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By Rich Hansen, MMA Torch Columnist
Bellator is back tonight on MTV2 for the second event of season 6. Tonight's show takes place at the Horseshoe Riverdome in Bossier City, Louisiana and feature the entire opening round of Bellator's middleweight tournament. The winner of the middleweight tournament will win $100,000 cash money (as opposed to a preloaded Visa debit card), and will earn a title shot against either middleweight champion Hector Lombard, or Season 5 middleweight tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko.
FIGHT ONE: VITOR VIANNA VS. BRIAN ROGERS
- Vianna made it to the finals of the season 5 tournament before losing to Alexander Shlemenko. Rogers lost to Shlemenko in the semi-finals of the same tournament. Depending where you look, the final line on Vianna is between -115 and -150. Rogers closed from +120 to Even. Vianna is a 2 time world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion. Rogers is a special education teacher in Ohio. Vianna and Rogers have identical 76" reaches, and Rogers is 1/2" taller.
ROUND ONE: Jason Herzog will be the referee for this fight. Rogers lands an outside leg kick early. Lots of circling follows. Rogers lands a decent left hook. Vianna ducks under and goes for a takedown. Can't get it, but has Rogers up against the fence. nice defensive base by Rogers. They disengage, and back to the middle. Rogers comes forward, but doesn't land hard. Inside leg kick by Rogers. Vianna lands a body kick, which gets caught. Rogers throws Vianna down, but backs off because he wants nothing to do with Vianna on the ground. 2 minutes left. Rogers misses with a punch, Vianna ducks under to go for a takedown, but Rogers lands on top in half-guard, and scampers to his feet as fast as possible. Vianna's bleeding a little from the hairline outside of his right eye. Doesn't look too serious. Another leg kick by Rogers.Rogers with a nice right hand that dazes Vianna. He follows up with a flying knee and Vianna is unconscious on the mat! Rogers celebrating before Jason Herzog even stopped the fight. Vianna was 100% unconscious the moment that flying knee landed. WOW!
WINNER: Brian Rogers by KO at 4:14 of round 1.
STAR RATING: (***-) The fight was fine, but that KO will be remembered at the end of the year when we're compiling our Knockout of the Year lists.
FIGHT TWO: GIVA SANTANA VS. BRUNO SANTOS
- Bruno Santana is an undefeated Brazilian fighter who relies on his top game. Giva “The Arm Collector” Santana is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. The forty year old Santana has a 17-1 record. Santana has 13 wins by armbar submission. That THAT, Ms. Rousey.
- Santana’s closing line ranges from -110 to -150. Santos closed from +120 to Even. Santana has a two inch reach advantage, and stands four inches taller.
ROUND ONE: Jason Herzog is the third man in the cage once again. Santana with a looping right hand that backs off Sntos, about 30 seconds in. That’s pretty much it for the first minute. Santana goes for a single leg in the middle of the cage, but eats a hammerfist to the head as he pushes Santos into the fence. He gets the takedown, but Santos rolls back to his feet. Nice little grappling exchange there, and we’re back to the cage. Santana lost the single leg, but has underhooks. Herzog stopped the fight? Oh, Santana ate a knee to the groin. Herzog restarts after a couple minutes in the same position. Well done, Herzog. They quickly get off the cage and back to the middle. Santos is pretty tentative here, probably because he knows how easy it would be to lose a leg an arm to Palhares Santana. Santos manages to press Giva back to the fence, but Santana reverses and pushes off. Back to the middle with a little more than a minute remaining. Dull round so far. Solid punch by Santos that backs Santana off. Nice leg kick by Santos. Santana with a big left as the round ends. 10-9 Giva Santana
ROUND TWO: Jimmy Smith gave Santana the first round on aggression. Santana going for leg kicks early, and lands a hook as well. Santos gets Santana up against the fence. I think Santos felt that hook, because he’s just resting right now. Santana gets free, and we’re back to the middle. This is a dull fight; neither fighter wants to take any chances at all. Big leg kick by Bruno Santos. Nice jab by Santos, then a lead left hook. Body kick by Santana, but Santos catches him and slams Santana. He’s not diving in, though, but he isn’t backing off either. Leg kick to the prone Santana, and another. Santana tolls forward, and he has Santos’ arm, but Santos escapes. That was really slick! Back to the middle with about 90 seconds left. Santos could have slammed Santana harder there, but he wants nothing to do with the ground. Nice leg kick again by Santos. Santana with a nice overhand right, but he gets clinched by Santos. Santos looks like he wants to go for the takedown, but constantly thinks better of it. They’re finally feeling it, both guys are throwing wild looping punches as the round ends. 10-9 Santos. 19-19.
