Bellator 85: What's Next for the Winners and Losers?
Photo credit: TheSportsFeast.com
Bellator 85 was the first Bellator event to air on Spike TV. And it must be a good feeling to see such an important debut come out just the way you drew it up.
The fights, the fighters and the show itself delivered in a big way. By one metric or another, every televised fight was entertaining. There were competitive matches, stoppages galore and two thrilling (and educational) title clashes.
What's next for the winners and losers? Read on.
Winner: Pat Curran
Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America
Featherweight champ Pat Curran and Patricio "Pitbull" Freire kicked off the evening in style with a five-round stand-up battle pitting Curran's tight jab game against Pitbull's more wild and powerful punching aggression.
Curran emerged with a split-decision win, though Freire undoubtedly took at least two rounds. Ultimately, Curran did more damage and landed more blows, according to Compustrike.
No rest for the weary, though. Bellator Season 6 tournament winner Daniel Straus waits in the wings.
Loser: Patricio "Pitbull" Freire
Photo credit: Bellator MMA
He put on a great fight, but it's hard to know what happens next for Patricio Freire. Do they make him go back through a tournament? They certainly can't push Straus aside.
It's entirely possible that Pitbull's strong performance Thursday night might trigger the first invocation of Bellator's rematch clause, which just took effect a few weeks ago.
The clause states that a deserving title-match loser need not win another tournament to get a rematch. It seems fair for Freire to get that rematch if he can win a rebound fight.
Winner: Mikhail Zayats
Photo credit: groundandpound.de
After pounding out Renato Sobral in the first round, Mikhail Zayats is the latest Russian fighter to roll off the line and dominate right out of the box after hitting American shores.
Was he really that good, or is Babalu just finished? We may know more soon, as Zayats advances to face Jacob Noe in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament semifinal.
Loser: Renato "Babalu" Sobral
Photo credit: Sherdog
Zayats knocked Babalu sideways with a spinning backfist, then harried a backpedaling Babalu along the fence with punches, eventually landing a left hook on the end of Babalu's nose. A few ground strikes later, and it was over.
Babalu, now 37 (and man, do I feel old), may need to reassess things after a quick and unceremonious exit from the tournament many expected him to win, or at least do well in.
As far as this guy is concerned, here's hoping Babalu comes back and gives it one more try.
Winner: Jacob Noe
Photo credit: Keith Mills/Sherdog
In the evening's third light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bout (Emanuel Newton also defeated Atanas Djambazov on the undercard), Jacob Noe pounded out Seth Petruzelli.
To be fair, Noe did appear to get a little help from Lady Luck. Petruzelli was more than holding his own, but fell hard after shooting for a takedown and looked like he may have injured his knee.
Give Noe credit for swarming and finishing the job. Next up for Noe: Mr. Zayats.
Loser: Seth Petruzelli
Photo credit: Scott Petersen/MMA Weekly
In his pre-fight interview, Seth Petruzelli seemed to indicate that this was his last MMA ride. If so, credit Petruzelli, 33, for wringing a pretty memorable career out of himself.
A first-round TKO probably wasn't how he wanted to go out, and hey, maybe he won't. But if he does, he can relax on that cushy pile of Kimbo Slice money.
Winner: Michael Chandler
Photo credit: TheSportsFeast
After a dominant second-round submission victory over a dangerous Rick Hawn, lightweight champion Michael Chandler, in his first title defense, may have established himself as the best fighter in Bellator.
Who does he get next? It's not rhetorical; I'm really asking. He's already dominated Marcin Held. Maybe Dave Jansen?
Loser: Rick Hawn
Photo credit: Sherdog
That was not pretty for Rick Hawn. But the judoka with the heavy hands should still have a future in Bellator. He'll just have to go back into a tournament; it is the Bellator way.
If he goes that rout, how about a quarterfinal bout with Mike Guymon? He's another MMA veteran who lost Thursday night, in his case by knockout to Savant Young.