Do you like finishes? If so, then you might have enjoyed Bellator 88, which went down on Thursday night from Duluth, Ga. Only two fights on the entire card went to decision.
In the main event, Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao battled for Bellator's middleweight title. The first three bouts of the latest featherweight tournament completed the card (the fourth quarterfinal happened during the prelims).
What do the various paths ahead look like for each main-card winner and loser? Read on to find out.
Result: Popo Bezerra def. Genair da Silva by submission (armbar), 1:40, Rd. 1
It didn't last long, but it sure was frenetic. Bezerra put da Silva in a heap about 20 seconds in with a right hand. Da Silva recovered, but it was all Popo once the ground exchange started. Da Silva left an arm exposed and tried to dance out of the hold once it was on, but nothing doing.
Up next for Bezerra: Mike Richman. Oh, sorry...spoiler alert!
He wasn't completely useless out there. He gained some positions and got some hammerfists.
Hammerfists are good, you know?
But he wasn't great, either.
He's now 13-5 overall and 2-2 in Bellator. Assuming they don't kick him to the curb, I probably wouldn't stick him back into a tournament. He'd make a stiff undercard test for any promotional newcomer, though.
Result: Mike Richman def. Mitch Jackson (TKO), 4:57, Rd. 1
On the feet, Richman picked his way through Jackson's defense and met scant resistance when the action moved groundward. The final nail landed home with just a few seconds left in the opening round.
The win sets up a tantalizing striker/grappler matchup with Popo Bezerra in the tourney semifinal.
Even if he paid his way to Bellator by cashing in tomato cans, Mitch Jackson is still 19-3 overall. And now he can say he's a Bellator veteran. That ought to serve him well in one of our nation's many fine, fine regional promotions.
Result: Marlon Sandro def. Akop Stepanyan by majority decision
This was a close fight, particularly in the first round. A point deduction for fence-grabbing levied on Stepanyan—justified, I might add—may have made the difference.
In any case, aging lion Sandro now gets Frodo Khasbulaev in the semifinals. Looks like that might be an "epic quest" for Sandro, if you take my meaning.
He's 0-2 in Bellator, but both came against better opponents (the other was Wagnney Fabiano).
Given the Russian tradition of success and general prolificness in Bellator, I'd say he definitely deserves another shot. I might suggest another highly touted but relatively recently derailed featherweight in Ronnie Mann.
Division: Middleweight (for Bellator middleweight title)
Result: Alexander Shlemenko def. Maiquel Falcao by TKO (punches), 2:18, Rd. 2
You'd expect a dude from Siberia to be rugged. Alexander Shlemenko values your expectations.
He expressed that value on Thursday night by being a bad, bad man. Five seconds or so after a crippling punch to the liver, Shlemenko rained somewhat weird but completely brutal ground-and-pound to Falcao's body. Dan Miragliotta, frightened, called a stop to the contest.
Shlemenko is extremely serious, but Bellator has more serious divisions than middleweight. Who's next, then? The winner of the next Bellator middleweight tourney, of course, jumping off next Thursday at Bellator 89. In the meantime, speaking theoretically, Bellator newcomer and non-tourney-participant Bruno Santos is undefeated at 13-0. Can we work him into the next go-around? I'm not sure he's a lesser threat than anyone in the current field.
Up next for Falcao? Maybe consider not talking on your cell phone during a staredown with a dude from freaking Siberia.
If Falcao masters that course, he'll be ready for one of the castoffs of the current tournament. If Andreas Spang doesn't make it through, I think I'd watch a rematch.