TV Review: Fight Master Bellator MMA - Riggs vs. Scallan

Joe Riggs

By Brent Wilson

Tito vs. Rampage, huh? I can't say I'm too excited, nor do I think it will do big business. But I guess it was the biggest marquee matchup they could put together. I guess?

Ben Askren is great. In every way. I can understand why some think he's boring, but I find his style and ability to chain wrestle absolutely mesmerizing. As is his ability to beat people up without seemingly landing anything. But seriously, we're here for far more heady matters. FIGHT MASTER~!

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

ROUND OF SIXTEEN: #6 Tim Welch (Team Greg Jackson) vs. #9 Nick Barnes (Team Frank Shamrock)

Barnes is Team Shamrock's fourth and final competitor with the previous three going 2-1. Jackson is not able to attend the fight and has left Welch's game plan in the hands of MMA veterans Joey Villasenor and Damacio Page.

Welch (9-4) is a fiery redhead who has already competed in the Bellator welterweight tournament, losing in the first round of the season seven tournament to Russian grappler Michail Tsarev. Welch is aggressive and strong, throwing to the body and wild looping hooks to the head with mean intentions and big power in every shot. The brawler also stands out in the clinch with mean dirty boxing and knees. Welch's aggression can work against him as he has big-time defensive wrestling and grappling issues that opponents who can survive his early onslaught can exploit.

Barnes (6-0) is a San Diego native who is one of the few untested prospects on the show and looks to be fairly athletic and aggressive. He's faced woeful competition with little to take from his wins than he can take down, outgrapple, and submit guys who hand him their neck. This fight is tough to call, Welch is more experienced and has hands made of bricks. Barnes may be more well-rounded and is very athletic. He could have the ability to take Welch down.

I think Welch's game is eminently exploitable but I'm going to favor him over the untested Barnes.


The southpaw Barnes is staying well away from Welch's power landing kicks to the legs and blows to the body while backing out from Welch's counter haymakers. Welch is trying to time Barnes' flurries and lands a clubbing overhand right. Jackson is back for the fight and his unabashed, judge-directed cheerleading is as grating as ever. Welch lands a big right hand to the body as Barnes steps in again, Barnes grimaces and is clearly hurt.

Barnes closes the distance and clinches with Welch, Welch turns away to try and escape but is easily tripped down to back control. Barnes is fighting for the choke and is very close. The choke is under the chin but Welch is able to handfight free. And again, but with Barnes' left arm still stuck under the chin Welch is in big trouble.

Barnes finally fully locks up the rear naked choke and Welch taps out.

WINNER: Nick Barnes by submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:16 of round one.

Barnes wins the exact same way he has on the regional scene, take your opponent down, get back control, lock up the rear naked. Welch had far better power and stand-up than any of Barnes' previous opponents but was still exploitable enough on the ground for Barnes to impose his will. We'll see what happens when Barnes fights a well-rounded opponent. Still, a very strong showing from Barnes.

ROUND OF SIXTEEN: #1 Joe Riggs (Team Jackson) vs. #15 Eric Scallan (Team Joe Warren)

All these years later and Riggs (39-14-1) is still only 30 years old. When things are going right for Riggs he's flashing clean Southpaw striking, big slams, and some of the nastiest ground and pound around, particularly his elbows. The issue is that that fighter has only shown up against horrible competition, against top-flight opponents Riggs has engaged in lots of boring, low volume circle fests with serious questions about his chin and guts when pressured. I think Riggs could win this competition, but that says more about this competition than it does about Riggs potential going forward.

The well-rounded Scallan (11-4) got his start in MMA training with Dustin Poirier and Tim Credeuer in Louisiana. The southpaw is light on his feet, mixing kicks and punches effectively but given his wrestling background prefers to get the fight to the mat. Scallan's wrestling is only decent however and he has had issues taking better opposition down, leading to defeats when the competition level has stepped up.

This should be Riggs' fight to win. Scallan has struggled against stronger competition and doesn't have a single stand-out skill to trouble Riggs.


Riggs comes out and takes the center of the cage but isn't throwing anything, a danger sign for him. Scallan stays at distance and fires kicks. Scallan presses Riggs to the cage and lands some light knees. Riggs is able to grab the Thai plumb and spin Scallan around. Still clinched at distance Riggs slams Scallan down into side control with a beautiful trip.

Riggs looks to isolate an arm with a possible kimura or americana attack. Scallan spins to his knees and is able to scramble free and back to the feet. Scallan ducks a Riggs punch for a perfectly timed takedown attempt, but Riggs is still able to muscle Scallan off of him. Scallan stays pressed to Riggs but can't finish takedowns.

Riggs again grabs the Thai plumb and spins Scallan off the cage, this time a knee lands cleanly straight up the middle and drops Scallan. Scallan eats a few heavy hammerfists but is rolling and looks to have his faculties about him. Riggs lands a giant shot from guard forcing Scallan to begin rolling again. Riggs ends the round landing more shots to the side of the head with Scallan stuck on his knees. Close round until Riggs landed the big knee. Riggs 10-9.


Riggs lands a gigantic leg kick as Scallan attempts to shoot. Scallan is relentless and pushes Riggs to the cage, almost taking his back. Riggs is able to step a leg across Scallan and almost tosses him. Riggs again grabs the Thai plumb and after a few knees to the body, throws Scallan down.
Scallan has active, attacking hips, but that's also allowing Riggs to sit far back, posture up and land hard, unabated shots. Scallan continues to try and roll to create movement but Riggs is stuck to him and landing quality shots the whole time.

Scallan is able to roll to his knees from side control and drives forward for another attempted double leg. Riggs is able to hit a beauty switch while landing more shots to the side of the head. Scallan rolls back to his guard and is immediately passed after attempting some sort of rubber guard. From side Riggs isolates an arm and passes all the way over securing the arm-triangle.Riggs isn't using his body correctly to lock it up and gives it up to ride out the last forty five seconds on top.

Joe Riggs takes this fight 20-18 easily.

Winner: Joe Riggs by unanimous decision (two rounds(

Riggs looked good, showing off hard, clean ground and pound, excellent defensive wrestling, sticky top control and hard knees from the clinch. He was a little passive at distance and couldn't finish available submissions but he treated Scallan the way he should.

  • 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: 3-1 with #3 Chris Lozano, #9 Nick BarnesĀ  and #16 Joe Williams advancing and #10 Mike Dubois losing.
  • Team Greg Jackson: 1-2 with #1 Joe Riggs winning and #6 Tim Welch and #14 Bryan Travers losing. Still to fight: #7 Eric Bradley.
  • Team Joe Warren: 0-3 with each of #8 Jason Norwood, #12 Ismael Gonzalez and #15 Eric Scallan losing. Warrens hopes are all down to #11 Evan Cutts.
The show continues to be two fights between mid-level guys and little else. It doesn't help that I just watched world-class tigers like Ben Askren and Michael Chandler fight as comparison.

NEXT WEEK: The last two round of sixteen match-ups we'll see if Couture can run the table and if Warren can get a win as it'll be #2 Cristiano Souza against #11 Evan Cutts. The final match-up will be #4 AJ Matthews against Greg Jackson's final fighter #7 Eric Bradley. It should be.....alright.

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