Bellator Fighting Championships brought the heat last night (May 25, 2012) with Bellator 70 from the Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, La., and it was a night of solid bouts and powerful finishes.
Despite having a title fight on the card, it was the lightweights who were given main event billing at the last minute as former welterweight standouts Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman, who had dropped down to 155 pounds for the Bellator season six lightweight tournament, duked it out for a shot at $100,000 and current champion Michael Chandler.
Weedman stuck to the gameplan in the first two rounds, aggressively mixing in leg and body kicks while trying to keep utilize his length with his punches, but Hawn countered with a strong left jab and more powerful strikes. It was an extremely even first two rounds which featured primarily stand-up but also brief clinches in which Hawn would showcase his strength while Weedman tries to utilize some knees.
While the first two rounds were up in the air, Hawn seized control of the third, scoring a pair of big takedowns with trips and not being afraid to attack from within Weedman's guard, throwing big elbows and short strikes. A late flurry from Weedman couldn't undo the damage and in the end, the judges unanimously decided in Hawn's favor.
The Olympian will likely challenge for the title early in season seven. The rest of the main card featured a trio of stoppages.
The Bellator heavyweight title was on the line as champion Cole Konrad took on season five tournament winner Eric Prindle. Prindle had been awarded the shot after Thiago Santos failed to make weight in the tournament finals.
Konrad was a huge favorite and he proved it, taking down Prindle the second the former soldier attempted to throw a strike and then instantly attacking with a Kimura from within Prindle's half guard. Prindle's defense was not up to par and after Konrad locked in the hold, he grunted in pain and finally tapped out after just one minute of the first round.
In bantamweight semifinal action, Luis Nogueira took on Japanese veteran Hiroshi Nakamura for the right to battle in the tournament finals later this summer. Nakamura desperately needed a takedown to work his offensive grappling game, but Nogueira was able to fend him off on multiple occasions, even countering uniquely with leg locks and then slamming the grappler to the canvas.
Nogueira appeared to gain confidence as the fight wore on, opening up his strikes more and more as he realized how little Nakamura had for him on the feet. After lighting up the veteran in the second round, Nogueira refused to hold back in the third, dropping Nakamura with a beautiful right hook and then finishing him with big hammer strikes on the ground.
Nogueira will next battle fellow Brazilian Marcos Galvao during the summer series.
Lastly, MMA pioneer Rich Clementi battled upstart fightter Derek Campos in lightweight action. Campos was game, outstriking Clementi in the early stages of the fight but the tides turned after "No Love" got sick of the stand-up portion and took Campos down.
Once on the ground, Campos surprisingly was able to defend himself rather well, but when he exploded back to his feet, he inexplicably decided to shoot in for a takedown, leaving his neck exposed. Clementi knew exactly what he had to do, latching on a guillotine choke and not letting go until Campos had been forced to tap out twice as the referee had failed to see it initially.
Afterwards, Clementi stated that he's not done yet. The 36 year old wants to continue a late career push.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you surprised by the briefness of the heavyweight title fight? Who impressed you the most last night. How do you like Rick Hawn's chances against Michael Chandler?
For complete Bellator 70 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights as well as the main event click here.