Bellator Fighting Championships returned to Hollywood, Florida last night (Nov. 9, 2012) as two tournament finalists were produced and a former champion got back on track.
In the main event of the evening, former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren took on Owen Evinger in a bantamweight contest. Warren had lost his two previous fights via vicious knockout, but he came out guns blazing against Evinger, intent on finishing 2012 with a win.
In all three rounds, Warren quickly closed the distance and looked to take Evinger to the canvas with authority, utilizing his Olympic level Greco Roman wrestling. This was a bit of a different Joe Warren, passing guard, attacking with ground and pound and even diving for submissions.
The submissions were sloppy, however, and Evinger was able to escape the armbar, arm triangle and heel hook attempts, but he was never able to capitalize on them as Warren quickly would put him right back on the ground with takedowns. Warren passed to mount on numerous occasions but couldn't posture up and do enough damage to even threaten a stoppage as the crowd got a bit restless near the end.
When it was all over, Warren easily walked away with a 30-27 unanimous decision across the board.
In the co-main event of the evening, 6'7 heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Vinicius Queiroz duked it out in very entertaining fashion. The Brazilian Queiroz tried to test his mettle on the feet early, but he was outclassed by the lanky Russian as Volkov repeatedly found a home for his straight punches and Queiroz's looping attacks came up short.
Queiroz found success with takedowns, putting Volkov on his back on multiple occasions, but Volkov shut down his offense by tying him up and the referee was quick on the draw to stand them back up.
Eventually, Volkov began utilizing his range so effectively that he was able to strike "Spartan" with impunity, scoring heavy blows and turning up the aggression. He hurt Queiroz badly near the end of the second round, but the Brazilian saved himself by scoring an emergency takedown. Inexplicably, the ref stood them up after about five seconds on the ground and then Volkov poured it on, blasting Queiroz with a heavy flurry of strikes along the fence to put him away with just one second remaining in the second round.
Volkov squared off against fellow finalist Richard Hale after delivering his post-fight speech (pictured above) and both men are slated to fight for the tournament title in December as long as they stay healthy.
In featherweight semifinal action, American wrestler Rad Martinez took on former IFL featherweight champion Wagnney Fabiano. Martinez is a wrestler at heart, but he utilized his skills in reverse to keep the fight standing and strike with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
Time and time again, Martinez scored with short combinations, getting the better of Fabiano on the feet, forcing sloppy takedown attempts from the outside and winning the positioning battle whenever a clinch was initiated.
Martinez began to loosen up as the fight wore on and he hurt Fabiano badly at the end of the third round, but the Brazilian was saved by the bell as Martinez closed in with a flurry of strikes. Martinez was easily awarded a unanimous decision in a bit of an upset.
In the opening bout of the evening, middleweights Brett Cooper and Darryl Cobb squared off. Both men were primarily strikers, but Cooper, while occasionally throwing with power on the feet, found tremendous success by exploiting Cobb's lack of high level defensive wrestling.
Cooper repeatedly took Cobb down and unloaded with heavy strikes, nearly forcing a stoppage on multiple occasions. Every time Cobb tried to get something going on the feet, he was thwarted by Cooper's offensive grappling and then pounded on the canvas. This resulted in an easy unanimous decision victory for Cooper.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Do you think Volkov or Martinez have a good shot at winning their tournament finals? What did you make of the refereeing in the Volkov fight?