By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Bellator made its debut on Spike TV, and did so in tremendous style. The partnerships first joint venture featured two title fights, and two light heavyweight tournament quarter final fights. Early results in show that just under 1 million people tuned in to watch the inaugural event. A huge increase from the numbers they had been seeing on MTV2.

Once all the pieces were in place and the lights heated up, it was out of the promoters hands. The fighters themselves would dictate the success or failure of this event. The gladiators made their intentions known from the onset, as several hotly contested preliminary fights got the crowd juiced, and more importantly the fighters waiting to perform. The under card was featured on Savant Young provided the spark with a tremendous one punch knock out of heavily favored Mike ‘The Joker’ Guymon. After being behind in the fight, Young countered an advancing Guymon with a well time left hand that floored the former UFC vet. A thunderous shot, on the ground was purely academic as the ref leaped in too stop any further damage.

The live portion of the Spike TV card began with an incredible back and forth scrap between featherweight title holder Pat Curran and aggressive challenger Patricio Pitbull. The crowd and the audience may have been expecting fireworks, however instead they were treated to a back and forth battle of attrition, that left both fighter swollen, battered, and bleeding. Curran narrowly eked out a split decision, holding on to his coveted featherweight crown.

Not may people gave a young unknown fighter from Russia a chance against a former UFC title contender, but Mikhail Zayats could care less about being an underdog. He only cares about winning, and he proved that after he over came huge odds, and a lopsided crowd to destroy UFC and Strikeforce veteran Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral. A vicious spinning back fist, was the beginning of the end. Zayats left the crowd stunned, and the tournament with a new favorite!

The main event of the evening made several points clear. First of all after defeating a very game Rick Hawn, Michael Chandler’s name certainly has to be mentioned in the pound for pound category. His striking, and dominating wrestling made the fight look easy, although i am sure it was not. Chandler never looked to be out of control, and his pedigree as a champion has been solidified.

Thoughts on Bellator: Bellator provides an extremely exciting format with their tournament based champions. The roster of fighters has always been an exciting fusion of homegrown young talent, mixed with savvy veterans who have fought in several organizations. Bjorn Rebney and his partners have created a juggernaut of a promotion that seems to be creating its own path. For years, many companies have tried to follow the UFC business model and have failed miserably, simply because they were not the UFC. Bellator seems content to succeed in areas that UFC is either no longer interested in (fighters), or in avenues the UFC has no interest in such as: Pro wrestling. As long as the fights are exciting, and the product is not watered down the promotions success appears to be a guarantee at this point. 2013 could be the year Bellator becomes a true rival for the UFC, although it appears they don’t seem to care either way. Bellator seems only concerned with Bellator, and in the combat sports world, that is a refreshing take!

All Photos are provided by: John Walsh

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