The inaugural Bellator Featherweight Championship crowned one fighter while retiring the other. From the first prelim fight to the headlining championship fight, Bellator 174 provided an array of finishes and decisions.
Preliminary Card (spike.com)
Catchweight (174 LB) – Justin Patterson def. Jason Witt – TKO punches – (RD 3 – 0:13)
Patterson’s victory was softened some by the fact he was overweight, but he had one of the more unique finishes I have seen. The first round saw Witt as the more aggressive fighter scoring three takedowns and controlling the center of the octagon. Both fighters connected with strikes in the first round.
In the second round Patterson dropped Witt with a straight left. Witt was able to get back to his feet and score his 4th takedown of the match. After getting back to standing, Witt went back to his aggressive strategy despite bleeding from a cut on his face. Patterson showed some good takedown defense but was brought down a second time in the second round. While in the clinch Witt landed some effective knees and on the ground attempted a Peruvian submission. Things got interesting at the very end of the second round when both fighters were back on their feet and Patterson connected with a powerful right simultaneously with the ending bell. This shot was legal and tagged Witt badly. If the shot had landed just a few second earlier the fight probably would have ended in a knock out.
Witt came out in the third round still feeling the effects of the knock out shot. Patterson dropped the weakened Witt with a left and unloaded ground and pound to receive the TKO just seconds into the third round.
Women’s Featherweight – Gabrielle Holloway def. Alexis Dufresne – TKO punches – (RD 2 – 2:53)
Alexis Dufresne, famous for defeating Marloes Coenen while overweight last year, was unable to defeat Holloway in there matchup.
Dufresne looked good early using her 5 inch height and 5.5 inch reach advantage to dominate the clinch and to score a takedown. While on the ground Dufresne attempted an arm bar and a triangle submission that Holloway was able to escape. On the ground Holloway landed strikes that didn’t appear to do much damage and the ref eventually stood them up. Holloway scored a takedown of her own to end the first round.
In the second round Dufresne whiffed badly on a takedown attempted and Holloway jumped on top of her on the ground. Holloway took the back of Dufresne with both hooks looking for the rear-naked choke. Holloway couldn’t get under the chin and gave up on the submission to landed ground and pound. Dufresne was in a bad position and wasn’t doing anything to fight back. Holloway unloaded the ground and pound until the ref awarded her the TKO.
Women’s Flyweight – Emily Ducote def. Katy Collins – Submission rear-naked choke – (RD 1 – 4:53)
In the few fights I have watched of hers, I have been impressed with Emily Ducote (I also find her to be very attractive). Coming off a loss, she was determined to earn a victory against Collins in her home state of Oklahoma.
Collins clinched up and scored a takedown right away in the first round. Ducote got on top and slowly wore down Collins. The heel kicks from Collins didn’t appear to effect Ducote much as she remained on top. After a long time of inactivity, the ref stood the fighters up which is where Ducote rocked Collins with three rights which lead to a takedown. Ducote slowly made her way to the back of Collins and got the rear-naked choke seconds before the round ended.
Lightweight – Cody Pfister def. Jonathan Gary – Submission rear-naked choke – (RD 1 – 4:04)
A second straight first round rear-naked choke came by the hands of former UFC fighter, Cody Pfister. The strategy that Pfister used to earn the win was a risky one, as he came out going 100 miles per hour and never let off the gas. If he didn’t get the first round finish he would of have zero stamina for the final two rounds. The fight went to the ground a couple of times where Pfister unloaded ground and pound. He never let up and went for the TKO using all of his energy. He kept throwing strikes and got close to the TKO but the ref never called it. He finally gave up on throwing weak strikes and took the back of Gary and attempted a rear-naked choke. The little bit of energy he had left he used to squeeze the neck of Gary and got the tap.
Pfister basically closed his eyes, swung as hard as he could and hit a home run. Not always the best strategy but after hearing his post-fight interview it made sense. He announced his retirement and wanted to go out on a strong first round finish.
Catchweight (150 LB) Emmanuel Rivera def. Treston Thomison – Decision unanimous – (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight was not close. Rivera dominated Thomison. It probably would have been better from Thomison to get KO’d in the first round that get worked for 3 straight rounds. It wouldn’t be worth my or your times to just write every strike that Rivera landed on Thomison as you can imagine what a one sided fight looks like. Rivera used his range to landed strike after strike while preventing Thomison from landing strikes of his own.
Thomison ate mouth piece dislodging strikes and stayed alive. It can be said that Thomison can take a punch and never gives up, but the dude got worked. Sean Grande said it best after both fighters bumped gloves to begin the third round, “that fist bump may have been the hardest shot he has been able to land.”
Main Card (Spike)
Catchweight (194 LB) Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Charles Hackman – TKO knees and punches – (RD 1 – 0:13)
Lovato Jr. finished Hackman in 13 seconds. It is hard to finish a fight any quicker than he did. Lovato Jr. landed a head kick, two knees, and a couple strikes to TKO Hackman in brutal fashion.
Heavyweight – Justin Wren vs. Roman Pizzolato – Submission arm-triangle choke – (RD 1 – 2:35)
Wren is strong. He crushed Pizzolato with knees in the clinch, threw him to the ground, suplexed him, landed sharp elbows, and finished him with an arm-triangle choke. Wren showed a little bit of everything to annihilate Pizzolato. That suplex was beautiful.
Catchweight (173 LB) – Fernando Gonzalez def. Brandon Girtz – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
This match between Gonzalez and Girtz is a perfect example of why weight classes are a thing in combat sports. Girtz is a small welterweight to begin with and he was match up with an overweight welterweight in Gonzalez. The size difference was huge and was deciding factor in who won the fight.
Girtz started the fight off strong. He scored 3 takedowns in the first round and was the more active fighter. He traded strikes with Gonzalez and was holding his own against a much larger opponent. But as the fight reached the end of the second and the third round, he was out of gas. Gonzalez treated the face of Girtz like a speed bag landing as many lefts as he wanted. Girtz scored 9 takedowns total in this fight but attempted many more and was unable to keep Gonzalez on the ground. By the third round, Gonzalez just walked through the takedown attempts from the exhausted Girtz and responded with brutal strikes. Girtz showed a lot of heart and courage, but Gonzalez was just too strong and won the decision unanimously.
Women’s Featherweight – Julia Budd def. Marloes Coenen – TKO punches – (RD 4 – 2:42)
The inaugural Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship fight was a slow and grueling affair. It took 3.5 rounds for Budd to finally finish Coenen. Budd brought Coenen to the ground in all four rounds being the more effective fighter in landing strikes and defending submissions. Budd’s coach (her husband) completely ruined the viewing experience acting like a shitty motivational speaker at a church. He could be heard more clearly than Jimmy Smith and Sean Grande who were actually calling the fights. The dude was annoying.
The fight ended in the fourth round when Budd got into full mount and went for the kill. She threw an abundant of strikes trying to get the TKO over Coenen. Big John gave Coenen the legends treatment providing many warnings and ample time to fight back. The tired strikes from Budd weren’t doing a lot of damage, but after what felt like hours of Coenen doing nothing to fight back, the TKO was called.
Budd looked to be in peak physical shape and overcame her husband’s annoying coaching to win the belt. Coenen announced her retirement leaving the sport of MMA. I am glad that I got to see her fight live as she is one of the pioneers of Women’s MMA and I will add her to the list of OG legends that I was lucky to see fight live.
Bellator 175 is a few weeks away on Friday, March 31st 2017 and will feature a rematch between King Mo and Rampage Jackson.