A dominant finish and a razor-thin decision gave us our light heavyweight finalists at Bellator 42, as Christian M’Pumbu and Rich Hale prevailed with very different methods to advance in the Bellator 205 lb. tournament.
Tim Carpenter was never allowed to get comfortable against M’Pumbu, who used leg kicks from the start to keep Carpenter on the defensive. They never had a chance to take a long term effect, of course, because M’Pumbu landed a quick right hand that visibly wobbled Carpenter before finishing the job with a follow-up uppercut that floored him and prompted a stop to the fight midway through the first round. Carpenter briefly protested the stoppage, but it was too late and the stoppage only brought on the inevitable a little earlier than it otherwise would have come.
M’Pumbu will ride his striking into the final round, hoping that he will fare better against Rich Hale than Hale’s previous Bellator opponents have. Though Hale only won a split decision against DJ Linderman, Linderman did struggle to get inside of Hale’s reach during much of the fight. With that said, Linderman definitely had his moments and was able to land powerful strikes on Hale with surprising regularity during the first two rounds of tonight’s fight, which were extremely close.
In the third round, an ill-advised takedown attempt against the cage led to Hale taking advantage of what appeared to be a miscalculated throw attempt or a loss of balance, landing in the mounted position on top of Linderman in the process. From then on, Hale controlled the vast majority of the round, taking Linderman’s back and unsuccessfully working for a rear naked choke several times.
The third round, which was clearly Hale’s, was the only obvious round of the fight, and it seemed that Linderman would have the better chance of winning, as he needed just one of the two previous rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards to gain the split decision. That’s what he did, and Linderman was left shaking his head at a missed opportunity while Hale celebrated his good fortune after the famously unpredictable judges of MMA chose to favor him this time.
One has to wonder if Hale will be able to use his reach to better effect against M’Pumbu than he did against Linderman. Considering Linderman appeared to be about 5’11” at best and had no real problem landing punches from outside, the 6’2″ M’Pumbu may fare very well in striking exchanges in the light heavyweight final.
In the night’s other televised fights, Ronnie Mann absolutely handled Josh Arocho in their bout by stuffing Arocho’s takedowns and working a well-rounded game of competent striking and dangerous submission attempts.
Arocho got the early takedown, but was swept almost effortlessly by Mann, who was able to put a hurting on Arocho for the majority of the first round. Throughout the rest of the fight, Mann was able to stuff Arocho’s takedown attempts while getting the better of the striking and using his sprawl to put Arocho on his back when the opportunity presented itself. In the third round, Mann tried some submissions, including an arm triangle and an Americana, but Arocho’s toughness and submission defense was up to the task.
In the first televised bout of the evening, Luis Alberto Nogueira got the better of Jerod Spoon with a unanimous decision victory. Nogueira was taken down early and late in the fight by Spoon, but Spoon wasn’t able to do anything with the change of position, while Nogueira was able to capitalize a bit better on his own takedowns throughout the fight. Meanwhile, Nogueira got the better of the standup during the bout, working leg kicks and backing Spoon up as the fight went on. By the end of the bout, Spoon was relying on single punches instead of working combinations to crack Nogueira’s defense.
In two weeks, Bellator will return from a brief break with the welterweight tournament final between Jay Hieron and Rick Hawn.