It’s time for Bellator 97 folks! Live from Rio Rancho, New Mexico tonight we will get to see two championship fights as well as two tournament finals. Keep hitting refresh on your browser for live results and play-by-play action.
Michael Chandler def. David Rickels via KO (punches) at 0:44 of round 1
Round 1: Rickels sprints forward to touch gloves. Rickels looking smooth for once. Fast, fevered exchanges. A right hook hurts Rickels and drops him to his knees. Rickels jumps back up and backpedals, Chandler smells blood, and lands a a left-right hook combo that drops Rickels to his back, and he is hurt badly. One more right hand from on top and Rickels is out cold. Chandler was just too fast and powerful. He looked like Johny Hendricks with those powerful, tight hooks. Amazing performance from Chandler, lightning fast knockout. Rickels stays unconscious for a long time in the cage. Wow.
Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreshkov via TKO (punches) at 2:58 of round 4
Round 1: The champ Askren looking Funky as usual. Koreshkov wants to touch gloves, Askren walks right through it and shoots a double, Koreshkov defends well, but Askren is stuck to him like glue. He controls him with a front choke and tips him over. Koreshkov scrambles well. Askren all over him. High output grappling here. Askren actually drops down for an arm-in guillotine interestingly. Koreshkov gives the thumbs up. Koreshkov escapes, but Askren stays on top somehow. Koreshkov stuck on all fours with Askren controlling him from the top. All Askren so far. He takes his back and works for a choke for a while, no real hurry. Koreshkov looks lost. The round ends with Askren working from his back. 10-9 Askren, possibly 10-8
Round 2: Koreshkov looks for some sort of odd takedown and punching combo, and Askren easily reverses him. Askren works quickly to take the back of Koreshkov again. Koreshkov on all fours, and Askren pretends to be riding him like a horse and lasso-ing an imaginary calf somewhere in front of him. That was funny. Koreshkov is stuck in the center of the octagon squirming around. Askren on Koreshkov’s back still. Askren spins to north/south somehow. He moves to a crucifix, and the round ends. Koreshkov does not look frustrated. 10-8 Askren
Round 3: Schlemenko actually had to get double underhooks and carry Koreshkov to the stool in between rounds. Wow. The round opens, and as Askren looks for the double, Koreshkov times a big knee. Askren ignores it, and takes him down anyway. He takes Koreshkov’s back again, and they switch from mount to back mount over and over. Koreshkov is trying, but failing. some forearm strikes from mount. Too many small position changes to keep up with. All positions are superior for Askren. As the round ends, Askren has his back and taunts the booing crowd by waving his finger and staring out into the stands. Koreshkov motionless underneath him until the bell. 10-8 Askren
Round 4: Askren hits an easy double, and then passes to mount effortlessly. He locks in an arm triangle, but Koreshkov answers the phone and lays there defending. Askren gives it up and goes back to mount. Koreshkov looks both exhausted and disheartened. The ref warns Koreshkov to “do something, anything” so Koreshkov moves around a little. Askren moves to the center of the octagon, and pounds away on Koreshkov. Koreshkov rolls underneath, and Askren takes back mount again. He flattens Koreshkov out, and Koreshkov lays motionless while Askren throws punches for the top. He works in some double punches, and the ref calls it. Koreshkov was absolutely dominated in this fight. I can count on one hand how many strikes he landed in four rounds. He had nothing for Askren whatsoever. An embarrassing performance in fact.
Muhammed Lawal def. Jacob Noe via submission (verbal) at 2:51 of round 3
Round 1: Interestingly, they touch gloves before the fight. Mo ignores the jab, and hits an easy single leg takedown. Mo lands some punches and passes to side control. Noe escapes, and Mo hits another single to get him down again. Mo repeatedly takes down Noe. Noe grabs then fence on the way down and gets a warning. Mo hits a powerful double leg takedown. Mo punches the body while on top. Mo looking to pass, but rather inactive now. Crowd gets restless. Mo playing it safe here, pitter-pattering away with punches while keeping control over Noe’s body weight. The round ends, and the bump fists while separating to go back to their corners. 10-9 Lawal
Round 2: In round 2 Noe is staying on the outside and looking for leg kicks. Mo jumps in with a big right hand to a double leg takedown. Noe is working a closed guard and hammerfisting from the bottom. Mo punching from the top, and starting to up his level of output. Noe goes for an armbar that is easily defended. Mo controls him against the fence, throwing punches to the body and then head. Not a very exciting round. Mo pounding on him as the round ends, and Noe’s face is starting to look pretty rough. 10-9 Lawal
Round 3: I am going to go ahead and guess that round 3 will look exactly like the first two. Noe looking to kick the leg again. Within 30 seconds, Mo has him down again with a double leg takedown. Same positioning against the fence. Mo throws a metered output of small punches. Noe manages to escape. Once reset, Mo lands a huge jab and circles away. A right hand staggers Noe. Noe raises his hands in anticipation of punches, and Mo takes him down again. The same metered output of punches from Mo, and the ref jumps in and stops it out of nowhere. Noe does not complain, and when he gets up we get to see that his face is now a bloody mess. Methodical win by Lawal. As it turns out, it was a verbal tapout from Noe that stopped the fight.
