Bellator 172 "Thomson vs. Pitbull" took place last night (Sat., Feb. 18, 2017) live on Spike TV from inside SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The original main event was scratched when Matt Mitrione had a medical issue, leaving Fedor Emelianenko without an opponent.
Long in search of a Bellator title shot, Josh "The Punk" Thomson looked to take his third-straight win in the promotion in the new main event, fighting in the friendly hometown confines of San Jose. Patricky "Pitbull" Freire would try to stop that from happening and earn himself a rematch with Michael Chandler.
Thomson was content to play the outside and punish the legs of "Pitbull" with kicks, but when Freire closed the distance he landed a scintillating right at the three-minute mark. Thomson tried to no sell it when he got up but he clearly felt the sting of Freire's power. It was a sign of things to come.
The strategy for Thomson was to return to striking at range, but Freire made the range his own and knocked him down during an exchange that featured an inadvertent head butt. When Thomson tried to get back up Freire used the right hand uppercut to seal the deal and force McCarthy to wave it off at 0:40 or Round 2.
Freire spoke to Jimmy Smith following the stunning knockout win.
"For me it's a great win, beating a guy like Josh, I like him he's a nice guy. He's had big fights in his career. I'm very happy, very thankful to Scott Coker, I'm happy for all of the Bellator organization."
Whatever he had to say next about Michael Chandler was censored on the live broadcast.
British strongman Oli Thompson looked to return to his winning form after a loss in his Bellator debut last year, but nine-fight Bellator veteran Cheick Kongo stood in his way.
A close first round edged Kongo's way late as he was able to clinch up and drive a furious series of knees toward his former training partner's head. The second round was even more dominant as Kongo secured a double leg at 1:40 and never let Thompson back up.
The third round was as lopsided as the second, with Kongo never hurting Thompson enough for the finish, but getting a full mount twice during the round and not ever allowing Thompson to land a single effective strike. The judges gave Kongo what was already clear to the viewers -- a clean sweep unanimous decision of 30-26, 30-25 X2.
Long time UFC veteran Josh Koscheck looked to impress in his long-awaited Bellator MMA debut, hoping to snap a five-fight losing streak against 12-7 (1 NC) fighter Mauricio Alonso.
If Koscheck wanted his first win in over five years, tonight was not his night to get it. Having endured multiple warnings from John McCarthy to keep his hands closed, it was his opponent's right hand that closed one eye with a solid shot, and while Koscheck tried to recover his vision an uppercut laid him down and caused him to cover up and surrender.
McCarthy waved off the contest at 4:42 of the first round.
No translator was necessary for the energetic post-fight interview.
"First of all, thanks for all Bellator fans here tonight. It's amazing feeling to be fighting in this great organization. For all of you guys around the world I have a simple message. The world is full of hate. We need love, we need peace. Regardless any kind of stuff. Christians, Muslims, Jews live in peace. We have to love each other, that's the message, Jesus bring me here today to say to you. So February 17th is the day 20 years ago when I start my fighting journey. February 17th, 2011 when I move to California. February 17th when I step on scale with my heart full of will, full of desire to come here and give a big show for you."
Alonso ultimately scored the biggest win to date of his career. Meanwhile, Veta Arteaga and Brooke Mayo also found a slot on the main card's action at flyweight.
Mayo was making her pro debut in MMA and looked nervous at the start, throwing lots of kicks, but once she got a takedown her jiu-jitsu experience almost got her a rear naked choke -- almost. Arteaga escaped and out-struck her throughout the round.
Mayo had a shot at a possible decision after a second round where she scored on the outside with a lot of kicks and got a takedown which led to several submission attempts, never letting Arteaga score much offense. In the third, Arteaga lit her up on the feet, turned up on top after a takedown, and dropped so many nasty hands down the pipe that shut Mayo's left eye completely. John McCarthy took one look, called for the doctor, and he immediately stopped the fight.
Arteaga got the technical knockout win at 4:04 of the third round. An interview with Jimmy Smith followed.
"That's exactly what I like, I like somebody to give me a challenge. My hat goes off to Brooke. She definitely can take a hit and give a hit so much respect to her. Whoever Bellator wants me to fight, I will fight. If you want me to fight Anastasia I will definitely take that rematch."
"King Mo" Muhammed Lawal had an interview on the broadcast to fill some time and talk some smack about Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
"It's business, but it's personal. We're going out there like professionals, but it's personal because they cheated me last time. He really thinks he beat me, even though he asked me for a rematch, which makes no sense. So I'm gonna shut him up, I'm gonna get that victory, and move on to the next fight. Let's do Heavyweight. I'm a throwback fighter. I'll fight you at the real weight classes. At 235 ain't no weight class."
Owing to some last minute changes to the broadcast, Anatoly Tokov and Francisco France joined the card as well at a catch weight of 187 lbs. Tokov was able to fulfill the wishes of his coach Fedor Emelianenko, who vicariously enjoyed his victory via technical knockout at 2:24 of the second round.
Tokov and his translator spoke to Jimmy Smith afterward.
"Well I did not expect it would be that difficult in wrestling, and actually I was not going to give him my hand, but he manages to take it and I became really nervous. I just will be happy to be back here again and to fight here again."
Emelianenko was also given an opportunity to address the San Jose crowd.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I'm very sorry I don't have the opportunity to perform in front of you today. Matt and me, we were preparing for this fight very hard, but due to the health it happened that Matt had to be in the hospital. At the nearest time Scott will inform you for which day the fight is postponed and I hope we'll be able to deliver a great joy and happiness to you.
These bouts were paired with exciting "preliminary" action that aired exclusively online.
For complete Bellator 172 results and coverage click here.