Last night (Oct. 4, 2013), Bellator returned to Spike TV to hold its Heavyweight tournament at Visalia Convention Center in Vasilia, California. It was the promotion's 102nd event, with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Cheick Kongo fighting in the main event against Mark Godbeer.
Bellator 102 also featured UFC castoff Lavar Johnson, who made his promotional debut against Vinicius Spartan, as well as Middleweight semifinal Bantamweight tournament final mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
Without further ado, So .... about last night ...
Cheick Kongo is a super frustrating fighter to watch. Ever since he fought Heath Herring it seems like the French kickboxer fancies himself a wrestler. He refuses to engage on the feet, instead trying to clinch his way to victory. He's also been known for his fondness of the errant low blow.
Last night, he was on the receiving end of a knee to the groin. Most people on Twitter felt like it was karma paying back Kongo for all his unpenalized illegal knees. He was given his time to recover and then worked a very boring gameplan of clinching Godbeer against the fence.
He was able to finish the fight (.gif here!), but a fantastic finish doesn't make me forget about the horrible performance leading up to that point. It's going to take more than a knockout over a guy I've never heard off to get back on the Kongo line.
"Johnson" takes a "Big" nap
Bellator's entire Heavyweight tournament was designed for Kongo to meet Johnson in the finals. Johnson is known for his heavy hands, so a meeting between the two would guarantee fireworks. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, as MMA is the most unpredictable sport on the planet.
Johnson's vaunted power never came into play as Spartan was able to land one of the cleanest punches to cause a face-first plunge toward the canvas (.gif here!). I'm going to have to disagree with Bellator announcer Jimmy Smith, who stated that Johnson was quick to recover.
I saw a guy who was sleeping for several seconds before coming to after the referee waved off the fight. It was Johnson's first knockout loss. Who knows where he goes from here.
Jason Butcher does his best Nick Serra impression ...
Butcher is a self-described "Brazilian jiu-jitsu prodigy." I'm going to assume he meant that as a joke because he put on one of the absolute worst showings in the Bellator cage ever. I can't get down on this fight enough, it was honestly so bad.
However, I'll try and paint a picture for you. Butcher can't wrestle nor can he really do any damage on the feet, so whenever Mikkel Parlo attacked, he flopped to his back, begging his opponent to follow him to the ground. It never happened. Ever.
Butcher may be pretty good on the ground, but if you need to beg your opponent to fight your game, you aren't going to be successful as a fighter. He needs to work on his wrestling and stop watching Nick Serra tape from Elite XC: "Primtime," where he was disqualified for refusing to get up from his butt.
- Bellator put together its list of top 10 best knockouts in the promotion's history. One that was mysteriously absent? Pat Curran's knockout of Joe Warren. It was one of the most vicious stoppages in the promotion's history, but they just didn't want to acknowledge it.
- Power guillotines are probably my favorite type of guillotine. And the one that Brennan Ward locked up was ridiculous. Joe Pacheco was out almost immediately and Ward took home a much deserved win (.gif here!).
- The night had pretty good pacing. Spike TV's video packages really help add to the broadcast. The fights aren't contested between top fighters, so anything that can make me care really helps a ton.
- It's awesome that Rafael Souza took the Bantamweight tournament finals. He had a great fighter with Anthony Leone and his title fight with Eduardo Dantas will be really fun. And it's nice to know that the winner will face the winner of Joe Warren and Travis Marx, keeping the champions busy.