Posts Tagged ‘Mike Richman’

Bellator 131-38

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Scott Coker has been around for a while. Very few have a greater understanding of the ins and outs of MMA. So his hiring by Viacom to replace Bjorn Rebney as the head of Bellator MMA  seemed like the best choice. As the last of the tournaments under the old regime wouned down, a lame duck period ensued which showed very little difference. The look and feel had not changed, the faces were the same, and the results reflected the lack of interest.

That lame duck period came to an end with Bellator 131, In fact that period came to a screeching halt! Bonnar vs. Ortiz provided the perfect stage for Scott Coker and Viacom to unveil there re-branded image. The fighters now entered the cage via a long walk way, reminiscent of the old Japanese promotions. Some fighters like King Mo, Joe Vedepo, Tito Ortiz, and Stephan Bonnar came complete with entourages to escort them to the cage. The added pomp may not add to the excitement of the fight, but it certainly does improve the image of a promotion that was in desperate need of one!

The fight card itself may not have had title implications for anyone outside of Michael Chandler and Will Brooks, but it was very well matched as even the preliminary bouts provided a good show. The fights simply made sense. King Mo and Joe Vedepo faced off in the curtain jerker that opened the Spike broadcast. King Mo overwhelmed Vedepo from the opening round in what proved to be a one sided match although an entertaining one.

In perhaps the best fight of the evening, Glory alums Joe Schilling and Melvin Manhoef engaged in a back and forth war that saw both fighters nearly finished before a short right hook from Schilling ended the affair. Half way through the second frame Manhoef appeared to have to edge on the scorecards. In the first round Manhoef had Schilling on his back and in trouble as the ground and pound rained down. However Schilling was able to roll out of trouble, establish his guard, and ride out the round before ending the fight with one punch.

Mike Richman made perhaps the loudest statement of the night when he knocked out Nam Phan in under a minute. He then proceeded to challenge title holder Joe Warren who was cage side providing commentary for the fight. ‘The Marine’ has looked extremely impressive since he dropped down in weight, and with the win he finds himself on a short list of fighters who deserve a shot at the title.

When Michael Chandler and Will Brooks entered the cage to battle for the then interim lightweight title, everyone expected a war. The first round was a back and forth battle for position, similar to their last engagement. Brooks and Chandler battled for 3 rounds with Brooks appearing to get the better of Chandler.

Then in the fourth round Brooks cracked Chandler with a right hand that left the former champion struggling to find his senses. He appeared to ask for a stoppage, at first it appeared as if Chandler was poked in the eye, however replays confirm that he was on queer street and the punch’s effects had him essentially saying ‘No Mas’! The win for Brooks solidifies his claim as the legitimate world champion, while Chandler must find a way to rebound from his third consecutive loss.

Skepticism is fickle. Once the cage door is closed the hype disappears and performances are defined. I like most at first, felt like watching through interlaced fingers, the fear of having to witness a fraud unfold motivating me to vaguely hide my eyes. Fortunately both Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar removed that fear just seconds into their entertaining 3 round fight.

Both guys played to their strengths, as Tito Ortiz looked to ground the superior striking of  Stephan Bonnar. Early on Ortiz stalked the ‘American Psycho’ and blasted through his legs with quick single leg take downs, and later a power double that kept Bonnar grounded for most of the fight. The fight appeared to be a 30-27 clear cut win for Tito Ortiz, however one judge saw the fight 29-28 for Bonnar, awarding Ortiz with the split decision win.

The evening ended up being a return of sorts. After speaking with Scott Coker  it is obvious that Bellator MMA is heading in the right direction. The open minded leader referred to the possibility of tournaments in the future, they make sense as long as you are not beholden to them. The idea is to create an environment where fighters want to fight, to create an experience that the fans feel a part of and not just witness too. Last night an old idea forged in the spirit of martial arts was unveiled to an audience that wants to be a part of something.

The idea to return to the once a month format seems to make sense. The sport is currently over saturated, causing the growth rate of the sport to slow. With Coker on board the Viacom-Bellator MMA conglomerate seems destined to succeed. Hopefully the symphony created as a result  between Coker and Viacom carries a tune we can all dance to for a while. In a world where the UFC is practically rammed down our throats it will be nice to have a viable alternative.

 

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Champions Smile

A Champions Smile

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Bellator MMA The Toughest Tournament in Sports, hosted open workouts for the upcoming event on Saturday evening.

The main card features three world title fights, headlined by the rematch of Chandler v Alvarez II. Eddie Alvarez makes his much anticipated return to the Bellator cage since having over a year off due to contractual disputes. With those issues in the rear view mirror (for now), Alvarez is attempting to regain the title he lost to a much improved Michael Chandler.

