Bellator 43 Live Results and Reaction from Newkirk, OK
In the main event, Jay Hieron will be squaring off against judo specialist Rick Hawn in the finals of Bellator's season four welterweight tournament to determine who will get the $100,000 grand prize and a title shot against reigning Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Also on the card, the inspirational Bellator veteran Bryan Baker will be taking on the rough and rugged Joe Riggs in a middleweight showdown.
Also on the main card, Jose Vega will be taking on Chase Bebbe in a bantamweight feature, and Vince Lucero will be up against Ron Sparks in a heavyweight feature attraction.
In undercard action, local fighters Mike Schatz will be taking on Michael Osborn in a lightweight tilt, and Rich Bouphanouvong will be facing David Rickles in a catchweight bout.
Be sure to check back often as results will be posted in real time, and follow all the action on Twitter @BR_MMA.
The final match on the televised portion of Bellator 43 was the welterweight tournament final match-up between Rick Hawn (11-0) of Dracut, MA and Jay Hieron (21-4) of Las Vegas, NV.
Not only does the winner of this match get a $100,000 pay day, but they will also get a shot at Ben Askren for the Bellator welterweight title.
After a 14 month layoff, Hieron was looking to win his third fight in two months.
Hawn, the US Olympian, was looking to keep his perfect professional record in tact.
The first round started with both fighters landing some very good strikes. Hieron was able to move, slip Hawn's punches, and land counter punches with relative ease.
Midway through the first round, it appeared Hieron had found his groove, as he began to pick apart Hawn. This continued until the bell rang to end the round.
Round two began right where round one left off. While Hawn was landing a higher percentage of his strikes than he did in the first round, it was Hieron who was landing the cleaner, harder punches.
At the midway point of the round, Hawn landed a punch that appeared to drop Hieron. It was unclear if it was the punch or if Hieron slipped. but after landing that punch, Hawn's confidence went noticeably up and he began to charge forward more and punch with bad intentions.
The last minute of the round saw both fighters throwing bombs at each other, before Hieron got a very brief takedown as the round came to a close.
As round three began, Hawn looked to be the the more energized of the two fighters. While Hieron was throwing his unorthodox strikes, it was Hawn that was landing the better punches.
Hawn continued to push forward, landing his jab and right hand, while Hieron would hand a strike here and there. This trend continued for the duration of the final round.
Official result—Jay Hieron def Rick Hawn via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Hieron will move on to fight Ben Askren at a date to be announced and moves his record 22-4. Rick Hawn drops to 11-1.
Bryan Baker successful in second comeback fight; earns second round TKO victory.
The third match of the evening put Bellator season two middleweight tournament finalist Bryan Baker (14-2) of West Covina, CA against the UFC veteran Joe Riggs (34-12) of Phoenix, AZ.
Baker is a very inspirational figure in the sport of MMA. He was diagnosed with leukemia last year, yet he continued to fight on. After going through chemo therapy, Baker made a successful return to the cage, earning a victory over Jeremy Horn.
Now, Baker's leukemia is in full remission, and he is back to 100 percent.
After a touch of gloves, Baker and Riggs began the felling out process. Both fighters showed respect for the others striking prowess as not much happened for the first two minutes, until Baker landed an accidental low blow on Riggs.
As the round went on, the crowd became restless because of the lack of action. Around three and a half minutes in to the first round, Baker landed a flying knee, which up until that point of the fight was the most significant strike of the round.
After throwing a high kick was was barely blocked by Riggs, Baker began to open up more with his strikes. As the round came to an end, Baker went for a flying knee, and Riggs landed a counter right that stunned Baker as the bell rang to end the round.
The second round started off just as slowly as the first. For the first minute, both fighters just circled each other, much to the dismay of the crowd. Riggs finally opened up and landed a pair of body punches.
Baker finally pressed the action and ate a pair of right hooks for his efforts. Baker threw another flying knee that missed, but then secured the clinch and landed some big knees to Riggs' midsection.
After an unsuccessful takedown attempt, Baker started to get tagged more and more by Riggs's counters. That was until Baker landed a flush left hook to Riggs' jaw that put him down and out.
Baker could have landed more punches before the referee finally stepped in to stop the fight, but Baker decided against it as he realized Riggs was done.
Official result—Bryan Baker def Joe Riggs via TKO at 3:53 of round three.
