Bellator 66 continued the Bellator Fighting Championship's sixth season last night (April 20, 2012) from the IX Center in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a night full of violence, comebacks and upsets.
And former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez may have had the showstopper. The Philadelphia, Pa., slugger battled Japanese grappling ace Shinya Aoki in a rematch that dated back to New Year's Eve 2008 in Saitama, Japan.
Aoki was victorious way back then, but not this time. Not even close.
After deciding to stand and trade over the first two minutes, Aoki failed to connect with anything particularly powerful. But, after a pair of short inside uppercuts landed and dropped the tapout artist, it was the beginning of the end.
Alvarez cautiously threw some nice strikes from a distance once the fight went to the ground, but quickly followed up and swarmed Aoki the second he realized he was hurt, forcing both the referee and Aoki's corner to intervene. To check out a full fight recap of Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki click here. And to see the .gif of the the first round finish click here.
There was a ton of other great mixed martial arts (MMA) action from the main card posted after the jump:
Cleveland fan-favorite Brian Rogers nearly brought the house down during his introduction and came within inches of finishing his Bellator Middleweight fight against Andreas Spang on a variety of occasions, but his failure to score the stoppage came back to bite him in the second round.
Rogers was putting a beating on Spang in round two, but his hands were dropping over and over and Spang's counter left hook was finding a home nearly every time it was thrown in retaliation to the Rogers flurries.
Eventually, Spang caught Rogers with a beautiful left hand again, which dropped "The Predator" and a follow-up strike on the canvas put him down for the count.
In other middleweight action, Russian "Slava" Vasilevsky took on the combustible Brazilian Maiquel Falcao in a very intriguing contest.
Vasilvesky came out strong, taking Falcao down repeatedly after a stalemate in the stand-up and really forcing the Brazilian to play defense. He did more of the same early in the second round, but Falcao responded with a takedown of his own followed by some actual ground and pound, something Vasilevsky didn't do much at all.
In the third round, Falcao came out with a sense of urgency and nearly knocked Vasilevsky's head off with a huge flurry of strikes which put the Russian on queer street. Vasilvsky wisely used his grappling skills to survive, but they only kept him going, they didn't actually win the bout for him.
In the end, the second round was the swing round, and the judges decided unanimously with Falcao.
Woodard came out looking to slug his big power strikes, but Hawn stifled him, frustrating the Montanan with some strong clinch attacks, some stalling and even a few brief takedowns.
When the second round began, Woodard came forward way too aggressively and walked right into a huge counter right hand from Hawn which dropped the mustached mauler. Some quick ground and pound from the now former-Olympian was enough to punch "Genghis'" ticket to the finals.
Lastly, soon-to-be-father Brent Weedman took on Brazil's Thiago Michel in a hotly contest bout which featured some impressive ground work on Weedman's behalf.
Weedman held his own in the first two rounds of striking, but it was his grappling which saved the day for the Kentucky native. He took down Michel on myriad occasions and was able to repeatedly land in side control, which just so happens to be his strongest position.
Michel fought back in the third two win the round, but he was too little too late to make a difference after dropping two rounds earlier on in the night and Weedman was awarded a split decision victory to advance to the finals.
The finals match ups are: Andreas Spang vs. Maiquel Falcao at middleweight and Brent Weedman vs. Rick Hawn at lightweight. Spang and Falcao got into it in the announcement staredown, although Weedman and Hawn were much better behaved.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
How much did Alvarez raise his stock with his victory last night over Shinya Aoki? Should Aoki's corner have thrown in the towel so quickly? Who do you believe will win each tournament when it is all said and done?