The quarterfinals of Bellator's Season 7 Heavyweight tournament went down last night (Oct. 5, 2012) from the Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, Ind., featuring a comeback, two dominations, and an eerily familiar end to possibly the most cursed matchup in mixed martial arts (MMA) history.
The main event of the evening featured the long-awaited rematch between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos. After their first fight ended via groin shot and Santos’s weight issues scuttled the second bout, fans were looking forward to finally getting some resolution.
Some things just aren’t meant to be.
As in their first tussle, Santos immediately secured a takedown and went to work with submissions. After a failed north-south choke and a series of keylock attempts, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt went for an armbar, but Prindle managed to roll out and return to his feet, whereupon Santos attempted a guillotine.
After trying to jump guard and losing his grip in mid-air, Santos found himself on his back, where Prindle launched a picture-perfect axe kick directly to his groin. Writhing and moaning in pain, "Big Monster" was in no condition to continue, prompting the referee to disqualify Prindle and send the Brazilian through to the semifinals.
Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota are presumably watching and nodding solemnly.
As physically imposing as the 6’7" Alexander Volkov is, former Strikeforce title contender Brett Rogers came into the fight a favorite based on his big show experience and power.
Turns out those don’t mean much when you throw about a dozen punches all night.
Bafflingly, Rogers elected to spend the entire fight at range as Volkov unloaded combinations, blocking a good many with his forearms but offering nothing in return. Rogers went for maybe three takedowns over the course of 15 minutes and barely let his hands go, often turning his back to the Russian when he got tagged.
He was so inactive that Jimmy Smith scored it 30-25 for Volkov despite the latter never rocking or dropping Rogers. The judges gave him the more conventional 30-27 across the board.
Volkov looked solid in his debut and kept the streak of Russian dominance alive in teammate Alexander Shlemenko’s absence -- it will be interesting to see how far he can go with his lanky, 225-pound frame.
As impressive as Richard Hale had looked during his time in Bellator’s light heavyweight division, his ability to handle larger opponents had yet to be tested, something the 262-pound Mike Wessel looked to exploit.
The taller Hale immediately went to work at range, landing a beautiful combo that forced Wessel to shoot for a takedown. This quickly proved a mistake as "Rare Breed" took his back, got the hooks in, and pounded him out in just under eighty seconds.
I’d call that a good debut.
The evening opened with a bout between Bellator veteran Mark Holata and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitor Vinicius "Spartan" Kappke de Queiroz, who was fighting for the first time since 2010. With his knockout-heavy record and 6’7" frame, many expected the lanky Chute Boxe representative to crush Holata on the feet.
Not so much.
While Queiroz looked solid early, shrugging off a quick takedown attempt and working a stiff jab, a big left hook from Holata crumpled him, leaving him on the brink of defeat. Impressively, the Brazilian managed to survive, regain guard, and slap on a tight armbar that left Holata in agony and "Spartan" the first tournament semifinalist.
For full play-by-play and coverage of Bellator 75 click here.