ROUND THREE: Touch of gloves to start the third. Jimmy smith has it 19-19 as well. I knew I liked him. More action, albeit in the form of missed striking, in the first 30 seconds than there was in the entire first round. I exaggerate. Slightly. Nice kick again by Santos. Santana ducks under and gets a single leg, but can’t finish the takedown. He’s having a problem with the shorter Santos. Santana still looking for the single against the fence, but is getting punched in the head for his efforts. Discretion being the better part of valor, he backs off. Another leg kick by Santos, and Santana retreats. Weak missed leg kick by Santana. I think he’s getting tired. Santana with a lazy hook, Santos ducks under, takes Santana down, but this time he follows him down. He’d better keep his arms in tight. Santana’s rolling, looking to escape, but not having any luck. Santos passes to half-guard with 1:45 left, and stands up. He’s stalling, because he’s got the round so far. Santana rolls forward and grabs a leg, but Santos sprawls with a wide base. Back to standing with 75 seconds remaining. This fight isn’t fun to watch. Santana pressing forward wildly, but missing with every looping hook he attempts. Santos with a takedown against the fence, and then stands back up. Santana desperately wants Santos to dive into his guard. Santos stupidly does so, and he got his leg tied up! Santana is rolling, looking for the sub. He’s got it! Santos didn’t tap, and the bell rang. Wow! Santos might have cost himself the fight with that unbelievably stupid decision. I guess it’s hard to fight your nature indefinitely. That said, 10-9 Santos. 29-28 Santos.
WINNER: Bruno Santos by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (**-) Dull fight, but these things happen in MMA when you get a powerful top control guy against a submission expert. I’m not saying it was a bad fight, just dull to watch. Look at me covering my hindquarters so smoooothly.
- MTV2 airs an earlier fight between Jeremiah Riggs and Trey Houston. Houston won an exciting fight by first round armbar.
FIGHT THREE: VYACHESLAV VASILEVSKY VS. VICTOR O'DONNELL
- I’m not typing Vasilevsky a hundred times. His name is now Slava. Maybe I’ll edit it after the show ends, and you’ll never be able to prove my sloth without a screenshot. So nyah. Slava is a world sambo champion. I totally missed O’Donnell’s bio because I was busy making snarky comments on twitter.
