Bellator 46, which aired from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida last night (June 25, 2011), is officially in the books. The special "Summer Series" featherweight tournament kicked off with a bang as fans were treated to fantastic knockouts, thrilling back-and-forth fights and some beautiful (and rare) submissions.
The headlining bout of the evening was a tough match-up between two serious Bellator veterans. Luis Palomino had participated in the first ever Bellator featherweight tournament, fighting at Bellator 1 and losing a split decision. He'd fought for the promotion several times since and was hoping to earn some redemption but he ran into the freight train that is Pat Curran, the Bellator season two lightweight tournament champion. Curran dropped 10 lbs. to make featherweight and he looked like a world-beater.
The Chicago native patiently waited in the middle of the cage, stalking Palomino and waiting to land the big counter strike. He finally got his opportunity around the midway point of the first round, landing a huge right hand that staggered "Baboon" and sent him to the canvas. Instead of pouncing on the scrappy fighter with ground and pound, Curran immediately began looking for submissions.
When a D'arce choke attempt failed, the former lightweight title challenger latched on a Peruvian necktie and forced the tap with over a minute remaining in the fight. It was a perfect capper to what had been a fantastic night of fights.
More on the Bellator "Summer Series" debut after the jump.
Former Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro was expected to be a tournament favorite as he made his debut in the United States and he was given a very tough fight by the upstart Brazilian Genair da Silva. The story of much of this fight was Sandro stalking his prey from the center of the cage and looking to land the same type of thundering bomb that awarded him three consecutive knockouts in his last three victories while da Silva danced around the edge of the cage looking to do some "hit and run" tactics.
Both men were successful with their strategies and it led to some wild exchanges. Sandro hurt da Silva with a big combination near the end of the first round but the scrappy Brazilian survived his onslaught and even got back to his feet.
Da Silva began turning it on as the fight entered the later stages, but it wasn't enough to sway the judges as Sandro pulled out a close split decision victory. It was a tremendous performance by both fighters and Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney stated that Da Silva would certainly be back with the promotion soon after putting on such a great show in a losing effort.
Nazareno Malegarie was an Argentinian standout who entered the Bellator season four featherweight tournament with a 19-0 record. He fought eventual finalist Daniel Straus to a tough split decision loss in one of 2011's best fights and he stepped up and put on a show against Power MMA fighter Jacob Devree.
Devree controlled portions of the stand-up and used his strong wrestling to try to win scrambles on the ground but Malegarie was relentless with his submission attempts. The Argentinian opened all three rounds with a deep guillotine attempt, which appeared to be his "go-to" move. Devree slipped out of it after much effort in the first two rounds and tried to do damage from top position.
In the third, Malegarie latched the guillotine on even tighter than before and instantly passed to mount in top position with the choke still locked in. There was no escape for Devree this time and he was forced to tap or lose consciousness. Malegarie made a lot of fans with his relentless pace and his constant attempts to finish the fight. Keep an eye on this kid.
The opening bout of the televised card was a barn-burner of a featherweight fight between Ronnie Mann and Adam Schindler. Both men swung for the fences, pounding each other with leg kicks, body kicks, head kicks and heavy punches.
While the exchanges were relatively even in the beginning of the fight, Mann, the British standout prospect began to get the better of the striking. Eventually, he tagged Schindler with a beautiful uppercut / left hook combination that dropped the American. "Kid Ninja" immediately pounced on him with ground and pound and found a home with repeated hammerstrikes that put Schindler out for good.
Ronnie Mann was a fighter more known for his grappling, but it was obvious that all the time he's spent with Shawn Tompkins has been paying off as his striking looked very crisp last night. He'll definitely be a force in this tournament.
In the post-fight press conference, Bjorn Rebney announced that the next matchups for Bellator 47 would be Ronnie Mann vs. Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro vs. Nazareno Malagarie. On top of a fascinating featherweight title fight between champion Joe Warren and upstart Patricio Freire, the show next month is looking very, very exciting.
For complete Bellator 46 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights click here.