Monday, 5 August 2013

Bellator 97 on Viva - TV Review

It's time to step into the MMA world again, and with a review of UFC 163 to follow it's time to step into the rounder cage of Bellator as we take a look at the two tournament finals and the two title fights on their 97th show, shown this past Friday night on Viva here in Britain.

The broadcast began with featherweight action as Jared Downing took on Patricio Pitbull.

This was a great way to start the show. We had a brief feeling out period before Pitbulls connected with a big right and followed up with a guillotine. Downing managed to survive this particular scare as he ended up in top position, but as Pitbulls got back to his feet and Downing instigated a clinch the referee separated them due to inactivity.

Pitbull had his man in trouble again moments later when another hard blow staggered Downing. Downing tried to counter with a single leg, but when Pitbull landed again Downing tied him up against the fence and scored with the takedown as the round neared it's conclusion.

As the second round began Pitbull went back to work with his great striking, and it wasn't long before he had Downing in no end of trouble. He staggered him with numerous blows, ending the assault with a left/right combination that sent Downing crashing to the mat. The referee quickly waved the fight to give Pitbull the highly impressive TKO win.

Then it was on to the tournament action, beginning with Ryan Martinez and Vitaly Minakov in the heavyweight final.

This proved to be an intriguing battle with a rather somewhat perplexing decision from the official.

Martinez began his night's work with a guillotine attempt that Minakov managed to escape from, and from there these two engaged in a nice little striking and clinching battle. Minakov's striking looked a little more crisper than the American's, although Martinez's best blows came when they came out of the clinch.

It was pretty much the same thing in the second round, with clinches against the fence and Minakov looking the better striker once again, but when Minakov's left knee strayed south of the border the referee took a point away from the Russian, even though it was his first offence. 

But in the end that decision had no effect on the outcome of the fight. When Minakov took Martinez down in the third round he soon went to work with the ground and pound. Martinez's escape attempts consisted of him trying to sit up, so all Minakov had to do was push him back down again, and as the fight neared it's final minute and Minakov connected with a barrage of right hands the referee stepped in to give the Russian the TKO win.

The tournament action continued with Jacob Noe facing King Mo Lawal in the light heavyweight final.

The King certainly put in a dominating performance in what was more or less a one-sided battle. Most of the fight followed a similar patter, Lawal would score with the takedown and basically beat Noe up, and although it sounded quite simple it really wasn't, because if it wasn't for Lawal's wrist control he probably wouldn't have gotten in as many strikes on the ground.

As the rounds went on it was more or less obvious who was going to win. Lawal was turning Noe's face into a bloody mess, and Noe's one real moment of offence came when he briefly went for an armbar. However, it was a rather sloppy attempt and didn't really go anywhere.

The end came nearly three minutes into the final round. There was a brief standing exchange, but when Lawal took the fight to the ground again it was all of bar the shouting, and when Noe failed to respond to his barrage of blows the referee stepped in to give Lawal the TKO win.

After the big stare down between Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz it was on the penultimate fight as Andrey Koreshkov challenged Ben Askren for the Welterweight title.

This has to be one of the most one-sided fights I've seen in my ten years as an MMA fan. It was also one of the most unique.

As the fight began Koreshkov wanted to touch gloves. A second later Askren scored with the takedown and laid out the pattern for the rest of the fight. He was all over his man like the proverbial cheap suit, and the Russian just didn't seem to have any answer to Askren's rather unique style of fighting.

The mixture of wrestling and ground and pound was simply just too much for Koreshkov, and Askren's dominance was such that at one point he was able to lead the crowd in a "USA! USA!" chant. But perhaps the best sign of his dominance was when Koreshkov had to be virtually carried back to his corner after the second round. It was also a sign that perhaps his corner should have pulled him out there and then.

But they didn't, and Koreshkov lasted into the fourth round. By then he was showing the effects of Askren's ground and pound, and as the American continued his dominance he asked the referee how much more he had to do to get the stoppage. He got his answer a couple of minutes later when he took Koreshkov's back and rained in some more unanswered blows. Finally, the official had seen enough as he called the fight to give Askren the TKO win.

The main event saw David Rickels challenging Michael Chandler for the Lightweight title.

The blink and you'll miss it affair of the evening saw Rickels connecting with some well-placed kicks, but when Chandler rocked him with a left it was the beginning of the end. A further right sent Rickels crashing, and after a brief spot of ground and pound the referee stepped in to give Chandler the KO win after just 44 seconds.

With some time to spare it was on to filler material and further lightweight action as Mike Berreras faced Bubba Jenkins.

This one started off at a rather frantic pace when Jenkins came across the cage as if he'd been shot out of a cannon. A quick takedown followed, but when Berreras got back to his feet he soon pulled guard and went for a guillotine. Jenkins tried to slam his way out of the hold, but it was only when he took the mount that he managed to escape.

Jenkins then went to work with the ground and pound, but this didn't stop Berreras going for the guillotine a couple of more times, with his best chance coming in the final moments of the first round.

When round two began it looked like it would be contested in a more sedate fashion, but when Jenkins scored with the takedown again it was all over bar the shouting, and when he took his man's back and delivered an unanswered series of rights to the head the referee stepped in to give Jenkins the TKO win.

In conclusion - this was my second experience of the Bellator product, and I have to say that I was really impressed.

Each and every fight delivered, and there were some great performances all round, particularly those of King Mo and Ben Askren as they dominated their opponents. In fact it was a close run thing between these two as far as my fight of the night no-prize was concerned, but in the end I decided to give it to Askren's demolition job on Andrey Koreshkov.

I do have one small complaint about this show though. Do the on-screen graphics advertising the Fight Master show have to be so big? When they appear most of the time they actually cover up what's happening in the fights, which can be quite annoying!

But apart from that one small gripe I have to give Bellator props for this event, which is why I'm giving this show the big thumbs up.

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