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By Rich Hansen, MMA Torch Columnist
Tonight at 8 PM EDT, live from Cleveland, Ohio and airing live on MTV2 will be Bellator 66: Aoki vs. Alvarez 2. As always, MMA Torch will be providing live coverage of tonight's Bellator show. Also on the stacked fight card will be the semifinal fights of the season six lightweight and middleweight tournaments. In the lightweight tournament, Rick Hawn will fight Lloyd Woodard, and Brent Weedman will battle Thiago Michel. And in the middleweight division, Maiquel Falcao will square off against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, and Brian Rogers will go against Andreas Spang. Spang was a late replacement for the injured Bruno Santos.
FIGHT ONE: BRENT WEEDMAN VS. THIAGO MICHEL LIGHTWEIGHT TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
ROUND ONE: The referee for this fight is Jerry Poe. Weedman has a three inch height advantage, and two inches in reach. Weedman lands a couple leg kicks early. Michel throws a left head kick and right leg kick, blocked and checked respectively. Both guys are kicking frequently, feeling each other out with the kicks. Michel with a punch, Weedman ducks under, they clinch, and Michel tosses Weedman down. Weedman tries to sweep with a whizzer, but can’t find it. Michel hip tosses Weedman, but gets reversed and Michel now has Weedman on top. Immediately to side control. Weedman’s head is stuck in a triangle from side, and Michel goes for an arm. Weedman escapes, and gets back to side control. 2 minutes left. This crowd is dead; they sound like they’re in an airport hangar which they kind of are. Michel gets back to his feet, but Weedman has his neck. Weedman throws a left, and misses, Michel escapes. Back to standing in the middle with 90 seconds left. Nice knee from the clinch by Michel, and a snap kick to the jaw. Nice by Michel there. Another nice flurry by Michel. Spinning back kick for Michel. Another snap kick by Michel, who looks good. Weedman looks a little confused. Weedman clinches and gets a takedown with 5 seconds left. 10-9 Michel
ROUND TWO: Jimmy Smith gave the first round to Weedman. Michel and Weedman are standing and trading, with neither getting the best of it. Weedman shoots a double, but Michel sprawls and looks for an anaconda choke, which he turns into a guillotine. It looks pretty tight. He’s had it for about 30 seconds now. He’s not going to submit him with this, but when he lets go he’ll be on the bottom. Yep. Side control for Weedman. 2 big knees by Weedman. Weedman is looking for mount, but Michel defends. 2 more big knees, which elicits complete silence from the audience. Michel turns, Weedman looks for a guillotine, loses it, and Michel is on top now, in full guard. Weedman is throwing punches from the bottom while Michel throws from the top. Nice ground and poind by Michel. Weedman bucking his hips, and gets out. Weedman is on top, back into side control against the cage. Another knee to the ribs by Weedman. And another. And one more for good luck. And there’s another. 10-9 Weedman. 19-19
ROUND THREE: Weedman’s right eye is almost fully closed, and Michel is going to be targeting it. Left hook by Michel. There you go. Couple of kicks to the body as well. Nice right hook left kick by Weedman. Crowd is still dead. Seriously, this is embarrassing, Cleveland. Weedman slips badly on a head kick attempt. Michel dives into guard, landing big punches to Weedman’s head before retreating to get back to standing. Weedman’s got a huge mouse. Spinning back fist by Michel to Weedman’s blind side. Weedman clinches, and presses Michel into the fence. Small knees to the thigh by Weedman, and gets a trip takedown on Michel into side control. Michel trying hard to roll away from Weedman. Michel pushes to his feet, but gave up his neck in the process. Weedman lets him go. Spinning back kick to the stomach by Michel. That hurt. Weedman presses forward. 1 minute left. Michel’s landing snap kicks pretty much at will. Weedman’s left eye is now bleeding to go along with the mouse under the right. Michel’s being more aggressive here, throwing tons of kicks. Weedman shoots a double into the cage, switches to a single. He gets it, but Michel lands on top. 10-9 Michel. 29-28 Michel The judges will give this to Weedman because he got a couple of empty takedowns in the first.
WINNER: Brent Weedman by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (**) It was there, I guess. The crowd didn’t hate it, but they sure were quiet.
