In a week marked by momentous news, it’s almost a relief to spend Saturday night watching dudes beat the stuffing out of each other. So it was with Bellator 48, which marked the final installment of the promotion’s “Summer Series”, the last round of their latest featherweight tournament, and the first time the MTV2 fistic offering aired since SpikeTV suddenly had a vacancy in their MMA show lineup. How did things go? Although no programming changes were announced, there most certainly was a new 145-pound top contender added to the mix, and as weekend offerings go, this one panned out in highly-entertaining fashion.
You know what’s awesome? When a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and a Daniel Gracie-trained brown belt come out, stand in front of each other and simply throw bombs. Such was the case with lightweights Rene Nazare and Juan Barrantes, who spent the first half of their opening round blasting each other, and, in the case of the Brazilian, dishing out the kind of boxing beatdown that probably took a couple years off of the Costa Rican’s life. For the rest of Round 1 and all through Round 2, Nazare effortlessly took his opponent down and smashed him from above – so much so that in between the second and third frame, the doctor deemed Barrantes’ now swollen eye to be untenable and called the bout. For his part, Barrantes showed no signs of quitting, and at various points had gone for a few guillotines and a triangle. But it was all Nazare all the time, and he looked impressive scoring the “W”.
Add former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez to the list of fighters considered in the twilight of their careers. Meanwhile, you can count Kimbo Slice-killer Seth Petruzelli as a force to be reckoned with in whatever future Bellator tournament (light-heavyweight or heavyweight) he ends up competing in. Why? Because when the two met in the Bellator 48 cage, it was clear Rodriguez was unable to cope with his opponent’s striking, and Petruzelli looked about as sharp as ever. The first and only round began with the man who ended EliteXC landing repeated spinning back-kicks, the first nailing Rodriguez in the junk but the following two scoring. Perhaps sensing his fortunes lay only within the realm of grappling, Rodriguez came in looking to latch on, and BAM! He ate a right a hand and fell to the canvas. The follow-up hammerfists erased all doubt that Rodriguez was done, and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in at 4:21 of Round 1.
It was just another day at the office for Ryan Quinn, who handled an overmatched Brett Oteri like Oteri was a white belt who had mistakenly wandered into the black belt class. From takedown to uneventful journey into back-control to judicious application of the rear naked choke, Quinn was the boss, and Oteri didn’t even know enough to tap out – prompting the ref to step in at 1:49 of the first round when Oteri went to sleep.
Once upon a time Paul Buentello scrapped his way up through the King of the Cage ranks to secure the belt, then battled into the top contender spot in the UFC. He was hungry in those days, and when it came to throwing leather, he was one of the deadliest. Yeah, those days are long gone. Taking on Bellator reigning heavyweight champ Cole Konrad – whose forte is lying on top of people and smothering them – Buentello was timid and gun-shy when his old self would’ve been a murderous fist-sniper, and it was Konrad who seemed fearless when it came to the stand-up exchanges. This was how the first two rounds played out, and a misstep in the third saw Buentello slip to the ground and Konrad swarm him like a wrestler made out of angry bees. The bottom line was that Buentello had nothing and Konrad looked to be steadily improving, and the unanimous decision that was awarded to the champ was a surprise to no one.
Mixed martial arts… wow, what a sport, huh? Anything can happen, and in a tournament, anyone can transform themselves from an almost-was to a “good grief, he’s a killer!” That’s the story with Pat Curran, who won a Bellator lightweight tournament only to get clobbered by lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. But while he looked decent winning the 155-pound tournament, he was “Hulk smash” in this summer’s featherweight conflagration, cruising easily to the finals to face heavy-favorite Marlon Sandro. And it was there, in his match against the Brazilian, where the American really shined. For nearly two full rounds Curran got picked apart on the feet, doing his best to counter-punch a superior, aggressive and accurate striker in Sandro. Yet all it took was for Sandro to zig when he should have zagged, and Curran – battered and bleeding from a cut above an eye – expertly nailed the former Sengoku star with a kick to the chops that surgically removed Sandro from his consciousness. The official time of the knockout was 4:00 of Round 2, and Curran accrued another tournament win and a shot at another one of the organization’s champions.
-Pat Curran def. Marlon Sandro via Knockout (Kick) at 4:00 in Round 2
-Cole Konrad def. Paul Buentello via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
-Ryan Quinn def. Bret Oteri via Technical Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:49 in Round 1
-Seth Petruzelli def. Ricco Rodriguez via TKO (Punches) at 4:21 in Round 1
-Rene Nazare def. Juan Barrantes via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) at 5:00 in Round 2