Bellator 62 continued the Bellator Fighting Championship's sixth season last night (March 23, 2012) from the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas. The original main event, a heavyweight finale between Thiago Santos and Eric Prindle was once again cancelled at the last minute, this time for good.
Thankfully, the Bellator season six lightweight tournament competitors more than made up for it, putting on a tremendous show, no one more impressive than massive underdog Lloyd Woodard in the de facto main event against Patricky "Pitbull" Freire.
"Pitbull" was expected to be a favorite to win the entire tournament after a trio of high profile 2011 knockouts, but he got more than he bargained for in the upset-minded Woodard. Both men traded knockdowns, takedowns and big strikes in a blistering back-and-forth first round which had the crowd on its feet.
In the second, Freire and Woodard exchanged heavily, but after a big knee landed for Woodard, he took the fight to the ground and latched on a Kimura. Despite Freire's best attempts to roll to safety, the Montanan finished off the hold and forced "Pitbull" to tap out in one of 2012's best fights thus far.
To check out a .gif of Woodward's arm-twisting, fight-ending submission click here.
The rest of the main card was loaded with some equally compelling finishes.
Former Bellator Welterweight tournament finalist Rick Hawn, dropping down to 155 pounds for the first time in his career, made an extremely strong impression in his bout against talented Brazilian Ricardo Tirloni.
Hawn stalked Tirloni throughout the first round, unconcerned with the bevy of leg kicks he was absorbing from the retreating Brazilian. Once he had Tirloni cornered, Hawn struck with a devastating right hand which sent Tirloni crashing to the canvas.
After following up with a flurry of ground and pound which put Tirloni's lights out, Hawn was on to the semifinals.
Also making his lightweight debut was Kentuckian Brent Weedman, who'd come up short twice in 2011 in consecutive welterweight tournaments. Weedman also made his mark, dropping opponent J.J. Ambrose within the first 30 seconds of the fight but he was unable to secure a finish in the opening round.
After nearly getting caught in a D'Arce choke in the second frame, Weedman turned the tables when Ambrose refused to release his neck and locked in a Von Flue choke from side control which caught everyone off guard and forced Ambrose to call it quits.
Lastly, in the opening bout of the main card, Thiago Michel and Rene Nazare engaged in a spirited affair which featured two distinctly different styles. Nazare, after eating some big shots early, clearly wanted to take the fight to the ground and work his world class submission game while Michel wanted to showcase his superior kickboxing attack.
Michel was able to keep the fight standing for the majority of the first round and all of the second but he got a little overconfident in the third round, seemingly attempting to coast to victory which enabled Nazare to land a big takedown and ride out the round from top position while working for strikes and even potential submission attempts.
Due to his lackadaisical third round, Michel barely ended up squeaking by with a split decision victory despite the fact that he was clearly in control for much of the fight.
During the post-fight press conference, it was announced that Michel will battle Weedman and Hawn will fight Woodard at the loaded Bellator show in Cleveland on April 20th.
For complete Bellator 62 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights click here.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by the two welterweights who dropped down? How big of an upset was Lloyd Woodard's submission of Patricky Pitbull? Who's your favorite to take home the tournament title now?