Bellator returned to Spike TV last night (Oct. 25, 2013) live from the Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, N.M., with a mixed martial arts (MMA) card that served to decide the Lightweight tournament finals. The main event featured Will Brooks facing Saad Awad in a fight that went the distance.
Brooks earned the nod from the judges and will next face Alexander Sarnavskiy, who dominated Ricardo Tirloni in the co-main event of the night. However, it seemed like this event largely went unnoticed as Bellator was dealing with the neck-breaking news that Tito Ortiz was injured and forced from the Bellator 106 pay-per-view (PPV) on Nov. 2, 2013.
However, the fights did happen last night so let's talk about them. About last night ...
Will Brooks dominates, but isn't memorable.
Brooks has a lot of physical gifts. He's incredibly dynamic and has powerful takedowns off of quick shots. He's also made a lot of improvements since his Bellator debut. He's very well-rounded and can do everything decently, though wrestling is his biggest asset.
But whenever he wins, despite dominating opponents, he just isn't all that memorable. A typical Brooks fight is one where he gets an early takedown and then stays busy enough to keep the fight grounded. He dominated Awad on the ground, but just didn't do anything I remember.
Alexander Sarnavskiy is another Russian killer
If there is one thing you can compliment Bellator on is that match maker Sam Caplan has a knack for finding the best talent offered in eastern Europe. The latest is Alexander "Tiger" Sarnavskiy, who faced Ricardo Tirloni in the co-main event of the night for the other spot in the Lightweight tournament finals.
Sarnavskiy is that rare combination of killer instinct and technique. He's got heavy hands on the feet, but also the abilitiy to finish the fight by submission on the ground. The fact that he put away a very tough Tirloni in the first round speaks volumes to his talents.
The Lightweight finals between Sarnavskiy and Brooks is actually a great match up. Brooks' wrestling could be the great equalizer against the submission game of Sarnavskiy.
"Mighty" Mo Siliga wins by submission? What?
Talk about having K-1-level submission grappling. Despite the commentary from Jimmy Smith and Shawn Wheelock, Siliga never really had a great kickboxing career. In fact, his most memorable accomplishment was probably knocking out Hong-Man Choi.
But, he proved that even in the twilight of his career, he's still able to pull out a surprising win. He faced a very game Ron Sparks and forced the submission by keylock in the first round. Surprising? Hell yes! Too bad there wasn't a prop bet for that finish.
The event that went unnoticed.
Okay, so I know that typically I'm hard on Bellator. I try and hold them to the same high standard that I hold the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) because that's how the promotion wants to be viewed. And I know that next week Bellator was expected to put on its PPV event.
But, I honestly had no clue that there were fights last night. If it wasn't for following Mike Kogan's instagram, I probably would have assumed there wasn't anything going on.
That's a problem that UFC has begun to deal with because of an insanely busy schedule. But, the difference is those cards still have the name talent to draw interest. I'm an MMA fan and try and watch as much as possible.
But, there's no reason to watch a card headlined by Brooks and Awad if Bellator doesn't bother when it comes to doing promotion.
- It was weird that the Bellator 106 PPV announcement took place after the first bout on Spike TV ended. With such an important move to free television, I figured that the show would lead off with an interview with Bellator President Bjorn Rebney.
- Bellator handled the announcement well. In the time between the conference call and the televised event, it's clear that Rebney and his staff have begun to make sense of the entire situation. The positives only exist for the fans and fighters as the promotion will be taking a huge loss on the night.
- Last point about the Bellator 106 announcement but can we all agree that we're actually getting hooked up? I had absolutely no interest in seeing a broken down Tito Ortiz face an equality beaten Quinton Jackson in a fight to relive past glory. The Eddie Alvarez / Michael Chandler fight is the match we deserve and need.
- Shaun Bunch is a talented wrestler, but doesn't have much else in his arsenal. When his wrestling failed him, he had nothing to fall back on. This is the second time that a highly touted wrestling prospect has failed against hand-picked opposition.
- I said it earlier in this piece and I'll say it again: Sam Caplan is great at scouting talent. Some of the best fights are happening every week on the Bellator "Prelims" card that is streamed on the promotion's website. If you are a fan of finishes, you should definitely be watching them.