10 Best Bellator Fights of 2011
Since it's inception, Bellator Fighting Championships have cultivated a batch of world renowned fighters under their banner.
In 2011, many memorable battles took place, featuring notable fighters such as Brett Cooper, Alexander Shelemenko and former champion Eddie Alvarez.
These men have garnered a lot of praise for their recent fights which have created some of the best, can't miss fights of the year.
Ed West vs. Eduardo Dantas: Bellator 55
In the semifinals for Season 5's bantamweight tournament, young up-and-comers Ed West and Eduardo Dantas engaged in a rollicking back-and-forth, fifteen-minute affair.
Both men had staggered one another on the feet on multiple occasions. In the end, it was the Brazilian's full gauntlet of skills which earned him the contentious decision victory, though both were recognized for having taken part in an exciting battle.
Chris Lozano vs. Brent Weedman: 50
Welterweight notables Lozano and Weedman have proven to be imposing figures in the division and once these two contenders were pitted against one another, all hell broke loose.
The fight went all over the place with exciting exchanges on the feet later parlaying to several takedowns, reversals and submission attempts which had the crowd roaring for more.
In the end, it was the early work turned in by Lozano, which earned him the close decision victory against the well-respected Weedman.
Marlon Sandro vs. Genair Da Silva: Bellator 46
Former Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro made his U.S. debut when he took on fellow Brazilian Genair da Silva this June.
The Nova Uniao star in Sandro struck hard and early, knocking down Da Silva with his infamous right hand, though the wily striker stood tough and for the remainder of the battle went toe-to-toe with the world-renowned fighter.
In the end, Sandro edged Da Silva after fifteen minutes of action were in the books, moving him into the semifinals of Season 5's featherweight tourney.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper: Bellator 44
With both men looking to make their way into the Season 5 middleweight tournament, Cooper and Shlemenko knew that their would be a lot on the line in their pivotal battle, though that didn't stop either man taking their foot off the gas.
These two heavy handed fighters went tit-for-tat, punch-for-punch, dropping one another in the early stages of the fight, though it was ultimately the conditioning and pace of the Russian that prevailed, giving Shlemenko the victory after three rounds of action.
Phillipe Nover vs. Marcin Held: Bellator 59
Season 8 finalist of The Ultimate Fighter, Phillipe Nover had finally gotten his career on track when he bounced back from a career worse three-fight skid, earning a decisive decision victory over Jake Murphy this August.
Nover was looking to earn his second consecutive win when he took on the 19-year-old phenom in Marcin Held. The Polish fighter was content diving for heel hooks galore, though Nover, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, was savvy to the submission.
It was essentially a striker-grappler kind of fight, that the battle was contested all over the place. In the end, it was the submission attempts and relentless of Held that earned him the contested split-decision win.
Zach Makovsky vs. Chad Robichaux: Bellator 44
It wasn't the hard work turned in by Chad Robichaux that made this battle exciting, but more so the high pace and ferocity that Zach Makovsky brought into the cage.
The reigning Bellator 135-pound champion dominated the submission specialist in all areas of the fight, though he favored grinding out the Gracie black belt whilst in mount.
Eventually, Robichaux had little to offer in the waning moments of the fight, were "Fun Size" Makovsky turned up the tempo, finally earning the TKO finish after several unanswered blows elicited the stoppage.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brian Rogers: Bellator 54
In the Season 5 middleweight semifinals, Shlemenko was pitted against Strikeforce veteran Brian Rogers, a heavy-handed striker who hailed from a Karate background, much like the Russian himself.
In the early stages of the fight, it was a Rogers right hand that caught Shlemenko, staggering the "Storm" who had little choice but survive to see the second round.
Once Shlemenko entered the next stanza, the former tournament winner landed a wild spinning backfist and close-quartered knees, which had Rogers in all kinds of trouble.
Though he seemed to recover, Shlemenko waded forward and landed several more knees to the head, which finally earned the stoppage midway through the second round.
Patricky Freire vs. Michael Chandler: Bellator 44
Though the Brazilian juggernaut looked to be on a collision course to face champion Eddie Alvarez in their inevitable battle, it was the unassuming wrestler in Chandler who upset the rising star.
The Xtreme Couture star dictated the pace of the action early, leaping into the air with a flying kick to the face.
His wild style of fighting had Freire confused and winded midway through the second round, where Chandler all out, relentless pace earned him the decision win, making him the Season 5 155-pound tournament champion, earning him a shot against the aforementioned Alvarez.
Jaime Jara vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf: Bellator 35
Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar-esque action, veterans Jaime Jara and Waachiim Spiritwolf went toe-to-toe for three bloody rounds of action.
Waachiim struck hard and early, though the momentum changed when Jara struck down the wily fighter with a crisp left hand. The action went back and forth, where Jara continued to tread forward despite suffering several lacerations to his face.
Spiritwolf earned the decision win after fifteen minutes of action, but both men were praised for their gutsy performance.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler: Bellator 58
Ironically enough, two of the year's best fights may have taken place on the very same night.
While former Pride champions Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua engaged in their own rollicking battle, it was lightweight notables in Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler who rivaled the memorable light heavyweight battle.
Chandler earned his shot at Alvarez, the Bellator 155-pound champion, after besting a field of eight men in the Season 5 tournament and proved to be a formidable opponent.
The undefeated fighter struck hard and early, dropping Alvarez on several occasions with some vicious right hands that had the former Dream star in trouble throughout the first two rounds.
Alvarez stormed back in the third, laying some heavy leather on a noticeably fatigued Chandler, who appeared to be wilting against the cage.
Chandler survived and made it to the fourth round, where he landed another hard right hand, dropping Alvarez and following the Philly fighter to the mat where he deftly applied the rear-naked choke, earning the tap out and the promotion's lightweight title in the process.