Monday, 25 November 2013

Bellator 109 on Viva - TV Review

We've reached the end of the line as we take a look at the season ending lightweight and welterweight tournament finals at Bellator 109, shown this past Saturday night on Viva here in Britain.

The show began with lightweight action as Patrick Cenoble went up against Terry Etim.

The slow methodical approach was the order of the day for the debuting Brit. As soon as Etim took the fight to the ground in the opening seconds of the first round it signalled the start of his dominance of the entire fight. Cenoble just had no defence against his shots, and when the fight reached the ground Etim could just do whatever he wanted, whether it was going for a rear naked choke when he took his man's back or just moving from position to position so he could keep Cenoble grounded.

Cenoble had a few brief seconds of offence during the striking exchanges, and again towards the end of the fight when he managed to end up in Etim's guard, but by then it was definitely too little, too late.

As for the judges, no surprises there as Etim took the unanimous decision.

The lightweight tournament final saw Will Brooks going up against Tiger Sarnavskiy.

This was the battle of the finisher against the grinder. Sarnavskiy route to the final featured first round finishes, while Brooks had been content to leave his fate in the hands of the judges, which this certainly made for an interesting and somewhat one-sided encounter.

There were many parallels with the opener as Brooks was able to take his Russian opponent down with ease, and from there he went on to dominate the entire three rounds. Sarnavskiy just didn't seem to know what to do as Brooks went to work with the ground and pound, and as this was the final he was allowed to throw a few elbows into the mix as well.

That was pretty much how the entire fight panned out, but perhaps what was most perplexing was the advice from Sarnavskiy's corner. Instead of telling him what to do to counter Brooks' attacks they kept telling him what Brooks had done.

So with the grinder putting in another good stint it was on to the judges once again as Brooks' dominance earned him the unanimous decision and the tournament win.

The welterweight tournament final saw Ron Keslar taking on Rick Hawn.

The first fight of the show that didn't go the distance saw Keslar putting in a good stint in the first round after he scored with the takedown. Hawn seemed a little helpless as Keslar went to work with the ground and pound.

Hawn began to come back into the fight from the second round onwards. He did a great job with his left jab as he worked his way back in. Keslar's left eye began to swell as the onslaught continued, and as the second became the third Hawn continued his good work.

With the round just a few seconds old Hawn managed to rock his man a number of times, particular with his dirty boxing uppercuts. By this time Keslar looked out on his feet, and a big right hand sent him crashing to the mat. The referee quickly stepped in to give Hawn tournament winning knockout.

The main event saw Doug Marshall challenging Alexander Shlemenko for the Middleweight title.

This one began with a brief water testing period before Shlemenko scored with an early takedown, but if it was the Russian's intent to keep his man on the ground then Marshall spoiled that party a little when he quickly got back to the feet.

In between striking exchanges this was how the fight panned out over the next couple of minutes, and it didn't take the champion long to realise that he had to change tact a little as he began to rely more on his striking.

The change worked. Marshall had been having some success as time went on, but when Shlemenko connected with a right to the liver Marshall was in pain. The American tried to fight back, but a second body shot from Shlemenko sent him crumbling to the canvas. That was it as far as the referee was concerned as he waved the fight to give Shlemenko the title retaining TKO win.

In conclusion - the final show of the season proved to be pretty entertaining, and although some of the action didn't exactly meet with the approval of the fans in attendance this writer enjoyed all of the fight action.

As for the fight of the night no-prize I did consider giving the award to Alexander Shlemenko's win over Doug Marshall, but in the end that came a close second to Will Brooks' dominating performance against Tiger Sarnavskiy.

So with all of that out of the way there's just a couple of things left to do. The first is to give Bellator's final show of the year the thumbs up, and the second is to give the season the thumbs up. Even though I missed a couple of shows due to other commitments overall my first experience of a full Bellator season was a pretty favourable one, and I hope that they make a return visit to British television screens in the near future.