At this point, they hype up the forthcoming announcement from Rampage. Gee, I wonder what it is. They bring Rampage out and talk to him for a bit, and he quickly dispells the rumor about a PPV boxing event between Roy Jones Junior and himself. He says that he would like his first fight for bellator to be an mma fight. He says he already knows who it will be against, and points to the ramp and indicates that they are coming out to the ring now for the official announcement. The camera pans to the ramp, and on his way down it, complete with the lighting effects, music and everything is Tito Ortiz. Yup, Tito Ortiz. Rampage and Tito’s first fight for their new promotion will be against each other. They say a few words, stare each other down, and shake hands. Wow, Tito Ortiz vs Rampage Jackson.
Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez vie TKO (punches) at 4:02 of round 3
Round 1: Two big guys in the cage for the Heavyweight Tournament final matchup. Martinez looks like Cabbage a little bit. They clinch against the cage. Minakov cannot trip Martinez. Martinez explodes and tips Minakov over, they reset. Some standing exchanges, Minakov looking wild in there, throwing lead uppercuts and spinning backfists, while Martinez just looking for tight hooks. Minakov cliunches and gets a brief takedown, Martinez stands himself up and so Minakov lands a big knee on the way up. Big left hook from Martinez, Minakov clinches. More exchanging. Minakov starting to utilize his reach advantage, but oddly he clinches often instead of staying on the outside where he has the edge. Martinez defends the takedown. Martinez frequently dropping his hands while resetting on the outside. 10-9 Minakov
Round 2: Martinez starts with absolutely no footwork. He stands in the center and pivots as Minakov circles around him a few times. Minakov clinches and pushes him against the cage. Martinez appears to be fine with this, and he rests. Minakov knees Martinez low. The ref takes a point away from Minakov! This is huge. The foul was the first of the fight, and it was clearly accidental. Wow. They reset in the center, and Martinez is leaking out of his nose badly. They exchange, but Martinez seems defensive. Minakov pressuring him. Straight right lands from Minakov. Martinez appears to be looking to catch Minakov coming in with one of his short hooks, but this strategy is failing. Minakov following him around and picking his shots. 9-9 round due to point deduction
Round 3: Minakov chasing a circling Martinez this round. Minakov looking for straight punches, while Martinez is still looking to time hooks inside. Martinez actually lands a few in the exchange. Minakov clinches against the cage and takes Martinez down. He lands some punches and passes to mount. Martinez just laying there. Minakov traps an arm and looks for more punches. Hammerfists now. Minakov lands a series of big right hands, and Martinez wants out. The ref calls it.
Patricio “Pitbull” def. Jared Downing via TKO (punches) at 0:54 of round 2
Round 1: This is one of the fights I was most looking forward to on the card. The fight starts out just as billed, aggressively. They do not hesitate to trade, and Pitbull lands a clean one-two that puts Downing on his back against the cage. He scrambles up and Pitbull snatches a guillotine and falls to his back. It lasts a while, but Downing escapes. They work their way back to their feet and restart in the middle. Lots of exchanges, Pitbull wins them. A kick strays low from Downing, and they touch gloves. Downing with his head striaght up in the air. Pitbull lands a left hook. Downing leaning in with his head, looks like a matter of time here before something hits his chin. Downing lands a one-two. Pitbull returns with a harder one-two that drops Downing again. Downing hops up, and Pitbull pressures him into the cage and lands a few more. They stall against the cage, and at the last second Downing gets the takedown and the bell rings. 10-9 Pitbull
Round 2: Downing unafraid, and he presses forward. A high kick from Pitbull slows him down. They exchange again, and a one-two puts Downing down again. He is game, he pops up yet again. Yet another one-two and Downing somehow stays standing although badly wobbled. A third one-two puts Downing flat on his back, and the ref calls the fight. Good stoppage. Downing hurt badly 3 times in a 5 second span. He is conscious, but he squats against the cage. After the fight, the two have a brief conversation and a show of sportsmanship. Downing is tough stuff, but Pitbull Looked great tonight
Will Brooks def. Chris Leyva via TKO (punches) at 2:23 of round 2
Round 1: The bell rings to start the first round of our first fight. The two circle and jab. Some punches are exchanged from a distance. The two clinch up and Brooks takes his back. Suddenly, a huge german suplex from Brooks. Leyva lands on his head, but he isn’t hurt. Brooks methodically walks his opponent over to the fence, where he controls the action from on top for the rest of the round. Leyva wants up, but he just can’t find a way. Brooks easily controls him and peppers away with shots until the bell. 10-9 Brooks
Round 2: Quickly Brooks works Leyva against the cage and takes him down from the clinch. An odd game of positions is played for the majority of the round, with Leyva squatting against the cage and Brooks leaning into him. He is not letting Leyva up, but he is not taking him all the way down either. Leyva escapes finally with a minute and a half left in the round. They circle, and Leyva lands some combos with authority, but they don’t phase Brooks. Back to this odd squatting position again. Crowd is dead silent. An odd fight so far. 10-9 Brooks
Round 3: Brooks seems content to trade in this round the first minute is spent with some standup exchanges, Brooks eating them all, and making sure to block the ones coming to his head. Back to that odd squatting position yet again. Brooks actually figures it out this time and is able to pass to mount. Leyva rolls over, and Brooks quickly flattens him out. Brooks lands a rhythmic combination of punches with no steam on them, and the ref oddly calls the fight. Leyva does not complain. Crowd is still dead silent. A very odd fight to start the night.
