Bellator continued its first season on Spike TV in New Mexico with the semifinals of the lightweight tournament and a title fight between champion Christian M'Pumbu and Attila Vegh. On the undercard was local boxing sensation Holly Holm, giving a little juice to the normally anonymous Spike.com portion of the card.
It was an exciting night of fights—until the main event. M'Pumbu and Vegh put on one of the worst fights of the year. Technically, Vegh was the winner. But, in truth, no one could possibly feel like a winner after that bout. Certainly not anyone in the audience.
That's the beauty of MMA. A man can win a fight on paper but lose in the eyes of the crowd with a tepid performance. Likewise, the loser of a close and exciting fight can gain stature and make his name in the broader MMA community.
So, who were the real winners and losers at Bellator 91? Click on to find out.
I love that one of the fighters is named Attila. Beyond that? There wasn't much else to cheer about.
This was one of the worst fights in ages. Neither man showed any fire, athleticism or anything beyond the most rudimentary skill.
I asked Twitter what they thought. Here were some of the responses:
Attila Vegh strikes me as the kind of guy who didn't know indoor plumbing existed until very recently.— jim genia (@jim_genia) March 1, 2013
@mmaencyclopedia Nothing. I've been saying forever that he is the worst champion in any big MMA promotion in a long time. He's awful— Luca Fury (@GamblingFury) March 1, 2013
I also think I'd prefer to spend some family time with the Sisters from Shawshank than rewatch that main card.— Rich Hansen (@MMATorchRich) March 1, 2013
God hates me. #bellator
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) March 1, 2013
My tag team partner Jeremy Botter summed it up nicely. That was terrible.
Ed West does a lot of things I really enjoy:
A. Spinning stuff. Tae Kwon Do kicks and plenty of weird angles and looks.
B. Dragon Balls. Carlos Newton used to do them after a fight. West one-upped him by doing it in a fight. According to my Dragon Ball Z friends, the move is called "The Kamehameha Wave." If you're curious, no, it doesn't work. At all.
C. Simulated wrestling match with his cornerman after the fight after slamming him down from the top of the cage. Haven't seen that since Dokonjonosuke Mishima in Shooto.
Oh yeah—I also liked his head-kick knockout of Josh Montoya. That was something.
I'm not into mixing my "total nonstop action" kind of TNA with the other sort of TNA. I suppose your mileage may vary. If you are into girls in bikinis performing submissions on each other, well, Bellator is there for you.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here—the new Bellator App for the iPhone and iPad is spectacular. Not only does it allow you to follow real-time stats (and when I say real time I am not kidding) but it includes a wealth of information about every prominent Bellator fighter.
For example, before the lightweight semifinal bout between Will Brooks and Saad Awad, I didn't know much about the 29-year-old Awad. With one glance at the Bellator App, I knew his record, his basic biographical information and the striking and grappling success rates for all of his Bellator fights.
One word: tremendous.
Speaking of Awad, a former The Ultimate Fighter contestant, there honestly wasn't much to learn about him on Bellator's App. We've only seen him twice in the cage on Spike, and neither time lasted as long as even a single minute.
We do know this—he has power, he will swarm and the first 30 seconds of any fight are going to be can't-miss television.
Jason Fischer didn't have much for David Rickels in a rematch of their fight from November. Both fights were unanimous-decision wins for Rickels—but that's a little deceiving. The first was a close fight.
This one was a blowout.
Rickels dominated the striking, both in volume and power. He outlanded Fischer 116-43 and had four submission attempts. Fischer was on the defensive from the first minute all the way through the 15th. It wasn't that way in their first fight.
How to explain the difference? Perhaps it's because, as Rickels revealed in a pre-fight interview, his beard is dripping testosterone? I'm not sure if that's the actual reason, but it certainly seems conceivable.
Holly Holm is a big name in women's boxing, to the extent anyone can be a big name in women's boxing. She's been a world champion and is the veteran of 40 combined professional fights. While she isn't a veteran in the MMA cage, she's a top fighter and should be matched in a way that makes sense.
I understand she was in her hometown. I understand that Bellator wanted her to get a win. But Katie Merrill wasn't appropriate competition. She looked, as announcer Jimmy Smith repeated several times, like she is a true 125-pounder. She doesn't belong at bantamweight. She certainly doesn't belong in a fight with the likes of Holly Holm.
Considering all that, I don't think it's a win for Holm, even though she got the finish. The fact that this fight went to the second round should be a little embarrassing for Holm and her team.
Attila Vegh def. Christian M'Pumbu via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 50-45)
Saad Awad def. Will Brooks via TKO (punches) in Round 1
David Rickels def. Jason Fischer via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Ed West def. Josh Montoya via KO (head kick) in Round 2
Holly Holm def. Katie Merrill via TKO (punch & soccer kick to the body) in Round 2