Thumbs somewhat up for the fights, Mixed bag. BUT... thumbs OFF THE CHART for production now that they moved to Spike. The prelims on Spike.com looked the same as before but main card portion on Spike TV was as good looking as any MMA show I've ever seen. Better. Looked like $1M. Big event vibe. Jumped out of the screen at you. Wheelock and Smith are the best balanced and least bullshit content team in MMA commentary and Williams is the best ring announcer. That's been the case for the past several years but the camera work, the graphics and all that stuff is now just as good. My one quibble is fight order---title fights 1st and 3rd on a 4 fight card? What's up with that?
Best fight: Ambrose-Warren from the undercard & Curran-Patricio
Worst fight: Noe-Pertuzelli for the nonperformance by Seth, dishonorable mention to Williams-Yager for the same reason re Yager
Sub: Split it between Ambrose & Chandler
In the prelims, aging, pudgy SoCal JJ icon Cleber Luciano puts a 3 rd grinding on the much bigger, younger Mario Navarro for the UD. Informative but not thrilling. Joe Williams TKOs Jamie Yager (big hair dude from TUF few seasons back) late in the 1st off undefended wrestler marshmallow G&P. Horrible. After tying Savant Young in a knot through the first, Mike Guymon walks right into a single left hook early in the 2nd and gets knocked cold. Emmanuel Newton taps the cardio-challenged Bulgarian Atanas Djambazov in the 2nd with a rear choke and will advance in the LHW tourney vs. the *cough* winner of next week's King Mo debut fight vs, Anonymous. JJ Ambrose highly impressive battering Brian Warren, dropping him several times, and finishing with Arm In Guillotine from FG early in the 2nd. Ambrose living and training in Thailand and and it showed. Warren scrappy from his back while it lasted. Jason Lambert taps Hector Ramirez in the 1st with a straight (not cross) arm bar for the Pudgy Aging LHW Title. Aaron Miller takes the UD over Joe Camacho after 3 rounds of mostly positional grappling. Come to think of it the fight order on the undercard was sort of strange too. You would think the LHW tourney fight would have been the main.
They lead the top card with what should have been the main, Curran vs. Pitbull. Patricio shows much improved pace and defense and makes it very close, but Curran's edge in reach and accuracy is just a little too much and he takes the 48-47 SD with the LeBell brothers splitting on the winner. Some of the highest level boxing you will see in an MMA fight.
In the second LHW tourney fight, Babalu's aging jaw betrays him again as he is stunned with a pretty slow looking SBF by the not very impressive Zayats, dropped, and pounded out in the 1st. Time to hang it up.
Michael Chandler might be the best LW in MMA. He makes it look very easy wrecking heavy handed tourney winner and Judo Olympian Rick Hawn, finishing with a slam, back mount, and RNC early in the 2nd after dominating the 1st to retain the title. He seemed twice Hawn's size and better at every facet by a wide margin.
Again though, what is up with this booking? For whatever reason they choose to put the 3rd LHW tourney fight in the finishing slot and it's an abortion as Seth Petruzelli comes in hobbled by bad knees and allegedly blows one of them out worse in the fight and gets finished quickly by the much bigger and younger Jacob Noe, who does not appear to be anything special. If Mo is anywhere near healthy he should walk through this tourney with ease. There's gotta be something put in place to at least somewhat prevent guys who are in no shape to fight from getting in the ring. It's a fraud on the audience and more particularly on the bettors.
Say it again though---this is the best produced MMA I've seen.
Thumbs Way Up
Best Fight: Pat Curran vs Patricio Pitbull
Worst Fight: None
1) Featherweight Champion Pat Curran d. Patricio Pitbull by SD: I loved this fight, it started slow with both men waiting to counter punch the other, but then really picked up with each round. Back and forth both men traded winning rounds. It came down to the final round which saw Curran win. Some great striking exchanges, probably some of the best I have seen in MMA in a long time. How many times you saw a fighter losing a fight and you desperately want him to turn it on at the end of the fight and they don't? Well, Pitbull went for it and it was exciting final 45 seconds to the final round. This was a great fight to open up Bellator's debut show on Spike.
2) Light Heavyweight Tournament Quaterfinal: Mikhail Zayats d. Renato Sobral by TKO in RD1: I felt this Sobral was going to lose this fight right away. Something about Sobral looked off to me and I felt if Zayats catches him on the chin, he was done. My prediction came true in stunning fashion with a spinning back fist by Zayats. Sobral complained about early stoppage, but he was clearly out when Zayats pounded him on the ground. John McCarthy might have stopped the fight two punches too late.
3) Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler d. Rick Hawn by chokehold in RD1: This was not as competitive as I thought. I figured Hawn would give Chandler a tougher time with his Judo background and not go down easy. I was way wrong here, Chandler took Hawn down with ease and fast. It was amazing to see considering Hawn is a fromer USA Judo Olympian. Those guys do not go down that easy. Chandler put the rest of the top 155lbers are notice. Hawn still scared me with his one punch KO power. He looked like a younger Dan Henderson out there. Chandler wrestling was too much and Bellator has its new star.
4) Light Heavyweight Tournament Quaterfinal: Jacob Noe d. Seth Petruzelli by TKO in RD1: Not much too the fight as Petruzelli came in injured and further injured himself. He went down and Noe got the TKO win. What I did like was the personality profile video of Jacob Noe. It was really well done that after it aired, I was pulling for Noe to win. He seemed to have that country boy tough guy appeal that could get over if he keeps winning.
Overal Analysis: Great show and both title matches delivered. Everything was upgraded from the graphics (they already had great ones to begin with), to major sponsors (Miller Light, Dave & Busters) etc. The negative was airing the Emanuel Newton vs Atanas Djambazov Quaterfinals of the Light Heavyweight Tournament fight in highlight form and not live on the show. I understand time retrictions, but they could have easily put this on next weeks card. Just showing highlights devalues the tournament and also doesn't do anything to get winner of the fight over. Great for those who watched on Spike.com, but most important people are that casual audience to hook.
San Jose, CA
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