Bellator saw a lot of self congratulation about Bellator 170 and the commentators could be heard saying “many said Bellator has turned the corner,” and “we were trending number one on twitter!” Constantly discussing how great Bellator is and that every weight class is “loaded” with great fighters comes off as desperate and pathetic.
Looking past the circle jerk, Bellator 171 featured 9 fights, most of which were worth watching.
Preliminary Card (spike.com)
Women’s Flyweight – Bruna Ellen def. Carmella James – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
The preliminary card started with a boring decision and stream issues. For the first two fights on the preliminary card, spike.com went in an out and I confirmed via complaints on twitter that I was not the only one who experienced them.
Ellen defeated James but she didn’t impressive doing so. She had one move that she threw over and over without setting it up or attempting to diversify her attacks. The overhand right was over utilized and if she was fighting someone more experienced she probably would have lost. James did next to nothing on offense only throwing lazy kicks and half-hearted strikes. Both fighters scored takedowns but regardless of who brought the fight there, Ellen controlled the ground. Ellen won the decision but all who watched the fight lost.
Heavyweight – Jarod Trice def. Kevin Woltkamp – KO punches – (RD 2 – 3:17)
Jarod Trice is apart of the fantastic five, or stupid six, or whatever Bellator is calling the young group of wrestlers they signed recently. Trice jiggled his way to victory over Woltkamp while showing off his signature taunting. In between rounds stuff had to wiped off the bottom of Trice’s foot, it looked like decals on the mat stuck onto the bottom of his feet. This is when the stream died and I rejoined shortly after the second round started.
In the second round Trice clipped Woltkamp with a left and lost his mouth piece in another exchange. Big John stopped the fight for a short time to allow Trice to reinsert his mouth piece. Shortly after Trice continues to land strikes and Woltkamp stumbled backwards and turned his back (physical surrender) and fell to the mat. To me it looked like Woltkamp was hurt and tired and just gave up.
Heavyweight – Tyrell Fortune def. Will Johnson – TKO punches – (RD 2 – 4:27)
Ref error can change the outcome of a fight. The ref in this Fortune/Johnson fight was very active, verbal, and hands on throughout the fight almost as if he snorted a few lines of cocaine and popped some adderall before hand.
In the first round Johnson landed two brutal nut shots on Fortune leaving Fortune in a heap of pain on the mat. After the second nut shot the ref took a point away from Johnson, likely leaving the round as a 9-9 score.
Both of these fighters are huge and athletic. Johnson flung the large Fortune to the ground several times reminding me of hard football tackles in the NFL. In the second round Fortune was on top of Johnson against the fist landing some well spaced out hammer fists. He was adding strikes to his score card and trying to stay in a power position, he wasn’t looking for the TKO. A grunt came from Johnson and the ref called the fight claiming Johnson shouted “stop” verbally surrendering. Johnson was pissed and the replay revealed that Johnson was just grunting after eating a shot, not surrendering. Who knows how this fight would have ended but the micro managing ref did his best Mike England impersonation and made the wrong call.
Catchweight (187 LB) Jordan Young def. Chris Harris – Decision unanimous – (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Young is a massive middleweight. He towered over Harris and had a significant reach advantage. In the first round Young caught a kick from Harris and scored a takedown. On the ground Harris scrambled into a D’Arce choke from Young. Harris escaped the submission, got to his feet and was brought to the ground again by young.
In the second round Young landed many jabs on the charging Harris. The jabs did their toll on the face of Harris who landed a few leg kicks.
Young continued his dominance in the third round landing more jabs on Harris who kept charging forward. Harris lost his mouth piece which big John picked up and put back in his mouth. The strikes from Young were abundant in this round and he scored another takedown.
Featherweight – Justin Overton def. Gaston Reyno – Submission rear-naked choke – (RD 2 – 0:34)
Reyno entered this fight with Gaston with a 3 inch reach advantage standing at a height of 5 feet and 11 inches. Overton eliminated that reach advantage by taking the fight to the ground. On the ground Overton took the back of Reyno with both hooks. Reyno played desperate defense trying to protect his neck from the rear-naked choke. Overton gave up on the rear-naked but controlled the ground game through the end of the round.
