Bellator 57 took place last night (November 12, 2011) from Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario. After a brief bye week, the upstart promotion held two tournament final fights on the same night.
The main event of the evening was a welterweight showdown between former MFC welterweight champion Douglas Lima, who vacated his title to sign with Bellator and UFC castout Ben Saunders, who'd been a destructive force ever since receiving his walking papers from the promotion. Someone's momentum would have to be halted.
Unfortunately for Saunders, it would be his.
Both men battled in a first round spent primarily in the clinch where both men were separated by the referee on multiple occasions. Things got very interesting with about 30 seconds left in the frame when Lima caught a kick and went for a takedown but got reversed into full mount by "Killa B" and was forced to eat some elbows, which are legal in Bellator tournament finals.
Things looked like they were off to a similar start in round two with more clinch work and another separation but out of nowhere, Lima avoided a lead left and blasted Saunders with a huge right hand, similar to his knockout of Chris Lozano in the semifinals. The Muay Thai specialist went down hard and after some swarming ground and pound, it was all over.
Douglas Lima is the Bellator season 5 welterweight tournament champion. He was awarded the $100,000 check as well as a title shot against Ben Askren, who recently squeaked by Jay Hieron with a split decision to retain his title.
The rest of the main card featured some more thrilling Bellator moments as well.
Despite having terrific ground skills, this fight was contested primarily on the feet, and while Vianna was coming off a highlight reel knockout of Bryan Baker in his last fight, he simply didn't have the technical prowess to be able to stand and trade with "Storm" Shlemenko for three straight rounds.
Shlemenko was on the attack for the entire fight, forcing Vianna to back up for nearly fifteen straight minutes. Neither man landing anything truly significant, but the Russian's aggression was enough to earn him a pretty lop-sided unanimous decision victory. Most men wouldn't be very excited to be taking on Hector Lombard in their next fight, but the Russian seemed delighted. We'll see how he feels about it next year when the fight goes down.
In light heavyweight tournament qualifier action, Roger Hollett and John Hawk battled for fifteen minutes to a rather dull decision. Hollett was the aggressor in round one but he found himself victim of a wall-and-stall attack from the larger Hawk in rounds two and three.
Thankfully, the judges awarded Hollett with the decision as Hawk didn't provide much offense other than pinning his opponent along the fence. We'll see if the Canadian Hollett can be more exciting in the next Bellator light heavyweight tournament.
The opening bout of the main card was an absolute thriller between featherweight stud Alexandre Bezerra and UFC veteran and former Shark Fights champion Doug Evans. Evans started very strongly, nearly shutting the Brazilian's eye with a stiff left jab and then repeatedly slamming his way out of submission attempts.
First it was a guillotine, then an armbar that Evans powered out of and it looked like he was in line for a TKO victory after some nasty ground and pound that had Bezerra's face swollen up something fierce but the ever-resilient "Popo" never gave up, instead transitioning to an attack on Evans' leg and rolling him over to force the tap via ankle lock with less than a minute remaining in a blistering first round.
With the victory, Bezerra becomes one step closer to a Bellator featherweight tournament title appearance.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Do you think Shlemenko can earn his revenge against Hector Lombard? Or is he destined to be the second best middleweight in Bellator forever? How do you think Douglas Lima matches up against Ben Askren?