ROUND ONE: Slava is a small middleweight. He used to fight at LHW at well under 200 pounds. He could be fighting at 170 next season. Jason Herzog starts the action. Both guys come out swinging fast, trying to claim the center of the cage for themselves. Slave gets it, and has a nice jab and straight right. Both guys are strictly boxing so far. Slava’s got solid footwork so far. O’Donnell with a nice leg kick, but misses with a hook. Slava’s looking to stick and move, but get hit in the ear for his efforts. Slava gets a llittle sloppy with his feedback and got taken down against the fence. Slava is on his but, but can’t get up as Slava gets to the fence. Slava gets to standing, presses forward, but walks into a driving double leg. O’Donnell’s on top again with Slava on his butt, sitting against the fence. O’Donnell muscles Slava to his back, full-guard. Couple of hammerfists by O’Donnell. 1 minute left and Herzog calls for a standup. Nice left by O’Donnell. Slava clinches and trips O’Donnell down. Slava’s on top, in a butterfly guard. O’Donnell gets back to his feet. Both men throw knees as the bell rings. 10-9 O’Donnell
ROUND TWO: O’Donnell comes out active, mixing kicks with punches. Nice short left by Slava, and O’Donnell crashes to the ground. Slava chases across the cage to jump on him. Lots of punishment being dished out by Slava here, but O’Donnell seems to be intelligently defending himself. O’Donnell grabs a desperation kneebar. He doesn’t have it, but Slava stops the offense immediately to defend the standing kneebar. O’Donjnell loses it, but probably was able to clear the cobwebs. Slava is unloading from his knees in an open guard position. He’s doing a good job of going to the body on the ground. O’Donnell has wrist control right now, but Slava pulls his arm free and is landing nice short punches. Just like he is on his feet, his punches are crisp and accurate. Closed guard now with 2 minutes left in the second. Right to the body by Slava as O’Donnell clings to Slava’s arms. Nice left, and another. None of these are huge, but he’s landing a lot of shots which are taking their toll. Those punches are doing their job, as Slava is landing bigger shots, and Herzog is taking a very close look. Slava gets half-guard and is really unloading now. O’Donnell’s still defending, but that’s all he’s doing now. Slava’s getting some distance now and is relentless as the bell rings. 10-8 Slava
ROUND THREE: Slava is unloading on O’Donnell. O’Donnell slowly crumples to the canvas and Slava jumps into an open guard. O’Donnell almost got finished there, but Slava clearly prefers accuracy and volume to kill shot power. O’Donnell’s taking a beating off his back against the fence here. He’s on his stomach now, and Slava is landing big right hands to O’Donnell’s ear. 3 minutes left in the round. Slava is clearly looking for Herzog to stop the fight. Slava stands up, and is landing at will. O’Donnell back to his feet, swinging blindly. This is a snuff film. O’Donnell’s left eye is shut, and his right eye is almost shut. Heart is nice, but Herzog isn’t doing his job. Slava’s picking him apart, patiently and accurately landing whatever he wants to. Big jabs, straight rights, and hooks. Slava is landing every single punch. O’Donnell’s face is a wreck. Nice combination by Slava. I have no desire to watch this anymore, it’s an unfair, cruel beating, and Jason Herzog needs to get a new job. 30 seconds left. 10-8 Slava. 29-26 Slava
WINNER: Vyacheslav Vasilevsky by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (**+) Just because it was poorly officiated didn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining for a while. I am shocked that no referee gave a 10-8 to either of Slava’s rounds. There was almost a case to be made for a 10-7 in there somewhere. So we saw bad officiating and bad judging. Fortunately, neither the incompetent judges nor the passive aggressive sadist of a referee cost Slava the chance to advance.
FIGHT FOUR: MIGUEL FALCAO VS. NORMAN PARAISY
- Falcao is a massive favorite, and the clear favorite to win this tournament. How badass would Falcao vs. Lombard be? Figures they finally get a legit middleweight, and Lombard might be heading out. Falco is between -500 and -340, while you could lay money on Paraisy anywhere from +365 to +260. Again. Shop for the best line, children.