Overton came out swinging in the second rocking Reyno with two rights. Overton brought Reyno to the ground and took his back with both hooks. This time Reyno couldn’t defend his neck and Overton choked him unconscious. Big John rushed in to help Reyno and Overton lifted up the legs of Reyno to help bring him back to consciousness.
Before the official decision Overton stared into the camera and shouted “jiu-jitsu or die!”
Main Card (Spike)
Featherweight- A.J. McKee def. Brandon Phillips – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
The Bellator phenom McKee put his undefeated record on the line in his fight with Phillips. McKee entered the fight with a 4 inch height and reach advantage.
This was a close fight. McKee won in a unanimous decision, but two rounds could have easily gone in Phillips favor. The fight started with McKee shoving Phillips across the cage with a body kick. Both fighters traded blows and time was briefly stopped for a nut shot on McKee. Phillips landed a counter right on a kick from McKee and another right to end the first round.
The second round was fairly boring as Phillips stayed conservative looking to land counter shots. Phillips put his arms up in the round and the crowd began chanting his name. McKee absorbed a grazing shot from Phillips on his eye.
In the third round McKee scored a takedown and Phillips landed shots as he got back to his feet. Time was stopped for another nut shot on McKee which killed the momentum Phillips was building up. McKee landed a counter right hook and scored a takedown at the end of the round sealing his victory.
Women’s Flyweight – Jessica Middleton def. Alice Yauger – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
I have often pointed out the stupidity in most MMA nick names but Alice “soccer mom” Yauger is in a league of its own. I hope her kids were playing soccer instead of watching her fight Middleton as she was served up two 10-8 rounds. It will forever be a mystery to how one judge believed Yauger lost by a score of 29-28. She was brutalized. There isn’t much of a fight break down to be written as the last two rounds saw Yauger getting crushed and doing everything she could to survive. She took Middleton to the ground in the third but was too gassed to accomplish anything. After suffering that beat down, one positive thing that can be said is that Yauger never quit. I have seen many a fighter give themselves up after taking that kind of punishment.
Welterweight – David Rickels def. Aaron Derrow – TKO punches – (RD 3 – 0:44)
All night Bellator was hyping up the “creative” walk outs David Rickels is known for. When I saw he entered the ring after a mannequin challenge, I was severely disappointed. Is it October of 2016?
Rickels clipped Derror early in the first round with a forearm jab combo. He jumped on top of Derrow landing ground and pound looking for the TKO. Derrow survived and stayed on his back as Rickels got to his feet and jumped back on top of the grounded Derrow several times. Here is where Rickels did a lot of damage with hammer fists and elbows.
The second round went much like the first. Rickels clipped Derrow with a left, took him to the ground and landed ground and pound. From here Derrow stayed on the ground on his back as Rickels got to his feet and jumped back on top of Derrow landing more hammer fists and elbows.
The two fighters clinched up in the third round and Rickels began to unloaded on Derrow. The fight went to the ground and Rickels continued his ground and pound attack until the TKO was called.
Catchweight (179 LB) – Chidi Njokuani def. Melvin Guillard – Decision unanimous – (30-25, 30-24, 30-26)
Sometimes looking at the score card is all you need to know about a fight. Most of the judges saw every round as a 10-8. Guillard didn’t have a chance until the very end of the right.
Njokuani used his huge 8 inch reach and 6 inch height advantage to terrorize Guillard. The fight started off slow to the point where big John stopped the fighters and told them to actually fight. Time was stopped for a low blow of Njokuani. Later in the round big John stopped the fight for an illegal knee from Njokuani on the downed Guillard. The replay showed that Guillard started to get to his feet when Njokuani threw the knee, but Guillard fell back to his butt when Njokuani’s knee landed.
In the second round Njokuani got on top of Guillard who fell to the ground after losing his footing. From there he landed some ground and pound but after minutes of inactivity big John stood them up with just 30 second left in the round. Njokuani rocked Guillard with a liver kick and a flying knee but wasnt able to finish him.
In the third round Njokuani scored another takedown and landed more shots while in the power position. Big John stood them up again with just 30 seconds left in the round. Guillard made it interesting in the final seconds taking Njokuani to the ground looking for the rear-naked choke. It looked like he had his arms under his neck but Njokuani was able to survive.
Bellator 172 featuring another washed up veteran fighter, Fedor on Saturday, February 18th 2017.