Last night's (March 9, 2012) Bellator 60 event is in the books and now it's time to start looking towards next week, although before we do that, I wanted to dish out my final thoughts on the event.
I was fortunate enough to be cageside for the show, which took place a couple hours from me in Hammond, Indiana at the Horseshoe Casino.
Overall, I felt the event was a big success, although it definitely had its ups and downs. A new star was born, four very exciting featherweights moved on to the tournament semifinals and young promotional talent continues to take over.
Posted after the jump, I've got some assorted newsworthy tidbits taken from the press conference, talks with fighters and much, much more:
I'll start with the big news first:
- Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard can begin taking offers from outside promotions in May
While Lombard's contract with Bellator quietly expired in between seasons five and six, the promotion still has exclusive negotiating rights with him until May. After some specific date in May, other promotions like the UFC can begin throwing big money offers his way. Bellator will still have the right to match any offer by another promotion, but it will have to decide whether it will be worth the money to try to keep the 34 year old knockout machine.
If Lombard does in fact leave the promotion, Alexander Shlemenko, who won the Bellator season five middleweight tournament, will fight the winner of the Bellator season six middleweight tournament (which starts next Friday at Bellator 61) to crown a new 185-pound champion.
- Joe Warren likely suffered a very serious concussion, could very well affect his shot at the Olympics
Obviously, Warren was unable to attend the post-fight presser but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney explained the PG version to the media saying Warren was "nauseous" backstage and was sent to the emergency room. From what I heard, he wasn't just nauseous, he was vomiting pretty badly. That's one of the worst signs of a major concussion. Also, Warren had mentioned he might have broken his hand to his corner before the second round. With the Indiana State Athletic Commission likely giving him a lengthy suspension from even light contact, I have some major doubts that Warren will be able to try out for the Olympics on April 20th in Iowa City like he was originally planning.
Speaking of the stoppage...
- The referee was completely inept and should have stopped the Warren fight way sooner
My friend Gerry Rodriguez counted 35 unanswered strikes from Curran. I watched it myself and counted 42, most of them being big power shots including 6 knees. Joe Warren was turned away, practically on the ground and getting swarmed, that's when the ref should have stepped in. Instead, he allowed Warren to eat another 20 huge shots include two massive uppercuts which knocked him completely out. If there was ever a case for a standing TKO in a fight, it was this one. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney also agreed saying, "Watching it live and again on tape, yeah, it could have been stopped earlier." You can also tell exactly how Bellator felt about the stoppage by watching its "Bellator 60 Moment" on YouTube. It just so happens to cut out about 15-20 seconds of the brutal beating Curran laid on Warren before he lost consciousness. Even the promotional team thought the finishing sequence was too harrowing to be shown in its entirety.
- Bellator is growing significantly in terms of media coverage and attendance
I covered my first Bellator event in 2010, Bellator 23 in Louisville, Kentucky and they only had one table for media and about four or five guys total were there covering the show and none of them were from any major sites. For this event, there was a very large turnout even for the open media workouts on Wednesday with multiple video reporters, tons of photographers and even more writers. Some of the big names in attendance hailed from Yahoo! Sports, ESPN Chicago, the Chicago Tribune, Bleacher Report, Heavy MMA, MMA Torch and much, much more. There were four long rows of tables for the media and they were all full. This show was a much bigger deal this time around and that's a very good sign for Bellator gaining some coverage from media and recognition from the fans.
- The pacing of the main card needs to improve drastically
Others have touched on this already, but with the show starting at 8:00 p.m eastern time and the first fight was concluding just 3:35 into round one, it's very disappointing that the second fight didn't even start until about 8:40 p.m. eastern time. In my opinion, that's inexcusable. Bjorn Rebney mentioned he wanted this season to be a more streamlined package, but last night was not the start they were hoping for. There were too many commercials, the breaks were too long and there was a lot of waiting around. I would really like to see this improve as the season continues.
- Pat Curran is the prototype of the Bellator business model
Curran was a no-name fighter with a 10-3 record when he stepped up as an alternate, taking the last spot in the season two lightweight tournament. We all know what happened next, he knocked tournament favorite Mike Ricci senseless, upset former UFC contender Roger Huerta and then earned a title shot against Eddie Alvarez. Now, after dropping to featherweight and decimating everyone in his path including Ronnie Mann, Marlon Sandro and Joe Warran, I've got him ranked as the number four ranked featherweight in the world behind only Jose Aldo, Hatsu Hioki and Chad Mendes. This is a guy who's complete rise to fame has occurred in the Bellator cage and the promotion wouldn't have it any other way.
- Marlon Sandro returned to form with a dominant first round destruction, seems extra motivated
I'll admit I was beginning to have my doubts about Marlon Sandro after a tough split decision victory in the Summer Series quarterfinals, another tough unanimous decision in the semis and then getting knocked out by Curran last August. I wasn't entirely convinced he was back yet after his last fight either, a first round submission of Rafael Dias, because Sandro had been rocked pretty badly in the stand-up. Despite turning 35 the day before, he showed no signs of slowing down last night against Roberto Vargas, thoroughly dismantling him with punches and knees before choking him out in the first round. I loved his post-fight celebration with the centurian helmet reminiscent of the Bellator logo. We'll see what Sandro is made of in his next fight against fellow Brazilian Alexandre Bezerra, who's an extremely promising young talent. Bezerra is still a bit limited in his striking so this could be a favorable match-up for Sandro.
That's all the key points I had for the event.
Was there anything else that stood out to you, Maniacs? I didn't see the live broadcast on MTV 2 so maybe you guys have a unique perspective on this.
Speak up if so!