TV Review: Fight Master Bellator MMA Episode 5



Brent Wilson

LAST WEEK:
Two fights happened in the round of sixteen.

THIS WEEK: Two fights will happen in the round of sixteen.

(#8) Jason Norwood (Team Joe Warren) vs. (#13) Mike Bronzoulis (Team Randy Couture)


This matchmaking still makes no sense to me. We see Joe Warren tell Norwood that he's the number eight seed, and that he has to make a pick but no other explanation is given.

Does this mean that the previous seven seeds all made their picks, but those picks are kept from the audience since the order of matches is random? I guess none of the top seven picked Bronzoulis?

Norwood (12-3) is an Army captain who is an aggressive, strong wrestler who is immediately looking to close the distance and slam his opponent. Norwood doesn't offer a lot once on top having been stood up for inactivity several times against better opposition. He also doesn't offer much on the feet apart from swinging wildly to get in close on opponent's legs.

Bronzoulis (15-5-1) is a powerful Strikeforce veteran who launches a variety of slow but crippling kicks from both sides, to the legs, body, and head. Bronzoulis can also land solid offense from the clinch and has a decent double leg to mix things up. Bronzoulis' hard but slow approach, lack of footwork, winging punches, awkward stance and low hands leave him wide open for counterstrikes, leading to close, and sometimes low volume tit for tat contests.

I favor Bronzoulis here, he's bigger, stronger and more well-rounded with Norwood lacking the striking to keep up with Bronzoulis. Norwood's chance is to use his wrestling to stay on top of Bronzoulis and ride the fight out.

ROUND ONE

Bronzoulis fires a hard leg kick right off the bat and Norwood tries to catch it, pushing Bronzoulis back against the cage. After ninety seconds of fighting for grips Norwood is able to connect his hands and slams Bronzoulis down. Bronzoulis gives his back to get back to his feet which succeeds.

The last two and a half minutes of the round is Norwood grinding Bronzoulis against the cage working for another takedown. Norwood's lack of offense and Bronzoulis' tendency to let his opponent dictate the pace is resulting in a fight that I will be charitable and call "horrible".

Every judge in the world is going to give Norwood that round for his control against the fence but I have it 10-10. No one landed any effective offense, being ineffective in securing or utilizing takedowns does not score any points in my book.

ROUND TWO

Bronzoulis opens with a couple kicks from either side looking to throw power. Norwood doesn't need none o' that and again shoots in, pressing Bronzoulis to the cage. Bronzoulis grabs the cage to defend a takedown, he should have had a point taken away for something that blatant. Norwood eventually gets Bronzoulis down but he's right back up.

Whenever Bronzoulis is able to create distance he's throwing heavy, plodding shots, looking for the knockout. Most miss, but a hard overhand right lands as does a nice knee to the face from the plumb. Norwood is right back on his legs.

Back at distance and the grind is wearing on Norwood. He eats a HUGE right haymaker to the body. A couple jabs and hard shots from both hands. Bronzoulis easily stuffs a shot and Norwood may be in trouble. Bronzoulis lands more hands and Norwood is careening backwards trying to stay away. GIGANTIC TELEGRAPHED SLOW SPINNING BACK KICK TO THE GUTS~! Norwood has to respond with a desperation shot and survives the round.

Easily Bronzoulis' round. I don't know if Norwood has enough to last a third round. I have the fight 20-19 for Bronzoulis, but since I thought he should have had a point taken away for his handful of fence grabs the majority draw handed out by the judges is just.

ROUND THREE

Bronzoulis bullies Norwood back to the fence as Norwood backs away from some dirty boxing. With his back pinned against the fence he's an easy mark for a HUUUUGE right hand that drops him. Bronzoulis adds some perfunctory right hands on the ground and he advances.

Winner: Mike Bronzoulis by TKO (Punches) at 0:13 - R3

Bronzoulis has real power in both hands and feet and has much more potential than the one dimensional Norwood. The issue preventing Bronzoulis from being a big-time prospect is his powerful strikes are often slow, plodding and telegraphed and he often lets his opponents dictate where the fights take place, letting lesser fighters drag him into close encounters.

