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Bellator 66 Parting Shots

By on April 23, 2012

While UFC 145 got the lion’s share of fan attention this past weekend, it wasn’t for a lack of quality fights on Friday night. Bellator 66 certainly delivered a great card, and if you didn’t see it, you really missed out. Yes, while many misguided fans may have looked past Bellator’s stacked card, the most important attendee of all, Violence, was in the building.

Okay, I can imagine Mauro Ranallo saying that with a straight face, which gives me immediate and strong feelings of guilt. Let’s just move on.

Alvarez Leads Stoppage Parade With Quick Work of Aoki

Eddie Alvarez, who is still one of the best lightweights in the world regardless of his lost last year to Michael Chandler, again shined a spotlight on Shinya Aoki’s glaring weaknesses in both wrestling and standup technique during their brief scrap on Friday night. Just as he did with Gilbert Melendez in his ill-fated Strikeforce appearance two years ago (nearly to the day), Aoki resorted to butt-scooting on the mat and inviting- begging, almost- Alvarez to come play his game.

Of course, why would he? Aoki’s deficiencies in the standup game are well-documented, and even if Alvarez is confident in his ability on the mat, there’s no reason to put yourself in the one place where your opponent is extremely dangerous. So Alvarez battered Aoki with two huge uppercuts and finished him off against the cage as Aoki simply covered up and waited for referee intervention. I don’t know how much longer Aoki’s fans can blindly argue that he is an elite lightweight when he is so deficient in multiple areas of mixed martial arts. It’s got to be disappointing for Aoki, too, as he knows he won’t get that many chances to prove himself against top-tier talent. Aoki did say he’d like to fight in Bellator again, but to what extent is still unknown.

Alvarez gains some redemption and gets to relish a rare victory over a top ten opponent from within the confines of the Bellator cage; Aoki simply returns to where he was two years ago, having missed his own opportunity to prove his worth against a top ten lightweight on American soil. His skeptics, myself included, will likely not be quieted by another seven-fight win streak over the usual crop of Japanese mainstays and North American journeymen this time around.

Though Alvarez had the most notable win on Friday, he actually did not have the most memorable one, at least in terms of his method of victory. Andreas Spang backed up his bold actions at the weigh-ins with a wicked knockout of Brian Rogers in a fight that had seen Rogers taking control more and more as time elapsed. Rogers looked to have it wrapped up as Spang was rocked numerous times in the second round and was beginning to look pretty weary, but Spang still had dangerous power and uncoiled at with a vicious left hook counter that ended Rogers’ night.

There was another highlight-reel KO later in the night when Rick Hawn floored Lloyd Woodward with a right hand early in round two of their bout, leading to the feared Hammerfists of Formality that caused a referee intervention and an official end to the fight. Even on the prelims, how about Frank Caraballo defending the North American Allied Fight Series Featherweight Championship (whew!) with a flying knee that knocked out the outclassed Donny Walker in the fourth round of their title bout?

You Stay Classy

To level things out with a little controversy, there was even a little scuffle in the cage on Friday night, thanks to one Andreas Spang. Spang apparently does not enjoy having his personal space invaded, and showed us all that at the weigh-ins, where he pushed Brian Rogers. However, he wasn’t content with just that, and when Maiquel Falcao was brought in for the customary “Here’s who you’re facing next” hype non-event/fabricated staredown, Spang again couldn’t handle the proximity and gave Falcao a shove. Falcao didn’t like it and thought about throwing a punch but restrained himself before the two converged and he ended up throwing a knee before they were separated. I’m not the only one who blames Spang; he was fined $6,000 for the altercation by the athletic commission (strangely enough, he was given the option of being fined 20% of his purse or a $50 fine coupled with a six-month suspension; I’ve never heard of a fighter being given such a choice before).

You stay classy, Andreas Spang.

Movin’ On Up Award

As much as I make fun of the old “re-invent your career with a change in weight class” move, I’ll be damned if it hasn’t worked wonders for Rick Hawn. Always a solid fighter, Hawn looks like an unstoppable machine at lightweight, and has already knocked out two very good opponents in Lloyd Woodard and Ricardo Tirloni. Bellator has a seemingly endless pool of quality lightweights and Hawn is a fine addition to the crop. The final between Hawn and Brent Weedman should be a great fight.

Beautiful Loser Award

This has to go to Thiago Michel Pereira Silva, who gave Weedman a real run for his money during a split decision loss. Silva throws a lot of unconventional strikes, but he does so in a manner that is effective and makes sense, which is not so common at all. If he could have kept himself vertical a bit more throughout the fight, he’d be set for a really exciting final with Rick Hawn instead of going back to the drawing board. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him again, just the same.

Holy $#!& Award

I have to reluctantly give this to Spang, who may act a fool during staredowns, but fought with great heart and perseverance against Rogers. I suppose I could give the award to him twice; he could get it once for his actual knockout and another time for shoving yet another person who had the audacity to take part in a customary nose-to-nose staredown. Either way, you have to give him his props for what was a really impressive in-fight comeback.

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