Pat Curran will also put his 145 title on the line against tournament winner Daniel Straus. Now known as one of the top 145 lbs fighters in the world, Curran will look to solidify those rankings, while Daniel Straus will attempt to end that discussion.

Also on the main card are 205 lbs heavy hitters Emanuel Newton and King Mo Lawal who will face off for the second time, this time with the interim title on the line. The last meeting ended with a surprising spinning back fist KO, that left Lawal prone, and Newton on top of the world. However, each fight is different and whoever wins, it certainly going to be worth watching.

Other notable match-ups worth watching on SpikeTV.com are Michael ‘Joker’ Guymon v Aaron ‘Blood Spiller’ Miller; and Akop Stepanyan v Mike Richman.

The preliminary bouts can be viewed on SpikeTV.com while the main card will air live on Spike TV. Make sure you tune in to what should be one hell of a night of MMA action.

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By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Main Card Analysis and Predictions

Karo ‘The Heat’ Parisyan (22-9) vs Rick Hawn (14-2)

An very interesting match-up kicks off the Spike TV televised main card, as former UFC title contender Karo Parisyan makes his Bellator debut against former lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn. As high level Judo practitioners they are no stranger too each other, and the competition has fueled a heated rivalry. Simply put these guys don’t like each other. Parisyan is finally healthy again, after several years of injuries, and personal issues that cost him his status in the division.  Hawn, makes his return to welterweight in hopes of winning another title shot. However, Parisyan is a savvy veteran, who is in great shape for the first time in a long time, so he should turn some heads with his performance.

Predictions: Rick Hawn via Decision


Magomedrasul ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev (20-5) vs Mike Richman (15-2)

Khasbulaev won his last fight vs Marlon Sandro in very impressive fashion. Dominating the perennial contender for 2 1/2 rounds before finishing him with strikes late in the third frame. In doing so ‘Frodo’ (as he is called), earned a featherweight tournament finals position against Mike Richman who won a hotly contested decision to Alexander ‘Popo’ Bezzera. Richman may have the edge in striking technique, but Khasbulaev will have a decisive strength advantage.

Prediction: Khasbulaev via TKO rd 2


Brett Cooper (19-7) vs Doug ‘The Rhino’ Marshall (17-6)

The middleweight tournament finals features the classic striker vs grappler match-up. Cooper is a very well rounded mixed martial artist, who has a very strong wrestling base. However, it was his chin and fortitude that was on display in his last fight, which saw Cooper nearly out on his feet at one point, only to come back and win by KO. Marshall’s journey to the finals was much more controversial as he won a a split decision over Sultan Aliev, in a fight many thought he lost. Marshall will need to learn from that fight, and avoid the wrestling of Cooper if he wants to win this fight. Cooper, needs to stay away from Marshall’s power striking game, and stay in his chest.

Prediction: Cooper via Decision


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Pat Curran Champion (18-4) vs Shahbulat Shamhalaev Challenger (12-1-1) For The Featherweight Title

Shamhalev is riding a 6 fight win streak, that allowed him to step in for the injured Daniel Strauss (who will get his shot eventually according to Bjorn Rebeney) and stake his claim to the title. In his way, is one of the “Faces” of  Bellator Pat Curran. Curran is currently ranked #3 or #4 in the world at featherweight, and is in the midst of a 5 fight win streak that has seen him win and defend the featherweight strap. Shamhalaev will look to neutralize Curran’s strong wrestling with his Sambo back-round. This fight should be an exciting slug fest.

Prediction: Shamhalaev via 3rd rd TKO

Commentary on Bellator:

In the movie “Field of Dreams” the voice of a ghost eerily yet soothingly tells Kevin Costner’s character “if you build it, they will come!” In summary, he does…and they do!

This seems to be the exact format that Bellator has been using from the beginning. Simply put, if they have exciting fights, people will watch, no matter what the names of the fighters are, and even if you can’t pronounce them.

Since the move to Spike TV, Bellator has enjoyed very high ratings. The simple reason for the surge, the fighters! Unlike other promotions that use pomp and circumstance to create drama, and too build hype, Bellator approaches their setup as a fight fan would, not as an event coordinator! The result, a rear view mirror filled with exciting fights.

Leading the charge, is a long list of talented fighters from Russia, with even longer names. A place now dubbed “The New Brazil” according Bjorn Rebeney Bellator CEO. Fighters such as: Shahbulat Shamhalaev, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev have followed the success of Alexander Schlemenko and are now on the precipice of their own title shots.

