California's, Visalia Convention Center, tonight, played host to Bellator 102 and its semi-final middleweight and heavyweight bouts, as well as its bantamweight final's fight; as broadcast on SPIKE TV.
In review, it was a mixed bag of interest, with some boos thrown in from the live audience, and as encompassing some truly great technique, peppered by a minute or two at the end of the card, which no fighter would want to be on the receiving end of.
Highlights of the nights:
Brennan Ward: This guy is a serious fighter. Although he looked a little off in the first, he settled-in in the second and once so, he looked well-round and demonstrated real power and skill. He’s a fighter to watch, for sure.
Rafael Silva: This bantamweight is the real deal and is most certainly another fighter to watch. He demonstrated a number of different qualities, tonight. In a word, this fighter seems to have it “all”. He has great stand-up, timing, faints, elusiveness, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling; again, he seems to have it all.
Cheick Kongo: What to say about this performance? What I first thought was a boring fight and one that was going nowhere, in the second, turned out to be an all-out knee and fist assault, that had Alistair Overeem’s best day written all over it. As it turns out, Kongo appears to have had a game plan and he executed it beautifully.
In the first round he accomplished two things: He confused his opponent, by sucking him into a clinch and control game against the fence, one that Godbeer surely wasn't expecting, and secondly, he sapped Mark of his energy and will.
In the second round, Kongo repeated the first, but with decisiveness and devastating power. As it played out near the end, it was reminiscent of an ugly barroom brawl, where one combatant was clearly outmatched and outwitted, by the other.
In consideration, the card pleased, but didn’t wow. It did however, demonstrate two fighters that we should pay attention to, and perhaps a newer, and craftier, Cheick Kongo.
MAIN CARD Results:
Fight #1: Brennan Ward vs. Joe Pacheco (Middleweight semi-finals)
The first round presented little in the way of action. Ward came out looking good and getting the better of the stand-up, but mid round Pacheco hit Ward with a huge body slam and followed up trying to work some G ’n P, but Ward managed to get back up. Pacheco hit Ward with a solid left setting up another body slam. With Ward on his back, Pacheco began to own Ward in the way of control, but doing so, was delivering little damage.
The second round broke and Ward came out like a man on a mission, he was throwing shots with bad intend and Pacheco wasn’t enjoying it. In an effort to change the subject, Pacheco tried to take the fight to the ground, but was stuffed and Ward hit him with some heavy shots to the back. Undeterred, Pacheco kept trying only to find himself on the ground with Ward on his back. Hooks in and delivering shots to Pacheco’s head, Ward suddenly stood up and walked away. Pacheco was forced to stand and again, was getting hurt. With one last attempt, Pacheco attempt a takedown and landed in Ward’s grip; sinking in a front-naked choke, Ward taps out Pacheco at the 2:41 mark of the second round and advances to the final round of the tournament.
Fight # 2: Mikkel Parlo vs. Jason Butcher (Middleweight semi-finals)
They say styles make fights, if so, tonight and in the case of this bout, they made for an ugly fight. Jason Butcher is a very boxer and Mikkel Parlo is a BJJ genius (from what we hear). The longer taller Parlo moves in the ring, as if stand-up is a recent addition to his arsenal. Beyond that, he has absolutely no transitional game. Parlo, for his part, has some pretty good TDD, a lot of movement and cardio, and apparently had no willingness to engage Butcher on the ground. Put it all together and this bout was eerily reminiscent of Silva / Leites; ironically, same weight division, too. If we were to count the number of times Parlo went to his back and Butcher walked away, it would be a considerable number. The only point worth telling you about is that the exhausted Butcher was saved by the bell, at the end of the second; winner by unanimous decision, Mikkel Parlo; advances to the final round of the tournament.
Fight # 3: Rafael Silva vs. Anthony Leone (Bantamweight final)
In a phrase, this was about as evenly matched a fight as a fan could see and very technical. One thing that should be taken from this bout is the following, both are very good fighters, but of the two, Rafael Silva is the more real deal and looks as if he’d be well at home in the UFC bantamweight division. This fight might best be described as two business partners playing a game of chess; both equally skilled, yet one, the slightly senior partner; Rafael Silva 51%, to Anthony Leone’s 49%. Leone put up a great fight, they both did, as one attacked, the other simply vanished and back and forth it went. However as the rounds progressed, Leone tired from the powerful rights that he was throwing, all of which not once, found a home. In each round, they darted back and forth, with Silva securing each round with a takedown and the superior position on the ground. By the third, Leone was visibly, more the tired fighter. With Silva still looking reasonably fresh for the high pace he had set, the fight finished with Silva being the better general, boxer, ground tactician and wrestler; winner by unanimous decision and winner of the final round, Rafael Silva.
Fight # 4: Vinicius Queiroz vs. Lavar Johnson (Heavyweight semi-finals)
The story of this fight was one punch, delivered at the :23 second mark of the first round; winner by big right, sending his opponent face first to the canvas, with arms outstretched, Vinicius Queiroz; advancing to the heavyweight finals
Fight # 5: Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Godbeer (Heavyweight semi-finals)
In a word, this fight was about two things, the clinch and Cheick Kongo’s knees.
The first round was somewhat a confusing and boring affair. In, what most thought would be, an entertaining kick-boxing match, the bout turned out to be a clinch and control game on, Cheick Kongo’s behalf.
As the first round broke, Kongo came out and appeared to want to close the distance, clinch and not engage at all. As such, Cheick pushed the fight up against the fence, and for the better part of the five minutes, he seemed more intent on exhausting and confusing his opponent, as opposed to taking him on. In doing so, he reminded me of GSP; coming out and giving his opponent the fight he didn’t expect and exhausting his will and wind, purpose served.
Second round broke, and again Kongo grappled, clinched and closed. He pulled the tiring Godbeer into a black-hole of close quarters combat and with every exchange, the British fighter was getting the worst of it, from his French advisory. In pursuit of the fruit of his efforts, Kongo finally relented on the vicious knees he'd been delivering to Godbeer’s thighs, hips, mid-section and head, and finally, after delivering a fight-ending & devastating right upper-cut and big left, to Godbeer's head, it was over; winner by TKO, Cheick Kongo; advances to the heavyweight finals.
Lightweight Feature Fight: Cain Carrizosa vs. Juan Quesada; Carrizosa, by way of triangle choke submission at the 4:51 mark, of the second round
Catch-weight Fight (164 pounds): Stephen Martinez vs. Bryan Travers; Martinez, by way of guillotine choke at the 0:56 mark, of the first round.
Lightweight Feature Fight: Brandon Girtz vs. Poppies Martinez; Girtz, by way of arm-bar at the 1:20 mark, of the first round
Heavyweight Feature Fight: Javy Ayala vs. Thiago Santos – Ayala, by way of KO at the 5:00 mark, of the first round
Featherweight Feature Fight: Scott Cleve vs. Issac De Jesus; Cleve, by way of TKO due to unanswered strikes at 3:14 mark, of the second round.
Heavyweight Feature Fight: Brandon Cash vs. William Richey; Cash by way of TKO at the 5:00 mark of the second round (Richey couldn’t answer the bell for the third round; exhaust