FIGHT TWO: RICK HAWN VS. LLOYD WOODARD LIGHTWEIGHT TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
ROUND ONE: Woodard is two inches taller, but gives up almost 2 inches in reach. Jerry Krzys is the referee. Immediate clinch, Hawn eats a knee to the cup, but the ref missed it. They separate, and Woodard is yapping at Hawn now. Another clinch in the middle. Hawn presses Woodard into the cage. This is where Hawn wants the fight. Woodard throws hammerfists to the ribs, and Hawn has to shift position a little. Hawn’s looking for an arm drag, but can’t lock it in. Back to the fence. Stalemate. 2 minutes in. Hawn eats a knee to the groin and the ref intervenes. He missed yet another cup shot and was just separating the fighters. Nice. Woodard is taunting Hawn, trying to bait Hawn into a slugfest. Woodard drops his fists, Hawn’s not biting. Hawn ducks under a punch, shoots a double, and trips Woodard down. Judo is boss! Woodard gets back up. Woodard clinches, looks for a throw, doesn’t get it, but takes Hawn’s back. Hawn spins, and gets backed into the cage. Hawn reverses, and has Woodard against the fence. Hawn landing short knees to the thigh. While landing said knees, Krzys tells them to get busy. Herb Dean, take a bow, you’re killing the sport. They get separated. 15 seconds left. Hawn gets Woodard back into the fence. 10-9 Hawn
ROUND TWO: Woodard comes out aggressive, misses a straight right hand. Woodard charges in, and Hawn flattened him with a short right. Woodard is down hard, Hawn dives in, lands a few quick hammerfists on the ground and this fight is over. Woodard is pleading with Krzys, but that was a perfect stoppage. He went down like he was shot.
WINNER: Rick Hawn by TKO at 0:10 of the second round
STAR RATING: (**) The first fight was tedious, the KO was violent.
FIGHT THREE: MAIQUEL FALCAO VS. VYACHESLAV VASILEVSKY MIDDLEWEIGHT TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
ROUND ONE: Chad Truckovich will be the referee for this fight. Good luck, Truck. Both guys come out swinging and kicking. Slava drops Falcao at the 0:40 second mark with a big right hand, and dives into guard against the cage. Falcao seems to be okay, but he did go down hard. Falcao is looking for an armbar from the bottom. Doesn’t have it, but Slava is kind of stuck here. Back to guard after Falcao loses the arm. Falcao struggles for a minute to get back to his feet, but Slava uses his judo base to trip him back down. Falcao gets up quicker this time, but Slava presses him into the fence. Slava lands an outside trip, Falcao back up, then an inside trip and into closed full guard. Not much offense from the guard by Slava. Truckovich stands them up with 20 seconds left. Nothing happens in the last 15 seconds. 10-9 Slava
ROUND TWO: Falcao can’t find Slava in the first minute, as Slava is all over the place, and Falcao is loading up for one big punch at a time. Slava’s landing at will, but doing any real damage.Slava gets inside, gets a muay thai plum, and trips Falcao to the ground. Falcao scranbles and gets back to his feet, and drives Salva into the cage. Slava reverses and locks in a standing guillotine. He lets it go, but has double underhooks. Nice knee to the body by Slava before they separate. Cable fritzed out on me. Comes back with 20 seconds left, Falcao is on top, working to the body and head as the round ends. 10-9 Slava But I missed about 90 seconds, so don’t take that to be gospel.
ROUND THREE: Slava’s escapability has been the key to the fight so far. Jimmy Smith has it 20-18 Slava. Slava’s finding a home for that jab. Falcao tries to counter with kill shots, and one of them found a home. Slava recoils. Falcao charges in and gets a clinch. Falcao is landing rights and lefts from the inside. Nice uppercut. Slava pushes off, Falcao misses w wild hook, and Slava reengages a clinch. Nice uppercut by Slava, followed by a knee by Falcao. Slava pushes Falcao into the fence. Slava might be feeling that punch still, mire than a minute later. Slava gets a takedown, works for mount and gets it. Falcao sweeps, and now he’s on top, to half guard. Slava’s on his side on the bottom. Falcao’s trying to land short knees. 90 seconds left. Falcao needs to finish, and he’s not trying to do so, contrary to his pre-fight comments. Nice short punches to the ribs, but nothing with any power. Falcao grabs Slava’s neck, but he’s not going to get a choke from this position. He lets it go, back to standing. Slava can’t get his neck free, eats two knees, and Slava trips him to the ground. Slava on top as the fight ends. 10-9 Falcao. 29-28 Slava Easy fight to score. And dull.
