Pat Curran (right) celebrates after viciously knocking out Joe Warren (left) to claim the Bellator featherweight title last night at Bellator 60 in Hammond, Indiana. Photo credit via Bellator.
Bellator 60 kickstarted Bellator Fighting Championship's sixth season last night (March 9, 2012) from the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. In typical Bellator fashion, the night ended with some serious violence.
Perhaps too much this time.
While by now, people are all talking about the brutal third round finishing sequence by Curran and the referee's "deer in the headlights" ineptitude, one must give some credit to Warren for being able to implement his gameplan of closing the distance with takedowns and some hard work in the clinch over the course of the first two rounds.
While MMAmania.com had it scored 19-19 heading into the third, Curran's corner told him he was likely down two rounds to none.
That's all "Paddy Mike" needed to hear.
Early in the third, when Warren ducked down for yet another takedown attempt, Curran was ready for him, blasting "The Baddest Man on the Planet" with a massive knee to the face that rocked him. Somehow Warren stayed standing for the next 20 seconds as Curran swarmed him with a huge flurry of unanswered blows, culminating in a pair of ridiculous uppercuts that finally sent Warren down for good.
Pat Curran is the new Bellator featherweight champion.
While the rest of the main card, which featured the Bellator season six featherweight tournament quarterfinals, wasn't quite as violent, it certainly had some entertaining moments:
Daniel Straus, a finalist fo the Bellator season four featherweight tournament, faced a stiff test in Jeremy Spoon, who entered the tournament with a spotless 12-0 record. Spoon did his best to push a hard pace and work for repeated takedowns along the fence, pressing Straus into the cage on multiple occasions, but Straus' balance was impeccable and he remained upright for almost the entirety of the contest.
The key factor in this bout was Daniel Straus' improved striking as he showcased a quick and powerful lead left hand and was mixing in some vicious inside leg kicks which connected with extreme prejudice, reverberating with a loud slap throughout the entire venue and leaving Spoon's thigh red and raw. It was more than enough for Straus to be awarded the unanimous decision victory.
Perhaps the feel-good story of the entire event, Team Curran fighter Mike Corey, an alternate who stepped in for an injured Wagnney Fabiano with one week's notice, upset one of the top tournament hopefuls Ronnie Mann with a unanimous decision victory.
Corey was hurt badly in the opening round by Mann in the stand-up portion, but the Brit was unable to finish him and Corey not only regained his senses, but completely turned the fight on its head by going to his bread and butter which was his wrestling. This wasn't basic wrestling either, Corey was extremely active from top position, looking to pass guard and hammer away with powerful punches. Mann was completely unable to get back to his feet and other than an armbar and leg lock attempt, he was not able to put forth much offense from his back which gave Corey all the momentum he needed to win the final two rounds and the fight.
Also advancing to the semifinals was Marlon Sandro, one of the most dangerous and powerful featherweights on the planet. The Brazilian proved his status by clipping 12-1 Roberto Vargas with a slick right hand and he refused to let up his onslaught, pouring on punches in the opening frame and eventually forcing Vargas to tap to a rear naked choke.
Sandro was knocked out by Pat Curran in the Bellator featherweight Summer Series finals and has made it his ultimate goal to work his way to a rematch. He'll have to win the entire tournament to earn that rematch, but if he keeps putting on performances like he did last night, he very well might be able to pull it off.
Lastly, top Brazilian prospect Alexandre "Popo" Bezerra put forth a strong showing against extremely late notice tournament opponent Kenny Foster. Foster, who was a semifinalist in the Bellator season four tournament, stepped up on 24 hours' notice when Genair da Silva failed to make weight and was removed from the tournament field.
Perhaps the late opponent switcharoo threw Bezerra off because he wasn't his usual aggressive self in the first round, although the fight certainly had its moments. The highlight of the bout was definitely late in the second round as Foster, hoping to perhaps steal the round with a takedown, was quickly reversed by "Popo," who dropped a large volume of blows from behind on the ground before locking in a rear naked choke and forcing the tap with just seconds remaining in the frame.
At the post-fight press conference, it was announced that Daniel Straus will fight Mike Corey and Marlon Sandro will fight Alexandre Bezerra in the tournament semifinals, which will take place April 6 in Windsor, Ontario Canada.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Bellator kick off it's sixth season strongly in your eyes? What was the highlight of the night for you and is there anyone in this featherweight tournament field that you believe can knock off the current champion Pat Curran?