Bellator 39 has concluded after a night of violent finishes and brilliant game-plans from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT last night (April 2, 2011). Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez defended his title for the first time in a long overdue five-round war of attrition with challenger Pat Curran.
Somewhere, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney must be smiling.
Curran (12-4) earned his title shot after scoring three consecutive upsets over Mike Ricci, Roger Huerta and Toby Imada and he was looking to add consensus top-five fighter Eddie Alvarez to his hit list.
The challenger from Chicago took command of the center of the cage early and patiently stalked the champion, looking to counter, fighting very defensively.
Alvarez (22-2), known for his aggressive striking, had trouble scoring big punches as Curran kept his hands high. Alvarez danced around his foe for nearly two rounds, looking for openings until, in a moment of clarity, he landed a big left uppercut to Curran's exposed stomach right before the horn sounded to end the second frame.
For the remainder of the fight, Alvarez punished the challenger with big hooks and uppercuts to the body. With Curran's guard high, Alvarez confidently wound his arms all the way back before blistering the Chicagoan in the gut.
The constant barrage of attacks to the torso took their toll and Curran finally dropped his defenses. This provided opportunities for Alvarez to attack his head but "The Silent Assassin" didn't stop there. The champion continued to confuse Curran by mixing in takedown attempts and never letting up on his assault to the body.
By the end of the fifth round, Curran had slowed drastically, his face a bloody mess while the Bellator champion hardly looked out of breath. Curran's innards were probably jelly by the time the judges awarded Alvarez the unanimous decision.
Alvarez's dominant victory begs the question, can anyone outside the Zuffa umbrella offer him even a decent fight?
In the welterweight tournament, Judo Olympian Rick Hawn and former Bellator Champion "Cyborg" Lyman Good matched up in what ended up being a battle of footwork and positioning more than the expected brawl.
Hawn opened the bout very cautiously, feeling Good out and searching for an opportunity to strike. Cyborg showed patience and clever game-planning by keeping his distance, snapping the Olympian's head back with an occasional left jab and generally avoiding the inside game.
A perfectly timed uppercut from Good won him the first round but Hawn capitalized on a mistake and exposed Good's major weakness in the second. Less than a minute into the round, Hawn got inside, tripped Good and stayed on top for four straight minutes. Try as he might, the former champ clearly could not get back to his feet.
In the third, Good was on the defensive, fending off Hawn's clinches and landing backwards jabs. It was a very close round and Hawn may have sealed it with a late takedown.
The judges awarded Hawn a split decision victory and Good has no one to blame but himself for his performance in the second stanza. In a close fight, one simply cannot give away easy rounds.
Bellator scored its "YouTube" moment of the night in the lightweight semifinals match between Toby Imada and "Pitbull" Patricky Freire.
Freire showed no concern for Imada's submission game and aggressively pushed forward throwing leg and body kicks. After Imada unwisely backed straight away, Pitbull exploded forward with a massive knee that connected flush and likely shook the rafters of the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Imada was completely out on his feet after the strike, wobbling back and forth like he was performing "funky chicken" dance and the Brazilian put him out of his misery with a devastating left hand.
This marked back-to-back knockout performances for Freire against top competition and an emotional Pitbull completely broke down in his post-fight interview with announcer Jimmy Smith. Patricky admitted he'd thought about quitting the sport just a year ago and now he's just one fight away from a title shot and $100,000.
Maybe Alvarez has a suitable contender for his belt after all.
In the opening portion of the televised card, former UFC welterweight Ben Saunders made a big statement on veteran Matt Sung Lee's face. Saunders unleashed hell on Lee with his wide array of Muay Thai strikes including short punches, elbows and knees in the clinch.
Lee must be a masochist on the side because he continued to wade forward, constantly finding himself in Saunders' Muay Thai plum and on the receiving end of big elbows and knees to the face.
Despite a busted lip, cut right eye and swollen left eye, Lee came out for the third round and Saunders immediately made him regret the decision by cornering the veteran and throwing a monstrous elbow that caused so much blood to pour from the South Korean's face, one might wonder if he'd need corrective surgery. Finally, the ringside physician had seen enough and mercifully put a stop to the massacre.
Saunders looked fantastic but how will he fare in the next Bellator tournament when elbows aren't allowed for the first two rounds?
That's a wrap for us, Maniacs. Feel free to share your opinion on the Bellator 39 event in the comment section below.
For complete Bellator 39 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights, click here.