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Tag: Bellator

And Now He’s Fired: Bellator Releases Ben Saunders, For Some Reason [UPDATED]


(“You want to put me on a t-shirt? Sure, sounds great buddy!” — Marcus Davis / Photo via topmmanews)

Since his Bellator debut in 2011, Ben Saunders has been one of the most visible and entertaining members of the promotion’s welterweight division. But unfortunately, he was never able to win a tournament, failing to secure the Big Check in three consecutive years. And so, in the wake of his head kick knockout loss to Douglas Lima at Bellator 100 in September, Bellator has released the Killa B. Bjorn Rebney explained the decision in a statement released to MMAMania:

I’ve been a ‘Killa B’ fan for years, and Ben’s given 100 percent of his heart every single time he’s stepped into the Bellator cage. After competing in three Bellator tournaments, Ben could never get to the top of that mountain, and as we continue to grow and expand I spoke to Ben and we both decided it was time to move in a different direction, so we provided Ben his complete release.

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Ben Askren Joins Evolve MMA, Likely Headed to…One FC (?!!!)


(Askren, seen here attempting to grapple with the current One FC welterweight champion.)

Poor, poor Ben Askren.

Despite being one of the most talented/accomplished wrestlers in the sport (if not the most talented/accomplished), and despite his blatant attempts at trolling his way into the UFC, it seems that “Funky” simply does not meet the standard of the world’s premier MMA organization. If only he had been born in Tuvalu, perhaps this glaring oversight could have been avoided. Dana White recently spoke with USA Today about the former Bellator champion’s future:

He’s a nice guy. You know, we just won’t be signing him. There’s competition for him at World Series of Fighting. This kid will probably sign with them. I don’t know (since) they’ve got to come to an agreement and a deal. But if he does, there’s actual competition for him there.

I think it’s crazy that he’s ranked in the top 10. He hasn’t fought anybody (Ed note: Way to kick Jay Hieron while he’s down) and has no challenges. The best thing that could’ve ever happened to that kid was leaving Bellator. Now he has the opportunity to go to World Series of Fighting and show what he’s got.

You’re right, Dana. There is plenty of some competition to be had at WSOF. Unfortunately, it appears that Askren is well on his way to signing with One FC, who we weren’t even aware had a welterweight division until earlier today. Join us after the jump for the details.

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Heart & Soul of MMA: Said Hatim, And The Virtue of Staying Ready


Said Hatim (center) cuts weight on a treadmill in Minsk, Belarus this week with student Andrei Arlovski (right) and coach Dino Costeas (left) | Photos via HatimStyle

By Elias Cepeda

MMA has come quite far in the past decade but very few fighters are featured on national television, sponsored by big companies and able to focus 100% of their energy on the sport. Many more put in the blood, sweat and tears without the bright lights or big bucks, filled with and fueled by love and an inexplicable drive to simply be a better fighter.

They hold down full-time jobs, have families and are known only to those truly in the know. They are the heart and soul of MMA.

Said Hatim is one such fighter.

The idea was initially proposed half-heartedly. Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski had recently booked his next fight — a main event contest on the Battle in Minsk card in his home of Belarus on Nov. 29 — and jokingly asked his Muay Thai coach Said Hatim if he also wanted to fight on the card.

Said was a pro kickboxer and boxer for years and has coached and trained with high level fighters like boxer Mike Mollo, UFC veteran Clay Guida, top Bellator featherweight Mike Corey and TUF veteran Mark Miller but his lone, albeit successful, MMA fight had taken place five years ago. Since that time, Hatim has focused on coaching and submission grappling tournaments.

Sure, he’d make the trip to Europe with Arlovski to be in his corner as he usually does, but Hatim was now 38 years old and half a decade removed from his last fight. “The Pitbull” was suggesting that Hatim add to his coaching responsibilities on fight night with his own contest against a much younger competitor. Said didn’t hesitate.

“Andrei told me that he was fighting in a main event November 29 and asked me, ‘Oh, do you want to fight too?,’” Hatim recounts to CagePotato.

“We were joking like that. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll fight.’”

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Bellator Faces a Pivotal Crossroad Heading Into the Next Season


(The high point for Bellator. Photo via Tracy Lee/CombatLifestyle.com)

By Matt Saccaro

The ninth season of Bellator demonstrated what the Viacom-owned promotion is capable of when it’s given a platform on a stable, popular network—but can what season nine showed us elevate Bellator to the top while simultaneously revitalizing the stagnating MMA market in the United States?

It’s tough to tell, though we can glean a semblance of an answer when we look at an event that was simultaneously the high point and low point for Bellator during its ninth season: Bellator 106, the PPV that wasn’t. The card encapsulated everything that was right and wrong with Bellator.

What was wrong:

-Focusing on well-past-their-prime talent—Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz—and the “these guys used to be in the UFC” marketing line in order to sell a PPV. The cancellation of the PPV because Ortiz suffered yet another injury.

-The conclusion of the knock-off Ultimate Fighter, “Fight Master,” being won by Joe Riggs, another peaked-in-the-mid-2000s, ex-UFC fighter.

