Friday, 8 November 2013

Bellator 106 on Viva - TV Review

Even after it's two biggest stars were pulled it was billed as it's biggest show ever. But did it really live up to the hype? That's what I'm hoping to find out by watching Bellator 106, shown this past Tuesday night on Viva here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the featherweight division as Akop Stepanyan faced Mike Richman.

The only main card fight that didn't go the distance was another example of how the action can turn in an instant. From the moment the fight began Stepanyan looked the better striker of the two, and his early spinning back fist seemed to signal his intent.

Richman managed to get in a few good blows which opened up a cut above Stepanyan's right eye, but as the round neared it's final minute the Russian rocked his man. Then, from out of nowhere, Richman connected with a big left that sent Stepanyan crashing to the mat. A brief moment of ground and pound followed before the referee stepped in to give Richman the TKO win.

Then it was on to the Fight Master welterweight final between Mike Bronzoulis and Joe Riggs.

This one proved to be a pretty solid encounter. It began with Bronzoulis connecting with a series of kicks to Riggs' lead leg. They certainly had their desired effect judging by the colour the leg was turning. But as soon as Riggs scored with his first takedown that was it.

Riggs dominated the action for the remainder of the fight. His ground work looked good and solid, and there were times when it seemed as if Bronzoulis just didn't have the answer to Riggs' attack. The only time he managed to take back any of Riggs' momentum was when he ended up in top position momentarily.

Riggs, for his part, always looked on the offensive. Despite a clash of heads opening up a cut near his left eye he was always looking for a submission, especially when he took his man's back.

Sadly that submission wasn't forthcoming, and with no finish in sight the judges were called into play as Riggs took the unanimous decision.

The first championship fight of the evening saw Daniel Straus challenging Pat Curran for the Featherweight title.

Now this wasn't too bad. For the first two rounds it looked like a pretty even fight, with both guys having their fair share of success with their chosen tactics.

Then came the turning point in the third round. After Straus had taken his man down with a judo throw Curran immediately sprang back up and connected with a knee to the head. The only problem was that Straus' left knee was still touching the mat, making him a grounded opponent.

So the referee called a time out in order to give Straus a chance to recover, and for a few moments it looked like he wouldn't be able to carry on until the doctor gave him the all clear. It was then that the referee took a point away from Curran.

From there Straus went on to impose his will on the fight. Everything he did looked great, from his striking to his clinch work to his takedowns. Curran had some success when he went for a guillotine, but when Straus showed great composure and escaped from the hold it was a sign of things to come, that this just wasn't the champion's night, and this was never more evident than in the beginning of the final round when Straus came out all guns blazing. Five minutes later he was ending the fight on the ground in top position.

Which meant yet more work for the judges, and once again they were in complete agreement as Straus took the unanimous decision.

The championship action continued with King Mo taking on Emanuel Newton for the interim Light Heavyweight title.

This certainly proved to be an interesting five rounder. The King did an excellent job in the first round, scoring with the takedown early on and landing a barrage of blows when Newton tried to get back to his feet. He also scored with an excellent takedown when Newton went for a spinning back fist.

But from the second round onwards it was as if he was a completely different fighter. Newton really upped his game as he kept his man at a distance with a series of kicks and long range strikes, with one kick in particular landing flush on the King's jaw. Had he landed with the full force of his foot or his shin then the fight would have been over there and then.

Mo managed to score with a couple more takedowns later on, but by that time it was obvious to everyone just who was going to win this fight. Newton's striking just looked a whole lot better, while Mo seemed to find it difficult to close the distance.

As for the judges they saw it the same as everyone else as Newton took the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Eddie Alvarez challenging Michael Chandler for the Lightweight title.

I've only been watching Bellator for a few months now, but this may just be the best fight I've seen from them in that time. It had everything, two terrific performances, tons of great drama, with two guys fighting like champions.

You could probably split the performances of these two straight down the middle. For me Alvarez was the better striker. He looked great early on, and throughout the rounds he caused a hell of a lot of damage to the champion's face, swelling his left eye shut and bloodying his nose to the point that the doctor was called in at one point between the rounds.

On the opposite end of the scale you had Chandler's tremendous ground game. Some of his takedowns looked quite excellent as he lifted his man up and slammed him down to the mat. There was also the brutal ground and pound and the submission attempts, and he was so dominant on the ground that Alvarez didn't really put in any good work there until the final round when he went looking for a rear naked choke, only for Chandler to take top position as the fight came to an end.

So after five rounds of hard fought action, and with both men display the scars of battle on their faces it went down to the judges, and this time around they couldn't agree as Alvarez took the title winning split decision.

In conclusion - this may well be the best Bellator show I've ever seen.

Granted, I've only been following them for a short time, and during that time I've seen some great fights. But not all of those fights were on the same show.

Despite the fact that they lost their marquee fight when Tito Ortiz got injured Bellator still managed to put on a hell of a show. From top to bottom every fight delivered, and then some, and although this show was devoid of flashy finishes that didn't matter.

As for my fight of the night there was only ever one real choice, so the prestigious no-prize goes to the Eddie Alvarez/Michael Chandler main event.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give Bellator 106 the big thumbs up.