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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
MARCH 28, 2014
LIVE FROM WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH
-Quick to the first matchup of the night, with Brett Cooper taking on Kendall Grove.
FIGHT ONE: BRETT COOPER VS. KENDALL GROVE (MIDDLEWEIGHT TOURNEY SEMIFINAL)
ROUND ONE: Cooper closed distance early as Grove threw leg kicks. Grove threw a couple of strikes. Cooper landed a solid left hook. He landed a hard leg kick that buckled Grove's leg, but Grove recovered, grabbed a body lock, and took Cooper down. Grove tried to take Cooper's back as Cooper tried to get up. Grove pulled him back though and go both hooks in. Grove was in an awkward position up against the cage, though, and didn't have a ton of space. Cooper tried to turn over to get top position but Grove regained back mount. He landed some hard punches and sat back again. Grove lost a hook, but continued working in the position. Cooper continued defending, throwing punches behind him attempting to disrupt Grove's work. Grove grabbed a body triangle to improve his hold. Grove tried to grab the neck crank to set up the choke but Cooper did a good job defending. Grove continued holding position but couldn't score the submission. He landed some big strikes with the body triangle locked on and moved to mount. Cooper managed to survive to the bell, but that could have been stopped easy there at the end.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Grove. Very close to a 10-8 with the final 30 seconds of that round, as Grove came close to stopping it. Now we have to see if he has anything left in the tank.
ROUND TWO: Cooper landed a few big strikes early and drove Grove back to the cage. Grove pressed him off. He ducked under a big strike. Grove landed a leg kick. Cooper missed a strike and Grove shot in. Cooper held off the attempt and separated. Grove got through with a nice straight right. Cooper connected on a right hook in an exchange. Grove moved in and landed a vicious knee in the Thai clinch. Grove landed a hard right hand. Cooper landed an uppercut as he got in close and Grove grabbed a clinch. Cooper backed away. Grove threw out a straight kick that didn't find a home. Grove landed a couple of strikes. Cooper fired back but Grove covered up. Grove landed a couple of nice knees and Cooper fired back a left hook. Cooper then knocked Grove down with a right hand. He started wailing with strikes on the ground in a ridiculous flurry. Grove tried to cover up and did so for the first five seconds, but a few started getting through to the button and as the flurry continued Grove went out. Brutal finish.
WINNER: Cooper via KO at 3:33 of the second round
STAR RATING: (***-) Exciting fight. Cooper got saved by the bell and arguably could have been stopped in the first round; instead, he came back strong, and delivered a brutal flurry on the ground after scoring that knockdown and he put Grove out. He's lucky he was allowed to continue there.
FIGHT TWO: DESMOND GREEN VS. WILL MARTINEZ (FEATHERWEIGHT TOURNEY SEMIFINAL)
ROUND ONE: Green worked from the outside early, mixing in kicks and punches. He scored a takedown a minute and a half in, but Martinez got back to his feet. Green landed a strike on the release. Martinez got in with a hard right hand. Greent fired back and scored a takedown, but Martinez again got up. They traded strikes. Martinez took a strike to the eye and noticeably grabbed at it, but he kept moving. They traded strikes again, Green slightly getting the edge. Martinez moved forward and landed a couple of strikes. Green shot in again and scored a takedown into Martinez's guard. Green postured up for a strike and Martinez tried to kick Green off. Martinez landed a strike from his back. He didn't give Green much space, but Green landed a right. He stood up, but ate an upkick from Martinez. Green dropped back into guard, riding out the round to the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Green. Close in the striking, but Green's grappling gets him the edge.
ROUND TWO: They traded strikes early in the round. Green landed a solid strike, but he got knocked off balance by a couple of strikes from Martinez. Green shot in, but Martinez did a nice job defending. Green got his back standing and landed some knees to the thigh as he worked to drag him down. Martinez defended well, though, and kept on his feet. More knees from Green to the thigh as he held the position. Green picked Martinez up and slammed him down, but Martinez quickly turned back to get the butterfly guard. Martinez rolled for an armbar, but Green quickly got free. He continued to work in the guard, though not much was done overall. Still, Green managed to hold position again until the bell. This isn't the most exciting fight by any stretch.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Green. This isn't really that fun to watch, but Green's doing enough to get the rounds.
ROUND THREE: Green landed a hard strike early in the round and Martinez went to a knee briefly. Could have slipped on that one. Martinez oddly backed to the fence and they just stood off. Green landed a left but didn't want to fully engage. He backed out and made Martinez come back out. Green landed a hard left. Green landed a hard right hand and Martinez was hurt, but he backed off. Martinez recovered and walked forward. More tentative action. Green got in a couple strikes. Martinez landed a leg kick. They traded strikes, though neither landed flush. Martinez connected on a short left hook. The crowd booed as nothing much was happening. Martinez then landed a left hook. Green shot in and got stuffed. Martinez sprawled and grabbed a headlock, but eventually let Green up. Martinez threw a left to the body. Green shot in and scored a takedown with some strikes to end the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Green. Just not a good fight there. Martinez had no urgency that round whatsoever.
WINNER: Green via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
STAR RATING: (*) Just not an enjoyable fight. So much inaction overall, and Green just hasn't proven himself to be an entertaining fighter. He's good enough to grind out wins, but it doesn't make for an enjoyable viewing experience.
