweights met in the main event of last night’s Bellator 91 event at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, with the Slovak challenger out-hustling his French-Congolese opponent over five rounds. Vegh directed the pace, landed harder punches — leading to a knockdown in round 1 — and slashed open M’Pumbu’s head with some elbows from the top in round 3.
Though the championship rounds didn’t offer much in terms of excitement, momentum was already in the favor of Vegh, who cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Vegh becomes Bellator’s new light-heavyweight champion, and will make his first title defense against…well, not King Mo, that’s for sure.
Bellator 91′s main card also featured the semi-finals of its Season 8 lightweight tournament. Leading off the Spike broadcast was a rematch between David Rickels and Jason Fischer, who had previously met in a non-tournament bout at Bellator 82; Fischer had come in as a short-notice injury replacement for Alexander Sarnavskiy. Though the final result was the same as their last meeting — Rickels by unanimous decision — the Caveman’s performance was even more dominant this time, as he outclassed Fischer with his striking and submission attempts.
Rickels’s win books him a ticket to the Season 8 lightweight finals against Saad Awad, who steamrolled Will Brooks in just 43 seconds on the other side of the lightweight bracket last night. Awad previously KO’d Guillaume DeLorenzi in 31 seconds during the lightweight quarterfinals at Bellator 87. Fun fact (or scary fact, if you’re David Rickels): Awad’s current six-fight win streak includes four knockouts in under a minute.
When you’re watching a Bellator event, you can only hope that a memorable finish or two will make up for the general lack of star power compared to those other guys. And oh man, did last night’s Bellator 90 event in West Valley City, Utah, deliver the goods, with all four fights on the Spike TV main card ending within the first two rounds, and three more stoppages featured on the prelims.
The fight on the other side of the 170-bracket was just as quick and one-sided. Douglas Lima didn’t give Bryan Baker a chance to get in the fight, abusing Baker’s legs with low kicks for a couple minutes, then firing a devastating right hand that crumpled “The Beast” to the mat. Lima will now face Saunders in the Season 8 Welterweight Tournament Final at Bellator 93, in a rematch of their Season 5 Welterweight Tournament Final in November 2011, which Lima won by knockout.
(Knockout of the Night: Saad Awad’s surgical strike on Guillaum DeLorenzi)
Bellator held their Season 8 lightweight tournament quarterfinals last night at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, featuring a wild-and-wooly three-rounder between David “Caveman” Rickels and Lloyd Woodard, and a dominant promotional debut by hot 155-pound prospect Will Brooks. Our own Jason Moles was in attendance, and will be bringing us an interview with Bjorn Rebney later today. In the meantime, here are the videos of all six stoppages on the Bellator 87 card (courtesy of Troll Smasher), with complete results at the end of this post. Enjoy.
(Alexander Sarnavskiy’s rear-naked choke of Thiago Michel)
For the first time since his controversial technical submission of Ryan Thomas during his Bellator debut three years ago, Ben Askren has finished an opponent. Sure, it was one of those sort-of-assisted finishes where the doctor steps in between rounds to wave the fight off, but let’s not take anything anything away from Funky Ben, here: The undefeated Bellator welterweight champion smashed the living dog-poop out of Karl Amoussou for three full rounds last night, and might have permanently injured him had the fight gone on any longer.
It was a prototypical performance from Askren, who spent most of the fight on top of Amoussou, throwing down punches and elbows. Still, there seemed to be a greater sense of urgency from the champ in this fight, a little more intention with his strikes. He slashed open a cut above Amoussou’s eye with an elbow in the first round, and by the end of round three, Amoussou’s left eye was swollen shut and his face was a wet canvas of blood. The fight was mercifully stopped before the fourth round could begin, giving Askren a well-deserved TKO victory.
“I told you guys that it was just a matter of time before my hands got some power in them,” Askren said after the fight. “I dominate positionally, and my hands [have] power too. Welterweights anywhere in the world better watch out, I’m coming.” Askren’s next challenge will likely be the winner of this season’s welterweight tournament, which produced four semifinalists last night…
If we needed any more proof that Michael Chandler deserves to be mentioned among the world’s best 155′ers, we got it last night at Bellator 85 in Irvine, California, when the reigning Bellator lightweight champion made decorated judoka Rick Hawn look like it was his first time on the mats. Chandler completed his takedowns with impressive ease, and when he saw an opportunity to take Hawn’s neck during a scramble in round two, he seized on it, sinking a rear-naked choke and showcasing the killer instinct that has now become a hallmark of Chandler’s game. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a fight, and this season’s lightweight tournament field doesn’t suggest that his next challenger will make things any harder for him. On the bright side, Chandler may have just established himself as Bellator’s greatest home-grown fighter — a budding superstar for the promotion’s new Spike TV era.
While Michael Chandler made his title defense with little resistance, reigning featherweight champion Pat Curran faced a much trickier test in Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Their title fight (which led off the Spike TV broadcast) played out as a 25-minute kickboxing match, which started slow but built into an entertaining and evenly-pitched battle. Curran’s striking was just a little more active and accurate, however, and if you were judging on facial damage through the fight, Pitbull’s swollen-shut right eye and bloodied mouth didn’t exactly scream “winner.” When the scores were announced, “Judo” Gene LeBell saw it for the challenger, but the other two judges made the right call in awarding the win to the defending champ.
In addition to the two title fights, Bellator 85′s main card also featured a pair of light-heavyweight tournament quarterfinals. Unfortunately, those UFC castoffs we mentioned yesterday are well on their way to becoming Bellator castoffs as well, as Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Seth Petruzelli were steamrolled by their lesser-known competitors. Russian M-1 Challenge vet Mikhail Zayats stunned Sobral with a spinning-backfist near the end of the first round of their fight, then swarmed him to the canvas and fired down punches until the fight was stopped. (Eddie Alvarez’s wife called that shit, you guys.)