COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- The Mid-America Center played host to the seventh event of Bellator's 11th season last night, and Bellator 129 was a crowd-pleasing affair for fight fans on both sides of the Missouri river.
The main event on Spike TV pitted two former UFC fighters with Iowa backgrounds against each other. Josh "The Dentist" Neer had more than just pride on the line, he came into the night as the local Victory Fighting welterweight champion, winner of his last three fights in a row.
"The Gentleman" Paul Bradley was looking to erase the sting of a loss to Nathan Coy in his last Bellator fight, and to stake his own claim on long list of fighters who want a shot at "The Phenom" Douglas Lima. He'd have to numb the drills in Neer's hands, first.
Bradley used a dominant wrestling game to achieve victory over Neer, taking him down at will and dicing up his opponent with short strikes and slicing elbows. The crowd jeered with what they perceived as a lack of action but referee "Big" John McCarthy was satisfied with Bradley's activity on the ground and declined to stand them up, earning Bradley a unanimous 30-27 decision.
He spoke to MMAmania.com after the fight:
"I was connecting on the feet pretty well, I got him with that good overhand right in the first, I give myself a six or seven (out of 10) but you can always get better. I knew Josh was tough (and) I was going to have to make it a long, tough fight for him and ground him. I cut him pretty good on the ground too, if the crowd could see it there were a couple of times his head was bouncing off the canvas. I actually turned it on because I thought he was out and he came back."
Neer was visibly unhappy with everybody involved after the fight was over and declined to speak to the press (via Zombie Prophet).
The co-main event was arguably just as strong of a selling point for the Mid-America Center, as "The Assassin" Houston Alexander thrilled fans in Council Bluffs back in April with a second-round stoppage of Matt Uhde in a swing bout just for the fans in attendance.
That earned him a return trip to Bellator and a catchweight spot on the TV card.
Alexander likes to say "Nebraska is in the building" when he gets the mic after a fight, but "Rezdog" Virgil Zwicker was looking to throw a shoutout to the 6-1-9 area code. Though longtime fighter Zwicker may be better known on the west coast, the Strikeforce veteran was ready and willing to play spoiler in the heartland of America.
The only spoiler turned out to be Alexander himself.
Referee Rob Hinds warned him not to use a headbutt after he was caught in the first round after a takedown, but Alexander either ignored the warning or lost himself in the moment, throwing another headbutt in the third round. Hinds deducted a point and a round Alexander otherwise won went down as a 9-9, resulting in a majority draw when two of three judges scored the fight 28-all.
Alexander spoke to MMAmania.com after the fight:
"I think if I hadn't gotten the point deducted I would have won. It is what it was. I thought I controlled the fight. I think my wrestling was a little better. I thought I took him down more. Even if the point got deducted, I thought wrestling counted. I guess wrestling didn't count."
Wrestling didn't count in the night's second fight either between James Terry and Andre Santos.
Terry tried to steal back a close second round with a late takedown, and got enough wrestling in the third round to make an argument, but the judges had other ideas and gave a unanimous 30-27 to Santos. The only completely dominant round for Santos was the first, and he did ring Terry's bell in the third, so it's not a terrible decision, just a surprising one at press row.
The TV broadcast kicked off with a middleweight contest and another Iowa fighter who boasts ZUFFA experience in "The Doctor" Joe Vedepo. To extend his win streak in Bellator to three in a row he needed to get the better of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) prospect Davin Clark, who was never submitted and stopped only once in his eight fights to date.
Vedepo proved that experience matters with a performance that never relented from one round to the next.
He consistently took Clark to the ground, and though Clark was able to fend off the second hook and avoid the arm under his chin, Vedepo kept grinding away until a back mount in the third round let to Clark turtling up and not showing Rob Hinds enough to let the fight continue.
The stoppage by technical knockout came at 2:27 of the third round. Zombie Prophet comes through again with the visual.
Jimmy Smith talked to Vedepo after the fight.
"It's stuff we've been working on a lot, out at Alliance. This time I made sure if I got the position I was going to keep it and pour it on. I did enough to get the win. Tonight I definitely heard (Iowa), they're always in my heart."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting preliminary action that aired exclusively on Spike.com. Check out our live streaming results RIGHT HERE to see who else made a name for themselves inside the cage at Bellator 129 in Iowa!