We were supposed to see the conclusion of last season’s heavyweight tournament at Bellator 61, but when the behemoth known as Eric Prindle fell ill with the flu, his pairing against fellow tournament finalist (and fellow behemoth) Thiago Silva was rescheduled for next weekend’s Bellator 62. What we got tonight, though, was the complete quarterfinal bracket of Season Si x’s middleweight tussle. And oh what a tussle it was! Of the four Brazilians in the lineup, two were sent packing, while a UFC vet dominated and an American gave Bellator another highlight-reel knockout to add to its collection.
Wand Fight Team jiu-jitsu instructor Vitor Vianna may have vowed to take it to the ground before his match against slugger Brian Rogers began, but apparently vowing and doing are two very things. For about four minutes of their four-minute and fourteen-second bout, Vianna managed to commit to two deep takedown attempts, circle a lot, and get a cut above his right eye. Then the wheels came completely off the bus when Rogers stunned him with a cross, and followed up almost instantly with a flying knee. Said flying knee landed flush – so flush that Vianna was left starched and stiff on the canvas. Yup, that was the aforementioned highlight-reel knockout, and with the sudden and dramatic ending, Rogers moved on to the semifinals.
Giva Santana bears the nickname “The Arm Collector” due to his penchant for armbars, but he’s no Ronda Rousey. Case in point: his fisticuff with a brutish but effective Bruno Santos. For three rounds Santana found his takedowns stuffed by his countryman, which forced the jiu-jitsu ace to stand and strike. And while he wasn’t all that bad (he had spurts of aggression, and during those spurts, he landed frequently), fighting on the feet against a sprawl-and-brawl specialist built like the Fantastic Four’s “Thing” is a losing prospect. It wasn’t until Round 3 that the bout went horizontal; however, even then, with Santos in his guard, the Arm Collector was unable to collect anything more than punishment. To his credit, Santana was slick as hell spinning into a leglock attempt in the waning seconds of the fight. But it was too little too late, and Santos walked away with the decision.
Victor O’Donnell may rule the regional circuit, but when it comes to the national spotlight, the poor guy can find no traction. When it came time for him to fight his way into the TUF House, O’Donnell ended up being carried out of the TUF Training Center on a stretcher, and at Bellator 50 he fell victim to a questionable stoppage against Brian Rogers. So here we were at Bellator 61, O’Donnell was getting another crack at tournament glory, and what happened? Vyacheslav Vasilevsky happened. That’s what.
An M-1 Challenge veteran with rock-solid punching and the kind of grappling nightmares are made of, Vasilevsky made life miserable for O’Donnell from the get-go. The American managed a sweet takedown in the first, but it bore no fruit, and after that the Russian beat O’Donnell from pillar to post, both by way of standup exchanges and damaging ground and pound. Twice the fight came extremely close to being stopped, and though O’Donnell somehow survived, he was a bloody mess by the end of it. Vasilevsky handily took the unanimous decision when time ran out.
Maiquel Falcao won his lone fight in the UFC, but was cut due to legal problems in his native Brazil. Norman Paraisy is from France, and France has yet to produce an earth-shattering MMA fighter. Can you guess how this one played out? If you said Falcao delivered a beating unto the Frenchman, you are correct! Stalking his prey around the cage and laying into him with whipping leg-kicks and hard punches, and then tripping him to the mat and punishing him, it was pretty much all Falcao, all the time. Only briefly did Paraisy gain an advantage – when a reversal had him on top for a minute in the third – but nothing came of it, and soon the Brazilian was back to dominating. He, too, took the decision when time expired.
-Maiquel Falcao def. Norman Paraisy via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-37, 30-27)
-Vyacheslav Vasilevsky def. Victor O’Donnell via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Bruno Santos def. Giva Santana via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
-Brian Rogers def. Vitor Vianna via KO (Flying Knee) at 4:14 in Round 1