-The dubious interim title fight between King Mo and Emanuel Newton that defied the “title shots are earned and not given” mantra that made Bellator special.

What was right:

-Bellator’s homegrown talent like Michael Chandler, Daniel Straus, and Pat Curran being proudly put on display for the MMA world to see.

-Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez was one of the best fights of the year.

-The card being free on Spike TV meant it was the most-viewed in the promotion’s history with 1.1 million viewers.

These takeaways from Bellator 106 can be applied to the promotion’s efforts as a whole.

Bellator’s reliance on ex-UFC fighters in concerning. Rampage drew the second-highest ratings in Bellator history with 793,000 viewers in his fight against Joey Beltran, but banking on older, expensive fighters isn’t sustainable. At 35 years old, Rampage has a limited time left in the sport. The same goes for 38-year-old Tito Ortiz, who hasn’t even fought for Bellator yet since he can’t stay healthy. Placing the weight of a promotion’s future on surgically reconstructed knees and necks is a terrible idea.

Bellator apologists might argue that Rampage and Tito were brought in to garner the casual fan’s attention and in doing so promote the lesser-known, Bellator-made fighters…

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Bellator 109 Results: Shlemenko Destroys Marshall’s Liver, Hawn Batters Keslar

Bellator 109 was the final event in the promotion’s ninth season. Like most other fight cards, it had its ups and downs.

Of note on the prelims, famed wrestler Bubba Jenkins rebounded from his upset loss to Larue Burly at Bellator 100. Blagoi Ivanov, one of the few men to beat Fedor Emelianenko in Sambo and who recently recovered from near-death, extended his unbeaten streak to nine fights. Also, 20-year-old Brazilian prospect Goiti Yamauchi ran over Saul Almeida like a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion runs over a small possum (though the Brazilian was seven pounds overweight for the fight).

In the night’s first bout, Terry Etim faced Patrick Cenoble. This was Etim’s first fight outside of the UFC since the promotion let him go. After watching this match, the UFC is probably patting themselves on the back for that call. Etim won a pedestrian decision. If you like seeing a grappler lounge in dominant positions for 15 minutes, this was your kind of fight.

Fans who didn’t sprint away from Spike TV after Etim-Cenoble were treated to the lightweight tournament semifinal: Will Brooks vs. Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy. The first round was closely contested. Sarnavskiy landed a few crisp combinations, as did Brooks. The American slowed the pace in the second round, employing the grinding style which he’s become known for. “Tiger” became a kitten under Brooks’ pressure. Brooks outclassed Sarnavskiy in the latter 10 minutes of the fight. He was stronger, better conditioned, and a superior grappler. He earned a unanimous decision victory.

Also on the card…

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And Now He’s Fired (Again): Matt Riddle Released By Bellator After Pulling Out of Second Straight Event

 
(Funny how this moment more or less serves as a metaphor for the past two years of Riddle’s life.) 

Ever since being ousted from the UFC following his second positive test for marijuana in his past three fights, Matt Riddle‘s MMA career has suffered more setbacks than the Obamacare website (#nailedit). First, he signed with Legacy Fighting Championships, only to have his contract bought out by Bellator before ever stepping foot in the LFC cage. He was then entered in the Bellator season 9 welterweight tournament, except that shortly thereafter, he injured his rib and decided to retire from the sport to find a “real job.” Except that less than a month later, Riddle announced his unretirement and accepted a fight at Bellator 109.

Unfortunately for Riddle, it looks like he will have to start looking for a “real job” once again (I hear Josh Rosenthal is seeking an understudy/mule), as he has now been released from his Bellator contract after pulling out of his second straight fight. Said Bellator Director of Communications Anthony Mazzuca in a prepared statement (via MMAFighting):

Matt was a guy we had high hopes for coming into Bellator. After Matt suffered his rib injury and withdrew from our tournament, we went back to the drawing board and got Matt another fight on November 22nd.

Unfortunately, Matt very recently informed us he would not be fighting on November 22nd from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and at that point we decided to release Matt from Bellator. We wish him the best in his future endeavors. 

Further muddying the “Deep Waters” (I’m so sorry, you guys) is the fact that no solid reasoning has been given for Riddle’s withdrawal from the card. As you might expect, Riddle’s scheduled opponent, Nathan Coy, is understandably pissed…

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Bellator 108 Recap: Rampage Finishes Beltran at the Bell, Minakov Becomes Bellator Heavyweight Champ


(Rampage intimidates Beltran while Bjorn Rebney continues to do his best Dana White impression. / Image via Sherdog)

Bellator 108 had the potential to be a disaster for the perennial runner-up promotion, but it wasn’t. All of the main card fights were exciting, first-round finishes. And, most importantly, the right guy won the main event.

Here’s the event recap, from bottom to top:

On the prelims, Bellator’s 6’6″ English light heavyweight prospect Liam McGeary advanced to 6-0. He’s raw but, from what we’ve seen so far, also quite talented and diverse. If he were in the UFC, there’d be dozens of “Is Liam McGeary the man to beat Jones in 2014?” articles written by now.