WINNER: Maiquel Falcao by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
STAR RATING: (*) That was a robbery worthy of boxing. I don’t understand. Michael Williams seemed shocked as he read the scores. Vasilevsky seemed confused more than anything. And if anyone in the crowd had the ability to speak, there would have been massive booing. As to the fight itself, it sucked.
FIGHT FOUR: BRIAN ROGERS VS. ANDREAS SPANG MIDDLEWEIGHT TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
ROUND ONE: Jerry Poe is the ref for this fight. Rogers is the hometown favorite tonight. Spang shoved Rogers at the weigh in, in an attempt to get Rogers pissed off. Spang misses a spinning back fist. Low blow by Rogers. I didn’t see it, but Poe with a quick restart. Rogers lands a big flurry of punches. As Spang turned his back Rogers slipped on a head kick and Spang hooks in a rear naked choke. Rogers is standing with Spang on his back. After close to a minute, Spang lets go of the hooks but still has the position. Rogers lowering towards the mat, explodes, and lands on top. Rogers backs off. Wow, what a start. Still 3 minutes left. Rogers hits a huge right hand and a flying knee. Rogers with another flying knee but it was wild and missed by a mile. Rogers is too amped up for the hometown fans. Nice kick by Rogers. Spang with a kick, gets caught and tripped. Rogers jumps into guard and briefly gets his leg caught in a lock. He excapes, and takes Spang’s back. Doesn’t have a choke, but has a good chinlock. Spang escapes, and Rogers is too high, so Spang escapes. Spang on top now with a full minute left. Open guard. Nice right hands by Spang, Rogers closes up the guard. Another right hand slips through. Spang ends the round on top. 10-9 Spang
ROUND TWO: Jimmy Smith gave the round to Rogers, and I can see that. I tend to put more weight on near finishes, and that opening choke by Spang was on for a long time. Pace has slowed down this round, but Rogers is getting the better of it so far. Spang’s eating a lot of punches to the head. Nice three punch combo by Rogers, Spang backs up, and Rogerts attacks. Big shots by Spang who is hurt. Rogers is pacing himself here, allowing Spang to regroup. Rogers misses a wild right. Spang has recovered. Spang is eating a ton of shots this round, nice chin. Rogers with a big right hand. Spang is tough.90 seconds left. Spang lands a huge left hand out of nowhere in the middle of the cage, and it is all over. KNOCKOUT! Rogers was unconscious before he landed on the mat. The partisan crowd just went silent. Spang flipped double middles to the crowd as he celebrated.
WINNER: Andreas Spang by KO at 3:34 of the second round.
STAR RATING: (***+) That was a great fight. I am so pissed off that Spang is fighting Falcao, because Slava vs. Spang would be fun.
- Then again…. After the fight Falcao walked into the cage for a photo op. Falcao got in Spang’s face, Spang shoved Falcao, and it was on. Falcao threw a couple punches, clinched, threw a knee. Jimmy Smith had to get involved.
- Screw it. Slava should still be getting the fight.
FIGHT FIVE: EDDIE ALVAREZ VS. SHINYA AOKI
ROUND ONE: Jerry Krzys is the referee. Aoki misses a head kick early. Aoki is trying to punch to the body, going there 3 or 4 times early. Aoki shoots from a mile out, Alvarez dodges it, and Aoki has to get back to his feet. Nice right hand by Eddie. Alvarez consistently circling away from Aoki’s left side. Uppercut counter by Alvarez, and Aoki is down. Alvarez is on top and unleashing hell. The announcers are telling us Aoki’s corner has thrown in the towel, but Krzys can’t see it. Krzys giving Aoki plenty of time to recover, but there’s no way he’s getting out of this. Yep. It’s over. It wasn’t the right that dropped him which did the damage. It was the first two punches when Alvarez dove in. Alvarez is back, not that he was ever gone.
WINNER: Eddie Alvarez by TKO at 2:14 of the first round.
STAR RATING: (***-) That was disappointing for those of us who wanted to see a great back and forth fight, but it was inevitable. The power and the fury Alvarez threw with was fantastic to watch.
Follow Rich Hansen on Twitter @MMATorchRich
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