We’re cursed to live in interesting times, as the old proverb goes.
In the last couple of weeks, mixed martial arts fans have had so many events vying for our attention, it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all. ZUFFA alone scheduled three UFC events in the course of eight days, not to mention the long awaited season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Do the math for all that programming. It’s three hour blocks of television and pay-per-view time on each show, plus the requisite three hours of under card action. Plus the season premiere, which was two hour special. Twenty hours of… “Face the Pain!”
But who can complain? We’re seeing some of the best in the world face off more often than ever.
On Saturday, Bellator MMA offered admittedly-fatigued fans a reason to watch yet another three more hours of fighting.
Bellator 98 didn’t have all the glamor of some of those other events, and didn’t break new ground like the new Ultimate Fighter series premiere — it was simply a good, solid MMA show. Fans at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut and viewers alike got a treat on Saturday. Sure it was easy to let this show, possibly hours #20-23 of our MMA viewing over the last few weeks, fly under the radar, but you’d regret it.
Here’s my two cents on each of the main card bouts:
1) Patricky “Pitbull” vs Derek Anderson: Round one of this fight looked like the Patricky of old, out-landing Anderson in stand-up and then putting on a nice ground display, moving from takedown, to mount, to a near-triangle finish. Then, everything fell apart, and Patricky looked tired and confused. Anderson seemed pretty ordinary, but after the first round, that was enough here.
Middleweight Tournament Bouts:
2) Justin Torrey vs Brennan Ward: Things got back on track in the first — I loved the back-and-forth. Ward hits a nice throw, but ended up in Torry’s mount where he took an ugly beating. Then Torrey’s eye gets cut open in an ugly way in the second, earning Ward the T/KO.
3) Jeremy Kimball vs. Perry Filkins: Kimball’s a flabby guy who was one year old when UFC 1 aired on PPV. But he can give and take a beating, including some unorthodox kicks like a slick round kick which he turns into a side kick. The more polished and conditioned Filkins seemed to win by just pressing the action until the young lad broke down in the third, with a rear naked choke.
4) Jason Butcher vs. Giva Santana: Santanta’s beautiful jiu-jitsu game was on full display in the first, with some of the most graceful transitions from one position to another that you’ll see. Then, a left hook in the second turned everything on its ear, and he was worn down to a T/KO defeat. Santana’s retirement in the cage, admitting his diminishing gifts while describing his love for fans and his academy — was as classy a moment as we’ll see in 2013.
5) Brian Rogers vs. Mikkel Parlo: The Dane shows some nice striking in winning every round. Rogers shows good heart but was a bit outclassed in a fight that doesn’t really hold up in memory.
Main Event: For the Middleweight Title
6) Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper: A fight-of-the year contender, as the two brawled it out for five memorable rounds. The right guy won, too: I had it 4 rounds to one, but three to two is possible. Shlemenko is also becoming my favorite interview in MMA; check out last week’s call for fighters and not athletes, and his earlier interviews hailing his Siberian home. In the former, Shlemenko described how much he wanted a great war in the cage. He got it, and we got a heck of a fight, wrapping up a solid show.