UFC and strikeforce veteran Nah-Shon Burrell won a forgettable unanimous decision against a guy named Jesus Martinez who also had a Jesus tattoo. Awesome.

Two other UFC vets were featured on the prelims: Tom DeBlass and Jason Lambert. The fight between them was short. DeBlass scored a walk-off KO with a devastating hook early in the first round.

The main card started with the featherweight tournament final between Bellator mainstray Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vs. Justin Wilcox. Pitbull finished Wilcox in the first round in largely uncompetitive fight. Every one of Freire’s frequently-landed punches seemed to rock Wilcox, who eventually succumbed to the Brazilian’s flurries. This was the second time Freire has won the Bellator featherweight tournament.

Read on to learn about the specifics of Rampage’s victory as well as of the Bellator heavyweight title fight.

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Ben Askren *Released* by Bellator (!) For Being “A Completely One-Dimensional, Utterly Dominant Fighter”


(Bjorn Rebney: Putting the “backhand” in “backhanded compliment” since 2008.)

You gotta love the Bellator business model, Nation. Two aging, injury-prone UFC stars who are 3-7 in their past 10 combined? BUILD A PPV AROUND THEM, DAMMIT. A longstanding (albeit incredibly boring) champion who has dominated every last opponent placed before him? LET HIM SPREAD HIS WINGS AND FLY, DAMMIT.

And so goes the Bellator career of welterweight champion Ben Askren, who was released into the murky waters of unrestricted free agency earlier today. A press release sent out this morning has the details:

Ben Askren is now an unrestricted free agent after Bellator released the undefeated welterweight. The Bellator Welterweight World Title will be vacant until Douglas Lima faces the winner of the Season 9 Welterweight Tournament later this winter when the new Bellator Welterweight Champion will be crowned.

“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” (Ed note: BUUUUUURRRRNNNN?!) Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I had a number of discussions with Ben and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions. We’ve relinquished any right to match here and Ben can sign with whoever he chooses to sign with. Ben’s been at Bellator since the start of his career, I respect him and what he’s accomplished and wish him the best wherever he goes.”

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Bellator 107 Recap: Cheick Kongo Wins in Typical Cheick Kongo Fashion, Joe Warren Scores TKO Over Travis Marx


(Photo via Bellator MMA)

Bellator 107 was a crucial show for Bellator. Over one million people were exposed to their product last week. Did they wow anyone who decided to tune in for a second week in a row?

Yes and no.

They made a poor decision in starting the card with a fight between virtually unknown fighter Derek Campos and disappointing British prospect Martin Stapleton. Any converts from the previous event likely switched channels after this fight started; it was that bad. The only notable part of this contest was when Stapleton’s knee almost went out (or at least that’s what it looked like) during a spinning backfist attempt, resulting in a crazy jig. Campos won via unanimous decision.

Fortunately, the second fight of the night picked up the pace a little bit. After a lackluster first round, the middleweight tournament final between Mikkel Parlo and Brennan Ward ended in fireworks. In what can only be described as “beast mode,” Ward battered Parlo’s body with sledgehammer-like punches (GIF via @ZProphet_MMA), and then started teeing off on Parlo’s head. Ward battered Parlo so badly that the fight was stopped while Parlo was still standing. It was one of the best displays of the pure violence inherent in MMA in recent memory.

Get the run down of the co-main and main event after the jump.

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‘Chandler vs. Alvarez 2′ Pulls 1.1 Million Viewers For Largest Audience in Bellator History


(The shot of the year, from a different angle. Photo via Facebook.com/mstracylee)

It’s official: Bellator’s canceled pay-per-view was the greatest thing that ever happened to the promotion. (Called it!) According to a press release distributed today by Spike TV, Bellator 106: Chandler vs. Alvarez 2 delivered 1.1 million average viewers during the Spike telecast, which made it the most-watched event in Bellator history and the most watched mixed martial arts show on television this fall. As the release goes on to explain:

The “Chandler-Alvarez II” fight card peaked at 1.4 million viewers at 11:17pm and reached its high mark with Men 18-49 with a 1.1 rating for the Alvarez-Chandler bout. The telecast also ranked #2 in cable in its timeslot with Men 18-49.

For fans who missed the fight, or who recorded it but the end was cut off due to the extraordinary length of the event, Spike TV will replay the Chandler-Alvarez II main event bout on Friday, November 8 at 8:00pm ET/PT. The replay will lead into a live Bellator event featuring heavyweights Cheick Kongo vs. Peter Graham and a co-feature with lightweight contenders Joe Warren and Travis Marx.

Note to Bellator: Don’t brag about the “extraordinary length” of your event. That shit was nearly four hours long, and people almost died out here. (It’s worth noting that the audience peaked well before the main event had even begun.) On the plus side, it must feel amazing for Bellator to clown the UFC with that “most watched mixed martial arts show on television this fall” line, especially at a time when the UFC is probably kind of sensitive about that sort of thing.

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