ROUND ONE: Paraisy has a nice reach advantage. Falcao catches a kick and gets an inside trip. Half-guard, can’t quite get to mount. Full mount achieved now, but Paraisy explodes out to his feet. Falcao pushes him into the cage, but then separates. Paraisy needs to keep his distance here. Falcao presses forward, and just missed with some power shots. Falcao clinches and drives Paraisy back to the wall again. Knees by Falcao. And another. 4 or 5 knees landed against the cage here. Paraisy escapes. Paraisy with a body kick that gets caught, but Falcao can’t trip him and releases the heel. Strong outside kick by Falcao, and Paraisy responds with one of his own. Falcao isn’t as aggressive as you’d expect. Nice leg kick and a single leg by Falcao. Paraisy felt that kick. Falcao has Paraisy up against the fence again. Falcao pulls Paraisy off the cage with that same single leg, but Paraisy keeps his balance and gets back to the cage. A couple more knees by Falcao. Falcao putting his all into a takedown attempt, and gets a slam as the round ends. Falccao lands a knee a split second after the bell rings and Paraisy throws a punch well after that. Paraisy apologized, but it was likely intentional. 10-9 Falcao
ROUND TWO: We’ll see if that exchange fires up either man, because this fight needs some firing up. Huge outside leg kick by Falcao. He might not be in berserker mode, but those leg kicks are vicious. Paraisy is missing with lots of wild punches so far, but Falcao is being very patient tonight. More leg kicks from Falcao. Bug flurry and outside kick combination there by Falcao. Paraisy stalking and shoots a double. Falcao sprawls and presses Paraisy into the cage. More knees to the left thigh for Falcao here. Uppercuts buy both fighters as they disengage. 2:45 left. Another big kick to Falcao who is finally getting comfortable. Falcao is landing leg kicks at will now. Paraisy is missing more shots than Leonard Garcia at double speed. Paraisy is still coming straight forward, but isn’t landing much at all. Falcao isn’t countering off the missed punches, but doesn’t need to now that he knows the leg kicks are there. Big push kick to Paraisy’s face, and Paraisy felt that one. Falcao is just toying with him. Falcao is taunting him, dropping his hands, and here comes hell! Falcao is stalking him with his hands down, huge flurry against the cage. Paraisy gets away, but eats a big right hook. Falcao drops his hands and is arrogantly taunting Paraisy. He could have went for the finish, but is just tpying with a game Paraisy. 10-9 Falcao He could have gotten a 10-8 had he chosen too.
ROUND THREE: Falcao catches a push kick and slams Paraisy down with an inside trip. Half-guard, controlling the head and arm of Paraisy. Looking to pass to full mount near the cage. Falcao could look for an arm triangle here, but he’s a little high. Big right hands by Falcao. Back to their feet, and Falcao tags Paraisy a few more times. More right hands by Falcao. Paraisy needs to learn lateral movement. Falcao gets Paraisy down in the middle, half-guard, and has his chest pressed tight, trying to pass to mount. Almost has side control, and spins back to top position. Big right hands and hammerfists. Paraisy spins out, gets on top, and tries for a guillotine. Doesn’t last long, but Paraisy is on top now with 1:45 left. Paraisy looking for ground and pound from his knees. Closed guard now. 75 seconds left. Falcao’s got good wrist control here, and Paraisy can’t do much. Paraisy is getting flustered, and is eating hammerfists from Falcao who is flat on his own back. Paraisy doesn’t have much gas on his strikes, and Herzog stands them up with 15 seconds left. Both guys are taunting each other, and they start swinging for the fences through the ringing of the bell. 10-9 Falcao. 30-27 Falcao. They fought about 2 seconds past the bell, but then hugged it out, bro.
WINNER: Miquel Falcao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
STAR RATING: (**) Falcao was entertaining in the second round, and taunting is fun!
OK, so I was a little tough on Jason Herzog during Slava’s fight. But I’m always going to complain on the side of fighter safety. If Falcao fought an entire fight like he fought the last 2 minutes of the second round, he’d be a legitimate threat to Hector Lombard. But, he’d rather taunt than fight a full 15. Of course, if he fought like that from bell to bell, 95% of the time he wouldn’t have to go a full 15.
Tonight’s winners were Miquel Falcao, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, Brian Rogers, and Bruno Santos. I would think Falcao will face Santos in the next round, and Vasilevsky vs. Rogers. If that is the bracket, as long as Falcao makes the Finals, the tournament finale will be awesome.
Follow Rich Hansen on Twitter @MMATorchRich
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