Bellator put together the best card in company history for its season finale at the Revel in Atlantic City, N.J., with a collection of stars, title fights and tournament finals. The first season on Spike is now in the books—and it has to be considered at least a minor success.
What's great about Bellator is its insistence on following its own path. The promotion doesn't try to be "UFC-Lite." It utilizes a strict athletic architecture, demanding fighters earn championships and title fights in a series of eight-man tournaments.
Although far from matching the kind of numbers the UFC did on the same network, Bellator drew a solid audience that seemed to stay steady throughout the season. It wasn't a home run, but a solid single, giving the promotion a chance to introduce its stars and make new ones with tournaments in five different weight classes.
The season's final event was headlined by Pat Curran, arguably among the very best featherweights in the entire world. But Curran wasn't the lone star on the card. Each fight on the main card was intriguing and meaningful. And, after seeing two more contenders born through fire and blood, it's safe to say Season 2 looks even more promising than the opening stanza on Spike.
Rick Hawn vs. Karo Parisyan
It feels like a century since Parisyan set the MMA world on fire, winning and losing great fights, with Nick Diaz and Diego Sanchez respectively, and putting on a clinic of unintentional comedy with his brief "bro-centric" appearance on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Struggles with anxiety and prescription drugs knocked his hype train right off the tracks. Now? He's a sad remnant of his former self. Belly jiggling, he was knocked out by Rick Hawn, a former judo rival, in the second round.
Karo's reaction time, reflexes are not that money.— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) April 5, 2013
Olympian 1, Pretender 0. Not that Hawn used a lot of judo to defeat Parisyan. Slugfest. #bellator— Beau Dure (@duresport) April 5, 2013
Result: Rick Hawn defeats Karo Parisyan by TKO (punches), Round 2
Doug Marshall vs. Brett Cooper
I've said my piece about Doug Marshall, his Iron Cross tattoo and pathetic slogan "Activate the hate." You can have your head shaved bald. You might be able to explain an Iron Cross. But combine those two things with a hate-based slogan? I think it speaks for itself.
All that said, Marshall hits like a freight train. No one can stand up to his right hand, at least no one named Brett Cooper. The California-based grappler crumpled on contact and Marshall earned a shot at the middleweight title.
The real action was after the fight. Marshall got in an extra shot after Cooper was clearly out, then mean mugged over his prone body for what felt like forever, mocking him with the "go to sleep" sign. That was Tank Abbot-esque in its extended squirm factor.
Before you mock the Rhino's ebullient celebration, ask yourself this: Do you have any idea how many Miller Lites one can buy with $100,000?— smoogy (@smoogymma) April 5, 2013
Result: Doug "The Rhino" Marshall defeats Brett Cooper by KO (punch), Round 1.
Before the fight, Frodo, dead eyes staring at the camera, talked about how looking at someone funny in his village in Dagestan could cost you your life. When did the Shire get so violent?
Dagestan's tourism board must be like "Khasbulaev you don't have to tell people about the random murders."— David Neighbor (@dneighbor) April 5, 2013
After sharing this terrifying tidbit, Frodo went out to put a hurting on Mike Richman, a former Marine with love of country in his heart and loads of power in his left hand.
The fight was a three-round masterpiece. Frodo never stopped coming forward, throwing combinations with both hands, always ending with a thudding kick to the body. Richman was patient and countered nicely with power shots, but Frodo was persistent, like a 5'5" Eastern European Terminator who kept coming and coming, winning a unanimous 30-27 decision, $100,000 and a featherweight title shot.
Result: Magomedrasul "Frodo" Khasbulaev, defeats Mike Richman by unanimous decision.
Pat Curran defeats Shahbulat Shamhalaev by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1.