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.
—MAIN CARD (on MTV2)—
Lightweight Super Fight
Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki: Alvarez via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 2:14
Season 6 Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Andreas Spang vs. Brian Rogers: Spang via TKO (Punch), Round 2, 3:34
Season 6 Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky vs. Maiquel Falcao: Falcao via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Season 6 Lightweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Lloyd Woodard vs. Rick Hawn: Hawn via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 0:10
Season 6 Lightweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Thiago Michel Pereira Silva vs. Brent Weedman: Weedman via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
It was New Year’s Eve 2008 when former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (22-3) submitted to a crippling Heel Hook by Japanese superstar “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (30-5) just 92 seconds into their K-1 event “Dynamite!! 2008″ match-up, crowning Aoki the inaugural WAMMA lightweight champ. Over three years have passed and the rematch will finally take place in the Bellator cage this Friday night. Bellator 66 at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio will host not only one of the most sought after rematches in lightweight history but also a stacked card of Season 6 tournament semi-final match-ups in both the middleweight and lightweight divisions. Ohio’s own “The Predator” Brian Rogers (9-3) brings his knockout power against a last-minute replacement in MFC and Strikeforce veteran ”Sweet Swede” Andreas Spang (7-1). Russian fighting sensation “Slava” Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (16-1) takes on the powerful “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (29-4). Colorful yet dangerous “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (12-1) takes on former Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (12-1) in one of two 155lbs. semi-final bouts, the second being Thiago Michael Pereira Silva (10-2) and Brent Weedman (19-7), which will take place on the event’s undercard hosted by Spike.com.
Some people watch The Ultimate Fighter purely for the fights and don’t like the reality TV element. These people tend to be party-pooping wet blankets who think that they’re too good for a little mindless voyeuristic entertainment. Either way, the stuffy “purists” were treated to almost two hours of nothing but fights on the Season 14 premiere of TUF on Wednesday. The fights were pretty solid – as to be expected from bantamweight and featherweight fighters.
UFC 130 received mixed reviews from the fans. A card with ten fights and seven decisions and no super hyped match-ups, Rampage vs. Hamill showed what happens when an organization puts all their eggs in one basket. The fights were, as a whole, excellent, but the UFC had the fans salivating over the conclusion of “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard’s (10-0-1) New Year’s title fight. Once that bout was scrapped due to injuries to both men, the UFC needed a card that was stuffed with “Fight of the Year” candidates to make up for the disappointment, especially among the casual fans. UFC 130 may be getting an unfair bad wrap from many fans and media for not living up to the hype of its cancelled previous incarnation, but the beauty of MMA is that the lackluster reception of the card itself doesn’t reflect too heavily on the fighters involved with it. Some fighters, however, managed to squander that blessing by putting on poor performances that are only magnified by the poor light in which UFC 130 has been cast. To explore who came out ahead and who fell behind, MMA Gospel has The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Paul “Semtex” Daley is arguably the hardest hitting Welterweight in MMA. Nick Diaz began his fight with “Semtex” Saturday night by walking towards him, taunting him with his hands down at his side. That’s some crazy shit. Crazy like a fox? I think so. Diaz showed the cocky Brit how cocky is done – 209 style. But there’s definitely a method to Diaz’s madness. The conventional wisdom was that Diaz should try to get the fight to the ground where Daley is weakest and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu master has a huge advantage… but Nick Diaz ain’t no bitch. He’s said as much on many occasions. Nick doesn’t change the way he fights based on his opponent. He comes out, starts trash talking, looks for his openings and begins picking his opponent apart with his unorthodox but accurate and effective striking and if the fight happens to go to the ground, well, he’s certainly okay with that too.
Strikeforce’s latest showcase in San Diego, California last night put its stamp down in the Sunshine State. In the wake of recent tragedies, a Japanese submission machine took on one of the sport’s most colorful personalities as a message to stay strong to his native homeland. A fighter steps in on short notice to challenge a former champion in the hopes of regaining success under one of the largest promotions in the world. Two lightweights meet again in a rematch from their former PRIDE days, only this time a ten-pound strap of gold and pride is on the line. In the main event, a man bearing explosive striking from across the ponds takes on the hometown champion with the goal of stealing a title. With Strikeforce cards known not to pull any punches, here’s a recap of the events that took place. Added along is a look as to who the victors might see themselves standing against sometime soon.
