Bellator Fighting Championships made its debut in Cleveland, Ohio with Bellator 66. Friday night’s stacked card was filled with explosive warriors, four Season 6 tourney semi-finals match-ups, and a rematch three years in the making. Submission specialist Brent Weedman (21-7) duked it out with Brazilian kickboxer Thiago Michel Pereira Silva (10-3) and Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (12-1) faced the tough “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (12-1) to determine who would meet in the 155lbs. tournament finals. Four middleweights faced off in the 185lbs. tournament semi-finals as Russian boxer “Slava” Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (16-1) locked horns with Brazilian powerhouse “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (29-4) and Ohio’s knockout artist “The Predator” Brian Rogers (9-3) faced late replacement “Sweet Swede” Andreas Spang (7-1). Since New Year’s Eve 2008 fans have chanted for the rematch of former Bellator lightweight king Eddie Alvarez (22-3) and DREAM Lightweight Champion “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (30-5). That match finally happened inside the Bellator cage for last night’s main event, and disappoint it did not.
Brent Weedman vs. Thiago Michel Pereira Silva: It was a battle between expert kickboxers from the sound of the opening bell for these two lightweight semi-finalists. Pereira gained the upper hand early, picking apart Weedman with counter-strikes to the head and a mixture of kicks to the body and up top. Weedman went for a takedown but surprisingly Pereira reversed and gained the dominant position. Weedman fought back to gain a more comfortable position before the two returned to their feet. Round 1 ended with Weedman taking Pereira back down after eating several heavy shots and a head kick from the Brazilian. The second stanza saw a more rejuvenated Weedman, as he dragged Pereira to the mat and launched a submission chain. Throughout the round it was the Kentucky native who showed superiority on the mat, using his larger frame to press down on Pereira and do damage with ground-and-pound. The lightweight combatants opened up the third round back in their kickboxing duel, resulting in Weedman sustaining a badly swollen right eye from his foe’s punches and high kicks. Pereira circled right to get into Weedman’s blind spot then began countering his strikes. Weedman clinched Pereira against the fence then flipped him to the ground, but Pereira fought his way back to his feet and gave Weedman some departing shots. Pereira owned his opponent in the closing moments of the bout with his superior kickboxing, but Weedman pushed for a final takedown that didn’t go according to plan, as Pereira landed on top and finished the round. Ultimately it was Brent Weedman though who was determined to have the edge over his foe in the opening bout of the evening. Weedman via Split Decision
Rick Hawn vs. Lloyd Woodard: The eccentric brawler Lloyd Woodard and Judo Olympian Rick Hawn met in the center of the cage, Woodard immediately showing his aggression and rushing his opponent to the fence. Hawn is determined to keep the fight in close as he clinched Woodard against the cage to work his dirty boxing. The clinch game was cut short though as the referee separated the fighters due to inactivity. Woodard resumed chasing Hawn and went to taunting him to come at him. Hawn got the clinch and took “Cupcake” to the mat with a Judo toss. Hawn’s intent clearly was to drag Woodard into the later rounds to slow him down and avoid getting into a slugfest with his wild opponent. The sound of the bell indicating the end of Round 1 sees Woodard visibly disgruntled with the fight not going his way. He was right back in it for Round 2, though, again charging after Rick Hawn. Former Olympian Hawn faded back then fired a straight right down the pipe that dropped Woodard hard. Hawn pounced and rained down hammerfists on “Cupcake” until the referee intervened, stamping Hawn’s ticket to the tourney finals against Brent Weedman. Hawn via TKO (Punches), Round 2
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky vs. Maiquel Falcao: The fight began with Vasilevsky executing an in-and-out game plan to avoid the immense power of Falcao. Vasilevsky drew first blood as he trapped Falcao against the cage and clipped him with a straight right. Falcao dropped to the mat but wasn’t hurt, and locked up his guard. The fight stalled out as Vasilevsky worked his ground-and-pound in vain, as Falcao’s guard kept him from doing any real damage. “Big Rig” managed to climb back to his feet only to be dragged back down to the mat. The Russian again worked to punish Falcao but was fended off by the Brazilian, and the referee again reset the fighters standing due to inactivity. Round 1 clearly went to Vasilevsky due to having more control throughout. The second frame began with “Slava” floating on his feet and Falcao putting on the heat with heavy shots. Falcao was having difficulty connecting with his punches due to his five-inch reach deficit and the quick reflexes of Vasilevsky. The two clinched again and “Slava” tripped Falcao to his back and assumed side control. The Brazilian exploded out and pressed his opponent against the cage, unloading uppercuts in the clinch. Vasilevsky went for another trip but this time Falcao landed on top. “Big Rig” wasted no time and started battering the ribs and head of the 23-year-old veteran. Though a close round, Falcao gained a slight edge over the Russian. The final frame was much different than its predecessors as a visibly more confident Falcao rocked Vasilevsky with a right cross. He chased after his prey, landing heavy punches and knees to the body. Vasilevsky survived and recovered but was still dazed and obviously did not want to engage with “Big Rig” on the feet. Vasilevsky dragged Falcao to the mat to avoid more strikes, however Falcao reversed and resumed his onslaught of punches. “Slava” stood and took his opponent back to the canvas for the final ten seconds of the fight. It wasn’t the stand-up war the combatants promised, but nonetheless it was the feared striker Falcao who walked away with the W. Falcao via Unanimous Decision
Brian Rogers vs. Andreas Spang: With the sound of the bell hometown fighter Brian Rogers stalked Andreas Spang to the center of the cage. “Sweet Swede” fired off several leg kicks but it was Rogers who had success early on as he buckled Spang with an overhand right and then chased after him with a high kick, slipping to his back. Spang took Rogers’ back and sank in a Rear Naked Choke but “The Predator” defended well and dropped back to the ground to move to the center of the cage. The two continued their seek and destroy missions in the striking game. Rogers buckled Spang again with heavy punches and Spang countered with a kick to the body that was caught by Rogers. The Ohio native flipped Spang to his back and the two went to battle on the mat briefly before returning to the feet then back to the canvas to close out the round. The second round resumed the war between Rogers and Spang with “The Predator” tearing up his opponent with heavy punches and pushing him backward. Spang attacked from angles and countered the missed strikes from Rogers. Rogers popped Spang with a hard left and hurt the Swedish import again, then poured on more of his own brand of punishment but again Spang recovered. “Slava” pressed forward as Rogers stepped backward with a wide left hook. Spang countered with a left hook that connected flush to “The Predator’s” jaw and put him flat on his back. After a short series of unanswered shots, the referee stepped in to prevent Rogers from absorbing further damage. Spang via TKO (Punches), Round 2
Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki: Revenge is usually served cold but to Eddie Alvarez the fire for revenge burned hotter than ever. The former champion came out to fight smart while Aoki stood in his usual stance ready to dart away from Alvarez’s boxing and steal a takedown. Alvarez popped the body of his rival several times with right hands and Aoki countered with a kick but Alvarez darted away and answered back with more crisp boxing. The JMMA star went for a takedown however Alvarez wanted nothing of it and got away, furthermore forcing Aoki to climb back to his feet. Alvarez pushed Aoki towards the cage and dropped him with a hard right uppercut. The American went for broke and pounced on ”Tobikan Judan” to pour on the ground-and-pound. Aoki turned away and tried to defend against Alvarez’s fists, but it was to no avail. Aoki’s corner threw in the towel however the referee’s eyes were on the lightweight combatants and he missed the signal, though the fight was called only seconds later. Alvarez via TKO (Punches), Round 1
Click here for the full list of Bellator 66 results.