The Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament semi-finals went off with a bang in Atlantic City, New Jersey as Bellator 54 anchored ship last night at the Boardwalk Hall. “The Beast” Bryan Baker (13-3) took on Vitor Vianna (12-1) and “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (32-4) slugged it out with “The Predator” Brian Rogers (8-3) for a chance to advance to the finals and a shot at Bellator gold. Bellator Bantamweight Champion “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (14-2) stepped back into the cage for another non-title fight against the powerhouse Ryan Roberts (16-11). The main card featured on MTV2 was started off in the lightweight division with a bout featuring Bellator veteran “The Brazilian Bomber” Rene Nazare (8-1) and the Bellator first-timer “The Hunter” Jacob Kirwan (9-3).
Jacob Kirwan vs. Rene Nazare: Looking to stay undefeated in Bellator, Nazare came in with the confidence to get another finish, but Kirwan was looking to establish himself as a solid contender for the next lightweight tournament. Nazare opened up with chopping leg kicks and fast hands that Kirwan wanted nothing to do with and went for the takedown. However, “The Hunter’s” efforts were used against him as Nazare reversed, got in top position and rained down punishment for most of the round. Kirwan dug deep and got into a dominant position but couldn’t get much done in the time he had left. He didn’t let his efforts go to waste though. Kirwan came out in the second and third rounds and controlled “The Brazilian Bomber” on the mat with increasing ease as the fight wore on. Nazare was gassing while Kirwan was pouring it all out to secure a win in his Bellator debut. The fight wasn’t without sour moments with several stand-ups due to lack of action and the fans shouting in disappointment, but all and all Jacob Kirwan did well and was awarded the unanimous nod and likely a spot in the upcoming lightweight tournament. Kirwan via Unanimous Decision
Ryan Roberts vs. Zach Makovsky: Makovsky stepped into the cage for his second superfight since winning his title, marking the twelfth non-title fight of Bellator’s reigning champions. Standing across from him was the former welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, and now very large bantamweight Ryan Roberts. The fight started at a fast pace as Makovsky and Roberts each traded a kick before Makovsky went for a takedown and took the action to the mat. Roberts trapped Makovsky’s head in the leg scissors, an ineffective move to gain the upper hand, and wasted a fair amount of energy before releasing it. From there the action slowed as the men traded punches with Roberts getting the better of the exchanges. The Bellator champ didn’t lose his step and fired back with a crisp straight left that met Robert’s chin and buckled his legs. Makovsky took advantage and went on the hunt, throwing a punch-kick combo and going for the single-leg to get the fight back on the mat. Makovsky moved to the north-south position and locked on the choke with only 15 seconds left and got the tap three seconds later. Makovsky via Submission (North-South Choke), Round 1
Vitor Vianna vs. Bryan Baker: WEC and Bellator veteran Bryan Baker was welcomed with strong support not only from the crowd but also from his opponent Vitor Vianna. However, the respect and good will to one another quickly went away as the bell for the first round sounded and both men hurried to the center of the cage. Baker was wild with his shots, looking for a fast knockout and bragging rights, while Vianna was more collected, picking his shots wisely and avoiding the haymakers of Baker. The beginning of the end came when Baker threw a wild left that Vianna countered with a brutal overhand right to the temple. Vianna almost cost himself the match with a PRIDE-style soccer kick but the kick missed and he dropped into position where a barrage of hammerfists that Baker was unable to answer brought the end just 54 seconds into the bout. Vianna moves on the finals of the tournament and awaits his fellow finalist. Vianna via TKO (Punches), Round 1
Brian Rogers vs. Alexander Shlemenko: Two strikers entered the cage with promises to knock the other one out at all costs. Those words held true as both Rogers and Shlemenko went right into battle as the bell sounded. Shlemenko struck first with a solid body kick and left hand that caught Rogers off guard. The upcoming exchanges would remind anime fans of Dragon Ball Z as both men fired off shots that were blocked, dodged, and countered by the other for the remaining parts of the round with each man shrugging off what landed as they continued exchanging at a break neck pace. Rogers gained the upper hand when he dropped Shlemenko with a straight right but the Russian popped back to this feet and launched a spinning strike that Rogers avoided and countered. A brief wrestling exchange showed that Shlemenko’s skills continue to improve as he maintained both control and the pace that had already been set early in the match as he escaped to his feet from the bottom. The round ended with a slight edge going to Rogers due to more dominant positions. The second round was picked up right where the first left off, with Shelmenko on the run early by Rogers’ onslaught of punches. Rogers closed for the kill, but “The Storm” was ready. He countered “The Predator’s” advance with a well-timed spinning backfist that put Rogers on skates. The Russian smelled blood and poured on even more pressure by staying on the outside of the pocket and launching an endless torrent of well-placed knees and punches as “The Predator” fired back blindly, desperately trying to gain a brief reprieve in order to get his legs back under him. The end came just moments later as Shelmenko put his foe away and stamped his ticket to the tournament finals for a second time where he will face Vitor Vianna for the right to fight for the middleweight title. Shelmenko via TKO (Punches), Round 2
Vitor Vianna and Alexander Shelmenko will face each other in the Season 5 Middleweight Tournament finals at Bellator 58 on November 19. That same evening Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (20-2) defends his title against last season’s tournament winner Michael Chandler (8-0), and is accompanied by the non-title fight between 185lbs. king “Shango” Hector Lombard (28-2) and UFC and Strikeforce veteran Trevor Prangley (23-7).
Bellator 54 Quick Results
Brian Rogers vs. Alexander Shlemenko: Shlemenko via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 2:30
Vitor Vianna vs. Bryan Baker: Vianna via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 0:54
Ryan Roberts vs. Zach Makovsky: Makovsky via Submission (North-South Choke), Round 1, 4:48
Jacob Kirwan vs. Rene Nazare: Kirwan via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Daniel Gracie vs. Duane Bastress: Bastress via TKO (Doctor Stoppage – Cut), Round 2, 5:00
Tim Carpenter vs. Ryan Contaldi: Carpenter via KO (Punch), Round 1, 2:16
Lewis Rumsey vs. Joey Kirwan: Kirwan via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 1, 1:40
Claudio Ledesma vs. Brian Kelleher: Ledesma via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00