FIGHT THREE: DANIEL WEICHEL VS. MATT BESSETTE (FEATHERWEIGHT TOURNEY SEMIFINAL)
ROUND ONE: Weichel took the center and looked to engage early, though neither threw anything for the first half minute. they traded kicks and a brief clinch then went back to a standoff. Weichel caught a kick but couldn't land the counter. He caught another and sent Bessette down, landing a couple of strikes as he dropped into his guard. Bessette landed a couple of strikes from his back as he tried to employ a high guard. Weichel stood and landed a few strikes before dropping back into Bessette's guard. Weichel got in a couple of hammerfists, avoiding an upkick attempt and holding position. Weichel stood again, but dropped back in quickly. Weichel passed to half guard, but Bessette got the butterfly back and got to guard. Weichel landed some more strikes from the top. Bessette continued defending off his back. Weichel eventually passed and went for an arm, but lost position, allowing Bessette to stand. Bessette tossed out some strikes but had most of the blocked. Weichel landed a hard knee and grabbed a front headlock. Bessette got his head out and landed a few knees in the clinch before the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Weichel. He did more than enough to take that round, but there wasn't a ton to it overall.
ROUND TWO: Weichel landed an early jab. Bessette tossed out a kick to the body. They traded some strikes, though the action was tentative. Weichel caught a kick and shoved Bessette to the ground, but he allowed him to get back up. Bessette landed a nice counter-uppercut, but ate a return strike. They both missed a few strikes. Bessette connected on a couple of strikes. Weichel landed a right. They clinched and traded knees in the center. Bessette landed a kick to the body. He got in another. Bessette landed a nice right hook. Bessette continued getting his strikes off first. Weichel caught a kick and missed a big right hook. Bessette landed another body kick. Weichel lande a left. They traded punches. Bessette landed a right. Weichel landed a knee. Weichel tripped him up briefly but Bessette immediately got up. He came in and landed a few knees in a brief clinch. Bessette connected on a right. Bessette got inside with a leg kick. Bessette tossed out a few strikes which were blocked.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Bessette. I think he evened things up that round. Had the better of the striking exchanges.
ROUND THREE: Bessette pressed in early and threw out several strikes. Weichel got stuffed on a takedown attempt, but landed a hard knee in close. They traded strikes in the center. Weichel landed a good right. Bessette connected on a right in an exchange. Bessette got tripped up and Weichel took top position. Weichel passed to half guard. Bessette regained guard. Weichel continued to work from the top and passed to half guard briefly. The battle continued and Bessette regained guard. He tried for an arm, but Weichel defended well and kept position. Weichel got to half guard again and landed some strikes before losing position. Bessette tried to get to his feet late and Weichel landed a few strikes.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Bessette. The ground work is going to give him the round here.
WINNER: Weichel via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
STAR RATING: (**-) Slightly better than the last fight, but not by that much. Weichel vs. Green is really not that appealing as a Bellator featherweight final given the other guys in the title mix right now.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FOUR: ALEXANDER SHLEMENKO VS. BRENNAN WARD (MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUND ONE: Ward circled around the outside. The each missed a couple of strikes. Ward got in with a right hand and a knee in a clinch. Ward shot in and got stuffed. He landed a right hand. Ward landed a spinning kick to the body. Shlemenko unleashed a vicious kick to the body. He landed a two punch combo. Ward grabbed a leg and briefly got Shlemenko to the ground, but the Champ popped up and landed a two punch combo. Ward landed a knee to the groin and Shlemenko was given recovery time. They restarted and Shlemenko landed a big left counter. He landed a knee as Ward came in, but Ward snuck around to Shlemenko's back and tried to grab a neck crank. Shlemenko got loose at the midway point and they sat there. John McCarthy told them both to work and then stood them up. Shlemenko landed a hard body kick, but ate a left hand to the jaw. He's leaving himself open for counters. He landed a big left, but Ward shot in. He again snuck in behind and took Shlemenko's back, this time getting a body lock. Shlemenko defended well, but Ward continued trying to work. Shlemenko didn't give Ward much room in that position, but the round wound down with Ward in the advantageous hold.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Ward. Shlemenko's getting way too wild, and though he's doing damage when he lands flush, he's left himself open for counters and given up positions on the ground.
ROUND TWO: Shlemenko came out aggressive with strikes. He got in some body strikes, but Ward fired back. More body strikes from Shlemenko. Ward got in a couple of strikes. They clinched and Shlemenko almost tripped Ward. He landed a left. Another hard kick to the body from the Champ. Shlemenko landed another hard kick. Ward shot in, but Shlemenko latched on a front choke and Ward tapped! That came out of freaking nowhere!
WINNER: Shlemenko via submission (ten finger guillotine choke) at 1:22 of the second round
STAR RATING: (***) Really nice title fight. Ward gave Shlemenko a fight, even winning that opening round, and then Shlemenko found that choke out of thin air in the second round. Fantastic finish for Shlemenko, and yet another stoppage win. Really nice fight after two really subpar bouts leading into it.
-Thanks for joining us tonight, we'll be back tomorrow night with live round by round coverage of World Series of Fighting 9 on NBC Sports Network!
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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