Bellator Fighting Championships put on their very first show for fight fans in the Arizona desert this past Saturday night. Setting up their weekly event in Yuma Arizona, Bjorn Rebney and the staff of Bellator put on a show that lit up an already scorching desert evening.
All the competitors, both local undercard athletes and gentlemen who represented the televised portion of the event, put on an amazing display of MMA action. The MMA faithful who came out and endured a brief bout with the relentless Arizona heat were treated to a spectacular evening of fights.
Brenden Tierney wasted no time as he was rocked early in the first fight of the night only to bounce back and slap a filthy armbar submission on his opponent Dano Moore. It was a great start to an impressive night of fights.
Other strong contributions to a great evening of fights were not seen by nationwide audiences watching the event on MTV 2. But for those fight fans sitting cage-side live at the beautiful Cocopah Resort and Casino, when local standouts Michael Parker and Nick Piedmont hooked up, they saw a fight that set a tone for the entire evening.
When a Joe Warren or a Zach Makosvsky takes his corner in the Bellator cage, he has made his name under that banner. For local fighters who earned their way onto a Bellator undercard, this may be their only chance to shine and earn an invitation to fight again for such a prestigious promotion.
So, when these two local 145 pound competitors took their corners, they had a wealth of respect for one another as local guys, but they touched gloves and went to work on each other. In a back and forth battle that featured precision and aggression mixed with heart and desire, Nick "No Limit" Piedmont and Michael "War Monkey" Parker fought to a grueling split decision.
Representing two Tucson fight camps, these two gentlemen made their corners and their local fans proud as they left it all in the cage exchanging blow for blow, attacking and defending submissions and takedowns. This fight had it all and, while Piedmont came out with the split decision, neither fighter should be disappointed with their performance.
The crowd showed their appreciation for the war they saw in the cage with a round of applause.
Another point worth noting on the undercard was when local Yuma standout Tyler Bialecki squared off with another Arizona fighter Anthony Birchak. Bialecki has a strong reputation for being an extremely scrappy fighter and Birchak found himself in some sticky situations early but was able to fight through submission attempt after submission attempt to sink in a deep darce choke.
Silencing the local crowd which heavily favored the local fighter Bialecki, Birchak offered one of the most impressive submissions of the night. Insiders tell Hurtsbad MMA this was a submission that Birchak and his corner were working heavily on while warming up for this fight.
As for the main card, while the fighters had a tough act to follow they answered the call with flying colors. The televised portion of Bellator 41 featured a little bit of everything from an amazing submission, to a devastating knockout, and a couple back and forth wars.
In the first fight on MTV 2 Daniel Strauss squared off with Kenny Foster in a semi final bout for the featherweight tournament.
While Foster was game and has his moments, Strauss was clearly the superior fighter. He punished Foster, even hurting him badly with a flying knee in the first round. Strauss is a gargantuan fighter at 145 and it showed in his performance as he manhandled his opponent with multiple hip tosses and an overall dominance that could not be ignored.
Strauss went on to stop the fight in the third with a filthy guillotine choke. At the post-fight press conference, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney pointed to Strauss as a fighter who exemplifies what the theories of Bellator represent.
"Daniel Strauss is kind of what Bellator is all about. He came into this organization. He fought on what we call dark fights. He was not on television. And he won and he won and he won."
Mr. Rebney went on to say, "And he just kept winning. And he got into our tournament and he has just taken advantage of this tournament. And what you've got with Daniel Strauss, you've got a world class fighter who has taken advantage of an opportunity where an opportunity might not have come through another organization."
"That's what we are all about from the tournament perspective. If you're the best and you win you move on and you get the opportunity."
Such is the nature of Bellator, there is not doubt what so ever.
Up next was a non title super fight for the Bellator Bantamweight Champion Zack Makovsky. He faced submission wizard Chad Robichaux. While Robichaux proved time and time again why he is a game and capable competitor, Makovsky showed why he is a Bellator champ.
Zack repeatedly displayed dominance over the dangerous submission fighter both escaping and applying submission attempts, Makovsky showed an ability to fight anywhere. Robichaux also proved his ability to roll and hang with a Bellator World Champion but in the end it was the vicious ground and pound of Makovsky that ended the bout in the third by TKO.
Win, lose or draw, these two guys put on a hell of a show for those watching from home and sitting cage-side in Yuma.
Up next was the rematch between Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and Wilson Reis in another featherweight semi-final bout. This one took a moment to heat up but when it did everyone was on their feet. Both fighters were very impressive.
Reis seemed more aggressive as Pitbull landed the cleaner shots and was more calculated. Reis pushed the pace in the first and second rounds and escaped a couple submission attempts by Pitbull. It was clear early that Freire had the upper hand.
That notion was solidified in the third as Freire landed a vicious combination on Reis that rocked him badly and eventually led to Freire absolutely dropping him cold up against the cage. It was a spectacular finish that moves Freire to the finals to square off with Daniel Strauss.
Finally in the main event Bellator Lightweight Champion Joe Warren fought Marcos Galvao in a superfight that was full of back and forth action.
What really stood out in this fight was the repeated takedown attempts by Warren that were just stuffed by Galvao. Galvao was able to not only stifle the shots but use the momentum to find his way into Warren's guard or at least top position when the finally went down.
Galvao threatened to finish early in the first after stopping a takedown and taking Warren's back. It was quite impressive to see Galvao control the grappling portions of the match against such an accomplished and amazing wrestler like Warren.
At the end of the day, though, Joe Warren is proving to be near impossible to finish. Such was apparent when Galvao opened the second round with two consecutive flying knees that rocked Warren but did not stop him. He just kept coming regardless of the punishment Galvao was dishing out.
The knees just kept coming, it was unreal. It seemed for every takedown attempt that was stuffed Warren was offered a flying knee for his troubles. Somehow he kept his wits through multiple knees and stayed in the fight.
Warren seemed very predictable, snapping off short combinations followed up by immediate takedown attempts. Galvoa was clearly on to the formula.
In the third round, Galvao dropped Warren with a filthy leg kick. In this round, however, Warren really turned it up and secured a couple takedowns and punished Galvao on the ground. Warren absolutely dominated and smothered his opponent in the third.
Much to the surprise of just about everyone watching, Galvao wound up losing a decision to Warren. What stunned most viewers was Galvao's ability to negate Warren's attack for two rounds and doing plenty of solid work against the champ only to go on and lose the fight.
While Warren was very solid and dominant in the third, Galvao controlled the fight up until that round.
In the end, the decision should not take away from the performance of either fighter. They both left it all in the cage and put on a stunning show for their fans.
That, fight fans, really was the tone of the entire evening. It started with local fan favorites on the undercard and was capped off with the top shelf veterans who sealed the deal on the televised card. All in all, Bellator showed once again why they are one of the premier organizations in this sport.
The fans in the Arizona desert simply can not wait to see them return. It can not happen soon enough, even if it is only going to get hotter.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA.