HOUSTON -- Soup to nuts. That was an old expression my father used to use to describe a good food special at the local diner when I was younger. Usually a full-course meal, which included a large quantity of food offered at a great price.
Bellator 149 undeniably had plenty on the menu last night (Fri., Feb. 19, 2016) from a sheer entertainment perspective, anyway, and it certainly had nuts on top of being live and free on Spike TV.
And it was only fitting that after fight week hit a fever pitch at the pre-fight press conference with Kimbo Slice telling Dada 5000 he has "baby nuts," that the main event would end mired in controversy after a Royce Gracie (14-2-3) knee strike connected to the groin of Ken Shamrock (28-16-2) inside Toyota Center.
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This, of course, following the three round bonanza of bad cardio turned in by Slice and Dada 5000, where Slice somehow survived to win by technical knockout, while Dada got carted off stretched out on a gurney after faceplanting to the canvas because of exhaustion
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Nonetheless, the highly-anticipated trilogy between the two mixed martial arts (MMA) legends, which was more than 20 years in the making, ended under questionable circumstances. Gracie connected on a knee to the groin from the clinch, then another to the head/shoulder area, Shamrock went down, then proceeded to grab his groin in pain, and Gracie rained down hammer fists until referee Jacob Mantalvo waved it off.
It was a technical knockout victory for the 49-year-old Gracie, the first-ever in his robust career, the official stoppage coming at 1:32 of the first round. Gracie is still undefeated (2-0-1) against Shamrock all-time, submitting him in their first encounter at UFC 1 (both of them fought to a draw at UFC 5).
"My first knockout, I'm stoked," an elated Gracie stated at the Bellator 149 post-fight press conference. "I'm very happy. It was my first knockout. I was telling Ken, we come from an era where there was no time limit, no weight divisions, no gloves, no rules, groin strikes were allowed, but I did not catch his groin."
There were words in the cage immediately following the stoppage as Shamrock felt he was given a raw deal and that he should've been allowed to recover.
Indeed, a clearly crestfallen Shamrock gave his take on the ending of the fight.
"I got kneed in the nuts," he said wistfully. "It is what it is. I don't know what else there is to say. I apologize to Royce and his corner because it wasn't his fault, he was doing what he had to do. I wanted this fight. It bothered me a lot because a main event, something like this, you had all those fans there they are waiting to see us end this our way and all he had to do was stop and give me a chance to recover, tuck my nuts back in and go again. That's all that had to happen. Instead, they called the fight. It was pretty clear to me."
"Lost," he continued after being asked how he was feeling. "I don't … My opinion, it's not over. I wouldn't want to win that way. Me, personally, if I hit somebody in the nuts and they went down and I knew that I hit him in the nuts I would probably put my hands up and go, 'I'm sorry,' out of reaction. Out of reaction, out of courtesy, out of reaction I would've went, 'whoa, sorry dude.' I would've given him time to get his five minutes to recover. That's what I would've done."
It doesn't look like there will be a fourth fight between the two MMA pioneers, though, as Gracie said the final chapter is "closed." Bellator president Scott Coker added that he had no further plans for the two and that they were both on "one-fight deals."
Gracie said he usually looks at fights, "like another training day just with an audience and live TV;" however, because of being out of the limelight for more than eight years now, when he stepped into the Bellator cage his heart rate was quite elevated.
"I can tell you my heart ramped up to 120 (beats per minute)," he said. "Before it was about 60 in the locker room. That sometimes worries my corner. They were like, 'wake up, get going.'" But, "Once the bell rang," he was back to normal he said.
WIth a win under his belt does he have the itch to compete again soon?
"Let me eat first," he joked. "I'm tired, I'm hungry."
It was a fitting ending to a bizarre and fun-filled night of fights. A Brazilian submission specialist who is pushing 50, winning by technical knockout for the first time in his career, two former bare-knuckle fighters fighting past the point of exhaustion to a chorus of guffaws and laughter, Dada 5000 getting carted off on a stretcher, and a controversial groin strike to put an anti-climatic bow on the ending.