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.
As we previously reported, UFC Fight Night 50 in Ledyard will feature a suspiciously-stacked lineup featuring Ronaldo Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell, Matt Mitrione vs. Derrick Lewis, and Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa. But Bellator isn’t going down quietly. The promotion has announced three more bouts for its Bellator 123: Curran vs. Pitbull 2 card in Uncasville, and they all feature guys you’ve heard of…
Cheick Kongo vs. Lavar Johnson: Kongo bounced back to the win column with a second-round TKO of Eric Smith at Bellator 120 in May, and has put together a 3-1 record under the Bellator banner. He’ll face fellow UFC veteran Lavar “Big” Johnson, who has struggled to find his footing in Bellator, dropping to 1-2 in the promotion after his April submission loss against Blagoy Ivanov. Johnson has lost four of his last five fights overall.
I think it was midway through the second round of Paulo Thiago‘s bout with Gasan Umalatov on the TUF Brazil 3 Finale undercard that I began to feel a heavy, sinking feeling in my stomach. I thought it was just fight fatigue at first, my body’s way of telling me to step away from the television and do something, anything to negate the effects caused by a (by that point) six hour binge of manure ads, Linkin Park-dubbed promos, and the occasional MMA fight.
It wasn’t until the Thiago-Umalatov decision was handed down, however, that I was able to identify the cause of my discomfort. Paulo Thiago, real-life superhero and a fighter I have unapologetically rooted for since watching him knock out Josh Koscheck in his promotional debut at UFC 95, is likely on his way out of the UFC.Old Dad best summed up my feelings about Thiago, tweeting after the decision “Is it time for me to admit that Paulo Thiago is probably never going to be as awesome as I want him to be? Maybe, yeah.”
The fact is, Thiago has consistently underwhelmed since scoring violent finishes over Koscheck and Mike Swick early in his UFC career, dropping six of his past eight fights and only scoring decision wins over IDon’t and GiveaFuck. While I won’t go as far as to call his upset wins “flukes,” it’s safe to say that Thiago has unfortunately fallen into the category of UFC fighters who were never able to exceed the hype generated by their UFC debuts. Fighters like…
MMA fans knew knew less than nothing about Houston Alexander before he was matched up with Keith Jardine at UFC 71. Sure, he looked like something out of a Scared Straight program, but at just 7-1 as a pro, he seemed well out of his league against “The Dean of Mean.” Even Jardine, fresh off the biggest win of his career over Forrest Griffin, was baffled by the matchmaking, all but dismissing Alexander in some uncharacteristic pre-fight trash-talk.
But as Raymond Atkins once wrote, “Hubris is when God screws you over for being a smartass.” And screw over Jardine he did. In less than a minute’s time, the TUF alum found himself lying face down on the canvas thanks to a barrage of uppercuts so vicious that even his mouthguard was forced to flee for its life.
There were no title fights at Bellator 116, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth watching. The heavyweight tournament semifinals took place on the card, as well as a single welterweight tournament semifinal.
Mighty Mo shot for a single leg right out of the gate. Mo couldn’t get Volkov down, but managed to keep him pressed against the cage for the first half of the round. Volkov landed a knee to the body in the clinch, which caused Mo to back off. Then, Volkov hit a tremendous round kick to Mo’s face and knocked him out cold. He hit Mo so hard that the shockwaves made Mo’s belly fat jiggle. Easily one of the best head kick knockouts of the year so far, if not ever. Holy crap. Here’s a GIF (via @ZProphet_MMA)
Volkov, Bellator’s former heavyweight champ, will now be going to the season 10 tournament finals.
Read on to see a GIF of the most amazing, pro-wrestling inspired guillotine choke escape we’ve ever seen.
(Note: The heavyweights are never photographed below the shoulders.)
Bellator 111 being able to build off Bellator 110‘s momentum was questionable. After all, three fourths of 111′s main card was comprised of heavyweights with questionable cardiovascular conditioning. What could’ve turned into a disaster instead turned into a decent night of fights (though some were not so decent), with the Bellator bantamweight title up for grabs between champion Eduardo Dantas and challenger Anthony Leone.
On the prelims: Up-and-comers Brent Primus and Abdul Razak both looked impressive. We will watch their next fights with interest. However, we can’t say that we’ll do the same for Eric Prindle, a mainstay in Bellator’s heavyweight division. In his loss to Javy Alaya, he displayed a ground game so awful it made James Toney look like Marcelo Garcia.
Also of note on the prelims: The first heavyweight tournament quarterfinal took place. Blagoi Ivanov bested Rich Hale in a tepid decision with not a whole lot of action.
(Cheick Kongo relaxing before his fight, presumably listening to high-quality audio of groin shots. / Screen-cap via Chris Nelson)
After nine years in the UFC, Cheick Kongo found himself fighting for another promotion last night. The French heavyweight probably found the experience a little disconcerting, and yet entirely familiar. The cage was there, there was a man inside it, and he was tasked with disposing of him. Yet there is something less about the entire experience for a fighter competing in a lower-tier organization, deprived of the possibility of reaching the glory he once sought. For Kongo and fellow UFC cast-off Lavar Johnson, Friday’s Bellator 102 event in Visalia, California, was the beginning of the end of the road. Both are fighters on the way down, fighting not for what they once strove for, but simply because this is what they know how to do. It’s rarely a road that ends well. All they can hope for is to reclaim the one thing that doesn’t change — the euphoria of victory. Because if you can’t get that, what’s the point anymore?
