Bellator concluded its ninth season Friday evening with Bellator 109, an action-packed and stacked card presented live from the Sands Casino-Resort in Bethlehem, Pa.
The night's festivities featured a middleweight title fight between the champion, Alexander Shlemenko, and the hard-hitting Doug "The Rhino" Marshall, as well as two tournament finals.
In the lightweight bracket, Will Brooks took on Alexander "Tiger" Sarnavskiy, while Rick Hawn battled Ron Keslar to close out the welterweight tournament.
The event also marked the promotional debut of former UFC lightweight Terry Etim, who faced Patrick Cenoble in the main card's opening bout.
Here's how the fights played out:
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Doug Marshall
The outspoken, sometimes abrasive Marshall is not happy about this one.
After being taken down twice in the opening round against Shlemenko, Marshall stood and looked to unleash some of his patented overhand rights.
Unfortunately for him, Shlemenko uncorked a vicious left hook to the liver that buckled Marshall, and the end was near. Sensing his opponent's pain, Shlemenko sent another liver-seeking missile at Marshall, and the bout was done.
Marshal crumbled into a heap of tattooed muscle and bone on the mat, and Shlemenko defended his middleweight title in a blowout.
Undeterred by Shlemenko's dominance, Marshall exuded confidence at the post-fight press conference, saying (expletives included to truly capture his essence):
It's really hard to get up here and run my f***ing mouth like I wanted to after I got put down by a body shot. A few things that kind of threw me off guard: First of all, that f***in' dude don't hit as hard as I do, and that's the bottom line. He had some great takedowns—I was not expecting that at all—I thought he was this f***in' badass stand-up fighter, and he's good. There's no doubt. He caught me, he dropped me with a f***in' liver shot, but I'm going to be back, and I'm going to smash through that f***in' tournament like I did last time, and I'm going to be seeing that man again.
Rick Hawn vs. Ron Keslar
Rick Hawn knocks dudes out.
After a rough first round that saw his opponent, Ron Keslar, catch him with a few vicious knees and completely control the pace, Hawn adjusted and struck.
After piecing Keslar up a bit in Round 2 and finding his range, Hawn stormed out of the gates in Round 3 and repeatedly blasted Keslar with uppercuts and overhands right from Hades.
The knockout was ferocious (replay courtesy of gif wizard @ZProphet_MMA), and it sealed the welterweight tournament final in Hawn's name.
Hawn is $100,000 richer, and he is headed for a showdown with Bellator standout Douglas Lima for the vacant welterweight title.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed Hawn's future in the post-fight press conference:
Rick Hawn had shown his power for us at '55, where he was knocking almost everyone out, and the question was: Could he bring that power with him back to 170? And you saw it tonight...The Doug Lima/Rick Hawn fight for our welterweight title is going to be electrifying; I can't wait to see it. You're going to get to see it live and free next season.
Will Brooks vs. Alexander "Tiger" Sarnavskiy
Tiger Sarnavskiy strolled into his lightweight tournament final fight with Will Brooks on an impressive streak.
In 2013, Sarnavskiy fought four times inside the Bellator cage, winning all four times via submission, three in the first round.
Will Brooks did not concern himself with streaks, however.
Taking Sarnavskiy down at will, Brooks controlled the action every step of the way in this one, earning the unanimous decision victory and cashing a cool $100,000 check in his name.
The Brooks that fought at Bellator 109 was by far the most polished product fans have seen in professional action, and he immediately established himself as a legitimate contender for the lightweight title with his dominant performance.
Rebney summarized Brooks' breakout fight, saying, "We've got another world-class lightweight in Bellator, and his name's Will Brooks."
Terry Etim vs. Patrick Cenoble
This was not the ideal fight to kick off the main card on Spike TV.
After preliminary action saw all six fights end via some form of finish, Etim and Cenoble engaged in a slow-paced grappling fest that left the crowd and viewers at home angry and disappointed.
Chants of "Stand them up!" were only drowned out by an ensemble of boos, as Etim ground out a clear-cut unanimous decision victory against the overmatched Cenoble.
Etim wasted no time in the post-fight press conference to apologize for this lackluster affair:
To all you guys, I'm sorry that tonight I couldn't finish the fight. For anybody that's watched any of my fights, I always try to finish fights from start to finish of every single fight. Obviously, tonight I didn't finish the fight, but I guarantee you: The next time any of you see me in the cage, I'm going to be finishing the fight, whether it's by knockout or submission.
Lester Caslow defeats Jay Haas via submission (guillotine), Round 3
Brent Primus defeats Brett Glass via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1
Bubba Jenkins defeats Ian Rammel via TKO, Round 3
Goiti Yamauchi defeats Saul Almeida via KO, Round 1
Blagoi Ivanov defeats Keith Bell via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1
Mike Bannon defeats Ahsan Abdullah via submission (arm triangle choke), Round 1