Bellator returned to Spike TV last night (Sept. 13, 2013) with the Featherweight tournament opening round that featured Patricio Freire fighting Diego Nunes in the main event of the evening at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. The night also featured a Light Heavyweight bout between Vladimir Matyushenko and Houston Alexander.
It wasn't a perfect event, with some of the fights not living up to expectations, while others were just absolute stinkers. But, there were some highs, including Freire's stunning knockout win over Nunes.
So, About Last Night ...
'Pitbull' Friere is a monster
If you haven't checked out the GIF of his bout with Diego Nunes, I suggest you do right now. Nunes ran into Friere's fists with his hands down and was put to sleep. Friere probably doesn't ever beat Pat Curran because it's a terrible stylistic match up, but he's definitely the No. 2- or No. 3-ranked 145-pound fighter on the Bellator roster.
This was also his biggest win of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, at least on paper. Nunes had a decent run in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and is definitely a legitimate talent. It's a helluva way to make it known you're looking to win the Featherweight tournament.
Nebraska wasn't in the building.
There's not much to say about the fight between Houston Alexander and Vladimir Matyushenko. No, seriously. There really isn't. They danced around for 15 minutes with Matyushenko hitting a takedown here or there to put a stamp on the round. It was one of those bouts where even if it took place when these guys were in the primes of their careers, it still would have been terrible.
Alexander may be sold as a dangerous striker, but his stand up looked Godawful last night. He couldn't find his range and so instead he was reserved to wildly swinging. It's probably time to hang them up because I never want to see another fight as bad as that again. EVER.
Senior Circuit MMA shouldn't be a thing.
Piggy backing off the last point, the Matyushenko/Alexander fight cemented for me that there just isn't any space in MMA for a Senior Circuit, especially when the fighters weren't high level to begin with. Skills degrade overtime and last night proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that old man fighting just can't be a thing.
It's just too bad Bellator didn't find that out before they booked Quinton Jackson vs Tito Ortiz for their first pay-per-view event.
Talk about buyers remorse.
'The Silverback' goes ape ...
Justin Wilcox was getting chipped up and picked apart on his feet. Leg kick after leg kick, he was eventually forced to stalk Akop Stepanyan on one leg. Hell, one leg kick had him go head over heels in a cartwheel/front flip hybrid move that probably has Matt Hoffman thinking about doing it on a BMX bike.
But he was able to survive the crippling punishment to locking a rear naked choke. From there he squeezed until Stepanyan's head popped off. Just kidding, but Stepanyan went to sleep and Wilcox picked up the technical submission win.
Awesome comeback for a fighter literally bleeding his own blood.
- The Fabricio Guerreiro/Desmond Green fight was terrible. First time in a long time I thought featherweights just didn't perform up to expectations. Like this is one of those fights I never want to talk about again. So I won't.
- The Temecula crowd was definitely vocal. If there was a fight that sucked, they let the fighters know. And they did that often. It got to the point that Jimmy Smith acknowledged them on the broadcast and seemed to totally be on their side.
- "Rampage" was in the booth for the first round of Alexander/Matyushenko and he wasn't terrible. In fact, he made it seem like it was actually a decent fight. If only they could have kept him around for rounds two and three.
- Speaking of "Rampage," he said that he usually needs a 13-week camp to prepare for a fight and won't have it for his bout with Ortiz. For fans that doesn't understand the timing, that means the first four to five weeks are spent getting back into fight shape. It may be time for Jackson to reconsider his training methods between fights.
- Overall, not a great night for Bellator. Hopefully things improve over this ninth season.