During the post fight interview, Baker proposed to his girlfriend in the cage. Thankfully, she said yes.
Baker improves his record to 15-2, and Riggs falls to 34-15.
Chase Bebbe wins qualifier match; earns spot in Bellator's season five bantamweight tournament.
The second bout of the MTV2 televised portion of the event pitted Jose Vega (9-4) of Knob Noster, MO against Chase Bebbe (17-7) of Chicago, IL.
In Bellator's season three bantamweight tournament, Vega made his way to the semi-finals before being defeated by Ed West.
Chase Bebbe, the former WEC bantamweight champion, was looking to make an impressive debut in Bellator.
The winner of this match would punch their ticket to Bellator's season five bantamweight tournament.
The round started off with the fighters exchanging in center cage. Vega landed some heavy kicks to Bebbe's lead leg, and Bebbe landed some nice punches.
Vega was able to defend against two guillotine choke attempts by Bebbe before they once again started to trade punches. Bebbe showed that he was the more technical striker before taking Vega to the ground.
Vega was able to get the fight back to the standing position after a brief ground struggle. Once again, Bebbe went for another guillotine choke. This time, he jumped guard and forced Vega to tap.
Official Result—Chase Bebbe defeats Jose Vega at 4:06 of round one via submission (guillotine choke).
Chase Bebbe improves to 18-7 and earns a spot in Bellator's season five bantamweight tournament. Jose Vega drops to 9-5.
Heavy hitting Ron Sparks showed he has a good ground game as he submits Vince Lucero in the first round.
In the first bout of the televised portion of Bellator 43, Vince Lucero (20-18) of Casa Grande, AZ took on up-and-coming Ron Sparks (6-0) of Louisville, KY in a heavyweight bout.
Before the fight, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told BleacherReport.com/MMA that he was afraid this was going to be the biggest mismatch on the card.
The first round began with both fighters exchanging punches in the middle of the cage. It was very clear on the on-start that Sparks was the more polished striker, as he landed the better of the punches and kicks.
Less than two minutes in to the opening round, Sparks landed a kick and punch that dropped Lucero. from there, Sparks got side control, and locked in a key lock that forced Lucero to tap.
From the outcome, it looks like Rebney's prediction was correct. Don't be surprised if we see Sparks in Bellator's next heavyweight tournament.
Official Result—Ron Sparks defeated Vince Lucero via submission (key lock) at 2:18 of the first round.
Ron Sparks runs his perfect record up to 7-0, while Vince Lucero drops to 20-19.
Despite starting off slow, Rickles pulls of second round submission.
In the second fight of the unaired portion of the card, Rich Bouphanouvong (1-3) of Greytown, MO took on David Rickles (5-0) of Darby, KS.
Once again, both fighters came out hard and fast. After a scuffle on the feet, Rich took the fight to the ground with a devistating slam.
After landing some heavy ground-and-pound, Rickles went for a triangle choke. Rich was able to work his way out of the submission attempt and continued to work over Rickles with punches and elbows from the guard.
After eating many punches, Rickles was able to get to his feet and tagged Rich with a few very good punches before being taken back down.
Rich continued to work from Rickles guard, landing punches and elbows to the head and body until the first round came to an end.
The second round began with Rickles landing a nice combination of punches, kicks and knees. After dropping Rich, Rickles landed a knee to Rich's head as he was going for a takedown. From there, Rickles was able to lock in a triangle choke and Rich was forced to tap.
Official result—David Rickles defeates Rich Bouphanouvoug via submission (triangle choke) at 1:11 of round two.
Rickles improves to 7-0; Bouphanouvong drops to 1-4.
Michael Osborn impressive in front of his hometown crowd in victory
Bellator 43 kicked off tonight from the First Council Casino in Newkirk, OK with a local feature bout between Mike Schatz (3-3) and Michael Osborn (2-3) in the lightweight division.
Both being from Oklahoma, it's needless to say that both fighters got a huge ovation from the sold out crowd.
The first round started off quickly, as the fighters clinched quickly. After a brief ground battle that saw both fighters on top at one point of thime, they got back to their feed and started exchanging heavy leather.
Osborn was able to get the fight to the ground and started unloading heavy leather until the referee was forced to step in and stop the action.
Official result: Michael Osborn def. Mike Schatz via submission due to strikes at 1:58 of the first round.
Osborn improves his record to 3-3, while Schatz falls to 3-4.