While the majority of MMA fans were wrapped up in the aftermath of UFC 135, Bellator Fighting Championships treated fans to some scintillating bantamweight action. Bellator’s 51st event featured the opening round of the 135 pound tournament, and boasts some of the finest competitor’s in the division today. In all, eight bantamweights took to the cage in hopes of advancing to the next round of the tournament, of course, only four emerged victorious.
Ed West opened the tournament up when he collided with fan favorite Brazilian, Luis Alberto Nogueria, who entered the tournament as one of the notable favorites. Ed West proved that hard work and tenacity inside the cage pays off, as he never contemplated wresting, instead opting to utilize his range and pick away at Nogueira. In the end, the judges saw in favor of West, who did a fine job of avoiding the aggression of “Betao”.
The action only increased as the night progressed. Marcos Galvao displayed his continued evolution while meeting former WEC titleholder Chase Beebe in the second featured fight of the night. The fight proved not only competitive, but extremely memorable. Both men fought for the finish from the jump. Beebe looked to have more than a single guillotine choke sunk tight; his Brazilian foe refused to succumb. Rather, Galvao pushed forward, showcased some highly improved wrestling, and bombarded Beebe with numerous windmill shots that hurt the American repeatedly. While a close fight, Galvao looked the definite victor; Fortunately for him, two of three judges agreed.
Highly touted Nova Uniao prospect, Eduardo "Dudu" Dantas lived up to the enormous amount of hype behind him, as he soundly outclassed the durable Wilson Reis. Dantas pushed forward from the opening bell, showing no fear of Reis or his punching power. After five minutes Dantas was the obviously superior fighter. He showed no fear in the pocket, and launched vicious shots at Reis. With just over a minute having ticked away in the second frame, Dantas unloaded with a massive flying knee that dropped Reis. A series of follow up punches rendered his Brazilian foe unconscious. Dantas passes another test with flying colors.
In the evening’s main event, brash featherweight title holder, Joe Warren welcomed former Olympic Bronze medalist, Alexis Vila to the promotion. Vila, who is 40 years old, came out early and established his tournament intentions early. The Cuban defector unleashed a heavy shot that had Warren reeling. Though the outspoken champion appeared to recover fairly well, his rebound didn’t last too long. A brutal left hook completely starched Warren just 64 seconds into the fight. The first time bantamweight competitor was unconscious long before his head bounced off the mat violently.
The loss marks Warren’s first defeat since submitting to Bibiano Fernandes at the 2009 Dream 11 - Featherweight Grand Prix Final. Two blemishes now mark Warren’s record; the standout wrestler has assembled an impressive 5-1 record for the Bellator promotion, and despite coming up brutally short on Saturday evening, he still holds a firm grasp on the promotions featherweight title.
With the upset victory banked, Vila emerges a favorite to advance to the finals. Should bracketing favor Vila, and see him paired with Ed West or Marcos Galvao, his chances of advancing increase significantly. Should fate deal a cruel hand, the dangerous 40 year old may find himself facing the future of the division in the form of Eduardo Dantas.
Check out the full Bellator 51 results below:
Alexis Vila def. Joe Warren via KO (punch) – Round 1, 1:04 - bantamweight-tourney opening round
Eduardo Dantas def. Wilson Reis via KO (flying knee) – Round 2, 1:02 - bantamweight-tourney opening round
Marcos Galvao def. Chase Beebe via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) - bantamweight-tourney opening round
Ed West def. Luiz Nogueira via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) - bantamweight-tourney opening round
Frank Caraballo def. Dustin Kempf via TKO (knee Injury) - Round 1, 1:19
Jessica Eye def. Casey Noland via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jesse Riggleman def. Farkhad Sharipo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Dan Spohn def. Dan Bonnigson via KO (knee) – Round 1, 0:09
John Hawk def. Allan Weickert via TKO (retirement) – Round 2, 5:00
Joey Holt def. Clint Musser via KO (flying knee) – Round 1, 4:07
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