(#12) Ismael Gonzalez (Team Warren) vs. (#16) Joe Williams (Team Frank Shamrock)

Alright...now I really don't understand the matchmaking. Did I miss something? WHAT IS HAPPENING? I guess that none of the previous eleven fighters picked either the twelfth or sixteenth seed to fight? WHY IS NONE OF THIS EXPLAINED?!

Gonzalez (6-10-2) is a California cop rhR fights with a Tae Kwon do background with his variety of hard kicks being by far his strongest attribute. Unfortunately, Gonzalez doesn't bring a ton of other top-level skills to the table, backing his kicks up with flurries of arm punches and his defensive wrestling and grappling games each being huge liabilities.

Williams (9-1) wrestled at Michigan State and has transferred that excellent wrestling base to MMA, Williams is relentless once he has a hold of his opponent displaying strong chain wrestling and explosiveness to finish takedown attempts. The rest of his game is improving but still very much a work in progress, Williams isn't lost on the feet but is still very raw, on the ground Williams doesn't throw shots with conviction and too often allows opponents to get back to their feet, not yet having the grappling to punish those that give up position to try and stand.

Given that he's the eleventh seed, I'm guessing Gonzalez had to take this fight by default as it's not a good match-up for him. Williams is the sixteenth seed since he lost his opening round fight, but his wrestling and athleticism make him a much better prospect than several of the fighters who won. I just see Williams easily controlling Gonzalez. As we just saw though, a striker can eventually make a one-dimensional wrestler pay.

ROUND ONE

Williams ducks in and easily turns the corner on the single leg attempt. Williams lands some pawing shots but mainly is just controlling Gonzalez from half guard. Williams is eventually able to pass to side and stays tightly locked to Gonzalez. Williams begins to try landing knee strikes to the body from side.

Frank Shamrock, master troll: "ISMAEL, I THINK YOU'RE LOSING! ISMAEL, I THINK YOU'RE LOSING!"

Williams rides out the round on top. He doesn't land anything big but he maintains control and lands constant short shots to the body and head. 10-9 Williams.

ROUND TWO

Gonzalez is trying to keep Williams at bay by establishing his jab and threatening with leg kicks. After eating the kick Williams decides to just bull straight forward and easily drops Gonzalez to his back with a double leg and passes straight to mount. Joe Warren is beyond frustrated at Gonzalez inability to create any movement at all.

Joe Warren, angry master strategist: "ISMAEL! C'MON!"

Frank Shamrock, master troll: "Don't worry Joe, Warren is not a good enough coach to teach Ismael how to get up from this position."

Williams isolates an arm and locks up an arm-triangle from full mount. You need a hell of a squeeze to finish it from mount, and it doesn't look that tight.

....Never mind, Gonzalez taps.

Winner: Joe Williams by Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) 1:57 - R2


Williams is an excellent wrestler and has a little bit of grappling as well. That was enough to take advantage of Gonzalez' ginormous holes in his game, but Williams is still fairly raw and struggles against stronger, well-rounded opponents.

TEAM SUMMARY
  • Team Randy Couture: 2-0 with #5 Cole Williams and #13 Mike Bronzoulis advancing. Still to fight: #2 Cristiano Souza and #4 AJ Matthews.
  • Team Frank Shamrock: 2-1 with #3 Chris Lozano and #16 Joe Williams advancing and #10 Mike Dubois losing. Still to fight: #9 Jason Barnes.
  • Team Greg Jackson: 0-1 with #14 Bryan Travers losing. Still to fight: #1 Joe Riggs, #6 Tim Welch, and #7 Eric Bradley.
  • Team Joe Warren: 0-2 with both #8 Jason Norwood and #12 Ismael Gonzalez losing tonight. Don't worry Joe you still have #11 Evan Cutts and #15 Eric Scallan!
NEXT WEEK: Jackson's #6 Tim Welch vs. Shamrock's #9 Nick Barnes and overall number one seed Team Jackson's Joe Riggs fights....someone as my DVR cuts out. I'm going to guess Eric Scallan.

Maybe I'm getting older, but watching two mid-level fighters fight in an empty gym with yelling coaches is getting old. Shamrock and Warren yelling wacky stuff was alright, everything else was fairly meh.

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