Last night (Oct. 18, 2013) at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bellator returned to Spike TV with the Welterweight tournament semi-finals. The card featured War Machine facing Ron Keslar on one side of the bracket, while Rick Hawn was matched up with Brent Weedman in the other semi-finals bout.
The televised portion also marked the return of Kendall Grove, who was making his Bellator debut, against Joe Vedepo. The main card was rounded out with a heavyweight bout between Eric Prindle and Peter Graham. So without further ado, let's talk about last night.
Rick Hawn's tournament to lose...
Rick Hawn's bout against Brent Weedman last night demonstrated one thing clearly: improved standup. Hawn has always had power in his hands, but he's never really showcased an ability to slip punches or control range. Last night, he did both extremely well.
He may have lost his one-punch knockout power with the move to 170 pounds, but the improvements to his footwork will pay dividends in Bellator's shallow welterweight division. And at this point, he's got to be considered the favorite to take the tournament. Just too much talent.
Goodnight Sweet Prince...
Gotta hand it to War Machine. He's such an alpha male that he refuses to tap out to submissions (.gif here). He was willing to go out on his shield instead of yield to his much more talented opponent. That's alpha male type stuff.
The loss has to be a bit uncomfortable for Bellator and Spike TV.
The entire focus of the welterweight tournament revolved around War Machine. All of the marketing was dedicated to Mr. Machine's troubled past and if he could find redemption inside the Bellator cage. The answer apparently is "no." War Machine is a talented fighter when he's setting the pace. He crashes hard when he's bullied.
Da Spyda is back...
Sorry, writing "Da Spyda" makes me feel a bit...off. The thing about Kendall Grove is that he picked up a really hard fought win last night against Joe Vedepo. It was hard fought because Grove was unable to finish a clearly outmatched opponent in Vedepo.
Grove's stand up looked good if not a bit sluggish. He has many physical advantages but can't seem to really utilize them to finish. His knees in the clinch are his biggest weapon, but he can't seem to throw them with any sort of force at all. In other words, Grove is frustrating to watch.
If he fights the way he did last night, he may have reinvented himself in the Bellator cage.
- Every time I see a promo for the Bellator pay-per-view (PPV) that involves Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson, I want to rage quit. Last night's featured them talking about how they're great friends and it's great to not have a promoter breathing down your neck. It would be effective if I hadn't heard it before.
- Jimmy Smith is quickly becoming one of my favorite MMA commentators. He's knowledgeable and doesn't really fall into moments of over-excitement.
- I wasn't sold on it at first, but I'm a fan of scoring bouts along side the announce team. Or at least the idea of doing that. I don't actually have the Bellator app on my phone. But if I did? I'd totally be scoring fights.
- Overall, solid night. It's going to be a rough go until the PPV is over, so might as well just accept it and not hold Bellator to the highest standards.