Bellator’s growth is assured, not because of the popularity of the sport, but because people will always watch exciting fighters fight each other, no matter who is listed on the marquee.



TUF 17 - Wear What the Fighters Wear

Marlon Sandro is a warrior!

Marlon Sandro is a warrior!

The Clinch Report by Jonathan King Photos by: John Walsh

Bellator MMA Championship tournaments have been on an exciting run of late showcasing some of the best MMA fights ever to be seen on live television. Since the company has moved over to Spike TV, the organization has seen a revolving door of exciting fights, and stunning upsets, most of which have ended in highlight real KO’s. Can this trend continue?  The Bellator matchmakers seem to think so, but maybe that is because they are sitting on a “Golden Goose” so to speak.

Since Bellator joined the foray on SpikeTV, filling the vacancy left by the UFC, it seems almost ever single fight has been an exciting one. One reason for that is the matchmakers at Bellator seem to have discovered a hidden vault of  vicious unheard of fighters from the “New Brazil” as Bjorn Rebeny said. Where is the “New Brazil”? It very well could be Russia.

For years the Heavyweight division in MMA was dominated by one man. Fedor Emelianenko may be the most popular Russian mixed martial artist of all time, but following him are a cadre of talented fighters, with varying styles. Most of these fighters seem to be ending up in Bellator.

With Bellator’s debut on SpikeTV the world became exposed to this Russian invasion for the first time, and many including most ring side reporters were shocked. Heading into that night MMA legend Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral was the favorite to win the light heavyweight tournament. That night he was supposed to run through his unknown opponent, however Mikhail Zayats had other plans. The heavy handed Russian dispatched ‘Babalu’ with vicious strikes that left the legend in a crumpled heap, and the fans with their mouths agape. The only people who were not surprised, were the Bellator match makers who all week were lauding the power and skill of the underdog Zayats.

Last nights Bellator 92 featherweight and Middleweight tournament Semi finals featured more of the same. Akop Stepanyan started the Russians contingent off on the right foot, by laying heavy hands on Chris Saunders early and often. Eventually finishing the fight with a liver splitting kick that Saunders complained caught him low. After the ref said fight on, Stepanyan dropped some academic ground strikes that forced the stoppage, but the highlight reel kick is what finished the fight.

Sultan Aliev was next set to face Doug Marshall in a battle for the Middleweight Tournament Finals. Aliev used his impressive wrestling and sambo skill, to smother the explosive Marshall. With the crowd booing and Marshall complaining to the Ref, Aliev seemed content to grind out a decision against the heavy handed striker. However, he stopped advancing positions, and began to receive warnings from referee Herb Dean.  As the second round wore on, several times the ref stopped the action to restart the fighters standing. On the restarts, Marshall showed his explosive power often landing heavy hands before again being dragged to the mat. The third round saw a much more aggressive Marshall swinging for the fences. As the round came to an end, Marshall dropped some heavy hands on Aliev as he pulled guard. Once the split decision was read in favor of Marshall he seemed more surprised than anyone. Aliev, although dominant like his fellow Russians, fell short on the judges score cards, but most who saw thought he won the fight.

The headline fight of the evening featured Marlon Sandro vs ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev. The winner of the fight would move on to the featherweight semi finals. For Sandro, this is a familiar position. In the past he had come up one fight short, in tournaments past. His return to the finals, was being blocked by a relatively unknown fighter, once again from Russia. Both fighters were extremely strategic, with their positioning, and soon it became clear that a Sambo v BJJ clinic would ensue. An inadvertent early low blow by Sandro almost stopped the fight, as Khasbulaev rolled in agony for several minutes. But after 5 minutes he was able to continue.

Both fighters used effective sweeps to gain control, Khasbulaev at one point used a kimura sweep to put Sandro in deep trouble as he cranked the arm. Sandro however used his own sweeps to attack a triangle that ‘Frodo’ escaped quickly. The second round saw more take downs by Khasbulaev but again Sandro seemed to escape every precarious situation including a crucifix position, that saw multiple right hands bounce off of his forehead. The third round was more of the same, but now Sandro seemed to be tired. Khasbulaev controlled the Brazilian on the ground, and again secured an arm that left Sandro defenseless against several right hands, prompting Referee John McCarthy to stop the fight.

With the win, Khasbulaev secures his spot in the featherweight finals, and for a chance at the 100,000 dollar prize for winning the most exciting tournament in all of Mixed Martial Arts. With Khasbulaev, and Zayats in the finals of their tournaments, and with Alexander Shlemenko as a champion, Bellator may have found the new Brazil buried in the arctic landscape of Russia.