Kongo was, at least, able to make the best of his opportunity against Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer. His most formidable challenge on the night came from his pre-fight water bottle. Unfortunately, Godbeer wasn’t capable of offering such a test. If there’s one thing Kongo is known for, it’s probably his knee strikes. If there’s another thing he’s known for, it’s probably that those knee strikes tend to find his opponent’s testicles a little too often. Fortunately for almost everyone involved, Kongo managed to keep himself in Cheick tonight. (I’m so sorry.) He battered Godbeer with knees from the clinch throughout the fight, and finished him in the second round with a monster right knee followed by an uppercut against the fence. Able to stave off the reaper for another few months, Kongo advances into the next round of Bellator’s heavyweight tournament.
The same can’t be said for Lavar “Big” Johnson. Cast aside from the UFC for failing a drug test — to say nothing of possessing one of the least imaginative nicknames in a sport rife with them — Johnson was essentially fed his opponent Vinicius “Spartan” Queiroz in his Bellator debut upon returning from his suspension. The expectation was that Johnson, a one-dimensional heavy-hitter, would have no problem dispatching Queiroz in a spectacularly violent fashion. Queiroz, it was reasoned, could offer trouble on the ground, but the fight wouldn’t last long enough to get there. If you’re familiar with ironic foreshadowing, you’ve probably figured out what happens next.
“What happened was basically I was on TRT, I just didn’t disclose it to the athletic commission. It was my mistake. I was taking such little amounts; me and my doctor didn’t think anything was going to pop up, like it’s no big deal. I guess any time you’re taking any kind of testosterone it’s going to show on the test. So that’s basically what I got popped for.
“You know, if you take steroids they’ll suspend you for a year. I wasn’t taking steroids. I was prescribed [TRT] by a doctor. They suspended me for nine months, and I ended up showing them my prescription from my doctor and everything. They ended up reducing it to six months. That was it. Unfortunately I got released from the UFC, and messed up the good opportunity.”
Two questions immediately come to mind: 1) Who the hell is Lavar Johnson’s doctor? He “didn’t think anything was going to pop up, like it’s no big deal”? “I guess any time you’re taking any kind of testosterone it’s going to show on the test”?? Are you fucking kidding me? What did they think was going to happen to Johnson’s testosterone levels when he started taking TRT?
(Don’t worry, Brendan, you’re not far behind. Photo via Getty.)
I think I’m officially done giving a shit about Bellator, you guys.
I know, I’m sure Bjorn will be crushed to hear this news, but it has become more and more apparent as of late that Bellator has absolutely no f*cking idea what they are doing — it’s as if they’ve adopted hypocrisy as a business model. The dichotomy that exists between what Bjorn & the Boys (new band name, called it) say they are doing and what they are actually doing is f*cking infuriating, but today, I’m metaphorically tying my bedsheets into a noose and hanging myself before Bellator can check on me again, for it is the only way to escape this prison I have allowed myself to be placed in.
Whereas Bellator originally understood their role as an original, albeit secondary MMA promotion that delivered free, entertaining cards featuring up-and-coming talent and the occasional star (which, oddly enough, has become the UFC’s business model), it seems that nowadays they are truly content with reheating the UFC’s leftovers and having the audacity to charge us for it. Hence why they’ve recently signed such UFC washouts as Cheick Kongo and now Lavar Johnson to compete in their upcoming heavyweight tournament. Look forward to seeing these two throw down on Bellator’s next PPV card, Shamrock vs. Ortiz IV: BITTERER RIVALS.
MMAJunkie adds some more surprising details about what led to Johnson’s PED bust:
An elevated testestosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 6.6-to-1 triggered a carbon isotope ratio (CIR) test that confirmed Johnson had testosterone in his system that was “was consistent with the administration of a steroid.” Johnson, though, admitted he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy in a recent conversation with the California State Athletic Commission, which oversaw the Feb. 23 pay-per-view event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and suspended him based on the results of his test. Johnson failed to disclose TRT on a pre-fight medical questionnaire. A rep for AKA said the fighter may seek an exemption for the treatment.
Here’s how you know TRT is nothing more than a bullshit cheating-method — when a dude who looks like this claims to need it, and then avoids mentioning it during his pre-fight medicals. Ah well. You can’t say the UFC didn’t warn you. In other UFC drug-bust aftermath news…
UFC heavyweight Lavar Johnson — who directly inspired our “Will You Be Fired…” flowchart by not getting fired following his UFC 157 loss to Brendan Schaub — caught a bit of bad news yesterday. The California State Athletic Commission revealed (via MMAJunkie) that Johnson’s post-fight drug test at the February 23rd event was flagged for elevated levels of testosterone. A follow-up carbon isotope ratio test “confirmed the testosterone was consistent with the administration of a steroid.”
No word yet on what that steroid was specifically or how high his T-levels were, but damn Lavar, you in troubllllllle. A suspension and fine are likely imminent, and the failed test could eliminate the good-will that Johnson has built up with his employers by always coming to bang.