Bellator 54 took place last night (October 15, 2011) from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With no competing Zuffa event for once, it was an opportunity for the smaller promotion to shine and boy did they.
The main event of the evening was a Bellator season five middleweight tournament semifinal match-up between aggressive strikers Alexander Shlemenko and Brian Rogers. Shlemenko held a serious experience edge with nearly five times as many fights, but Rogers entered riding a wave of momentum with a seven consecutive first round knockouts to his credit.
Rogers got the better of Shlemenko early, battering him with punches and knees and inflicting serious damage when he had him pinned against the fence. "The Predator" also took the Russian down with immaculate timing when Shlemenko attempted his crazy spinning back fist attacks.
Shlemenko would get his revenge in round two, withstanding more punishment from Rogers and landing some of his own. Shlemenko began to heat up after grabbing the back of Rogers' head and blasting him with knees. Rogers saved himself temporarily but dropping to the three point stance, but after being granted a brief reprieve, Shlemenko would go back to work with the knees to finish the job and earn an invite to the tournament finals.
The rest of the main card contained equally scintillating finishes.
The other middleweight tournament semifinal didn't last very long.
Season three finalist Bryan Baker took on top Brazilian prospect Vitor Vianna. Baker showed no respect for Vianna's game, coming in hard and aggressive with big overhand rights. He left himself exposed and Vianna countered with an overhand right of his own that clocked "The Beast" and put him down.
With Baker hurt, Vianna charged him with a soccer kick that thankfully whiffed. He followed up with hammer fists until the fight was stopped just 54 seconds into the first round. Vianna will meet Shlemenko at Bellator 58 in November.
In "Superfight" action, Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky took on UFC veteran Ryan Roberts. Roberts was the bigger man but Makovsky took him down every time he even thought about striking with him. "Fun Size" also showcased some improved striking of his own, staggering Roberts with leg kicks and combinations. Makovsky capped off his showcase fight by finishing his overmatched foe with a north-south choke from top position.
"Fun Size" will now wait for the season five Bellator bantamweight tournament to conclude before attempting to defend his title for the first time.
The opening bout of the evening was a match between hyped Brazilian jiu-jitsu prospect Rene Nazare and Jacob Kirwan. Kirwan surprised many by getting in Nazare's face and taking him down repeatedly. He had a strong enough grappling acumen that he wasn't swept and he kept the Brazilan on his back for much of the last two rounds to win a unanimous decision and earn the upset.
For complete Bellator 54 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights click here.
So did you get to catch any of the action, Maniacs?
Who impressed you the most with their performance last night on the Bellator 54 main card? Can Shlemenko make good if he earns a second crack at the title? Does Vitor Vianna have what it takes to be a champion?