—MAIN CARD (Showtime)—
Main event: Strikeforce Welterweight Championship
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley: Diaz via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 4:57
Co-main event: Strikeforce Lightweight Championship
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri: Melendez via TKO (Elbows), Round 1, 3:14
Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine: MAJORITY DRAW (29-27, 28-28, 28-28), Round 3, 5:00
Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm: Aoki via Submission (Neck Crank), Round 1, 1:33
Strikeforce is set to take over Showtime this Saturday night with another full card of promising fights. Kicking off the main card, the master of flying submissions Shinya Aoki (19-5) returns to take on Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) who seeks to get back in the winner’s circle after tasting defeat for the first time back in February. UFC veteran “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1) steps in on a week’s notice to take on current DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1). The lightweight title is up for grabs when “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2) faces beloved Japanese grappler “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2). With San Diego saturated with already main-event worthy fights, British slugger “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2) hopes to get his hands on another professional title when welterweight champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) greets him in the headlining match. Capturing the title will prove Daley to be truly one of the top players of the game but with the recent tear Diaz is on, winning is easier said than done. Will it be a successful sophomore effort in Strikeforce for the lethal British brawler or will the native of “the 209” add another win to his growing streak? Let’s have a closer look at this match-up.
California’s most successful MMA promotion to date will make its first appearance as a Zuffa product in San Diego tomorrow night as Strikeforce presents Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley for the viewing pleasure of the mixed martial arts world. The night opens with a classic ground battle as Washington-native wrestler “Fancy Pants” Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) takes on world renowned submission expert “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (26-5) and a sure fired stand-up barn burner between Netherlands boxing machine “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1) and former UFC stand out “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1). The action will lead up to a main event between the Stockton-based welterweight champion “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) and former UFC welterweight contender “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2), but not before lightweight champion “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2) defends his title in a rematch against Japanese superstar “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2). The two warriors first met in 2006 at PRIDE: Shockwave where Melendez used his wrestling to counter the superior striking of Kawajiri on his way to a Unanimous Decision victory. Since then, both men have evolved and have seemed on a collision course ever since the announcement that Strikeforce and DREAM would be co-promoting.
San Diego, California gets its latest taste of MMA action when Strikeforce comes rolling in this Saturday night. The main card offers enough action to entertain even the more casual mixed martial arts fans, covering the full gamut with young up-and-comers, seasoned veterans, aspiring champions, and game competitors. Submission specialist Shinya Aoki (19-5) battles the always dangerous Lyle Beerbohm (15-1). Japanese wonder “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2) comes onto US soil with the goal of taking the lightweight title from “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2). In the main event, “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2) challenges current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) in a five-round battle. Within the chaos going on, former UFC superstar “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1) replaces an injured “MAK” Mike Kyle (14-8-1) to take on 205lbs. contender “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1). For Mousasi, every win gets him closer to regaining the light heavyweight title. With Jardine on the opposite end of him, Mousasi better tread carefully lest he wants to become a stepping stone to Jardine’s second change at glory.
San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center will be the site to host the second Strikeforce event, the first under the California-based company’s flagship promotion, under the Zuffa banner. The main card is stacked from top to bottom with some of the biggest names in Strikeforce including Welterweight Champion “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8), former UFC welterweight contender “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2), lightweight kingpin “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2), Japanese superstar Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2), “The Dream Catcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1), and The Ultimate Fighter alum “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1). Rounding out the star studded list is a match between Washington native wrestler “Fancy Pants” Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) and world class submission fighter “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (26-5). The match will mark the second time that the “10th Degree Black Belt of Flying Submissions” has fought in the United States in his illustrious career and will represent the continuing increase in the level of competition faced by Beerbohm. No match could better represent the increased quality of production and promotion brought by Zuffa as the opening bout of their first Strikeforce card.
The city of Uncasville will see Bellator Fighting Championships make its first stop in Connecticut tonight when the regional promotion turned national TV MMA sensation arrives for Bellator 39. Hosting the event is the Mohegan Sun and attending will be a house full of fans of the Northeast native and Bellator Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez (19-2). Alvarez will defend his title for the first time against Season 2 winner and perennial underdog contender Pat Curran (12-3). After an injury during training early last year, Curran had to sit out and recover on the side lines while Alvarez continued his reign as the promotion’s best lightweight. Now after a full recovery and months back into his training, Curran is ready to challenge the champion and looks to upset yet another fighter with the title of champion being the prize.