Rafael Silva def. Rodrigo Lima via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:03 of round 3
Round 1: Lima starts off aggressive. He lands clean a punch or two that back Silva up; another combo or two and Silva decides to hit a takedown. Lima stays very busy from the bottom, immediately threatening a triangle. Every single time Silva tries to punch from the top, Lima opens his guard and threatens him. Silva nullified. Lima looking good from his back. Silva lands a big right hand while standing over him. I believe that Lima is winning this fight from his back. Silva looks scared to act. I couldn’t even count the submission and sweep attempts. Although the judges surely will not agree with me, I scored this fight 10-9 for Lima
Round 2: Silva starts with a few spinning wheel kicks that glance off of Lima. Silva takes him down again. Yet again, Lima has Silva tied up quickly. Silva lands a punch here and there, but nothing with any steam on it. Lima rolls for a kneebar, and Silva resets and lands another big right hand while entering the guard again. Both fighters agree to a 2 minute rest. Lima uses a defensive guard, and stops looking for subs. I’d give this one to Silva based off of activity and a few punches. 10-9 Silva
Round 3: Silva quickly takes Lima down again. This round Lima does not appear content to stay there though. It is clear that his intent is to back up against the cage and work his way up. Silva controlling him. Lima makes it to his feet, and Silva takes his back while standing and slams him back down. Silva stays stuck to his back on the ground, and puts his hooks in…. and he sinks the rear-naked! Well timed submission from Silva, and he gets the W.
Anthony Leone def. Frank Baca via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:07 of round 3
Round 1: Baca gets a good reception from his hometown crowd. This bantamweight tournament semifinal match starts out cautiously. Lots of movement, only a few leg kicks thrown. Both fighters showing nervous energy. A minute and a half in, Leone lands a one-two. Again, lots of movement from both of them, only a few leg kicks landing. Leone throws a furious combo, Baca evades. About a minute left. Leone picks the wrong time to step in on Baca, and Baca lands a picture perfect right cross that rolls Leone onto his back. Baca looking to finish, but Leone grabs a leg and forces Baca against the fence where he survives the rest of the round. Jimmy Smith says he scored the round for Leone, and so I laugh out loud at my computer screen. 10-9 Baca
Round 2: Leone looks to have recovered nicely. He throws combos that come up short. Leone keeps the pressure on and works for a takedown against the cage. Baca defends well. Leone holds on to the outside single leg, not knowing when to quit. About 2 minutes of Leone holding Baca’s left leg and Baca sprawling. Leone presses him against the cage and takes his back halfway, he gets one hook in. He is working for the choke, but the bell rings to end the round. 10-9 Leone
Round 3: Leone sees his way to win this fight. He rushes Baca and presses him against the cage. This time he gets both legs wrapped up and takes Baca down against the fence. Baca attempts to scramble out, but Leone jumps onto his back and grabs onto the choke. Leone muscles the choke into place underneath the chin, and gets the tap. Impressive, he had no hooks in at all. Leone makes his way to the bantamweight finals.
Bubba Jenkins def. Mike Berrreras via TKO (punches) at 1:05 of round 2
Round 1: Bubba Jenkins sprints across the cage and lands a double leg takedown. Berreras jumps up, and Jenkins shoots in again. Berreras grabs onto a guillotine and squeezes like mad. Jenkins survives and passes to mount to pop his head out. Berreras pops up again, and lands a head kick once standing. Jenkins shoots in yet again, and Berreras looks for the same guillotine. This time Jenkins is wise to it, and passes to mount quickly. Very fast paced fight so far. Berreras escapes, and once standing the share a furious exchange of punches that sees Berreras hurt Jenkins with a left hook. Both fighters tired, Berreras showing some damage on his face. Jenkins shoots a double yet again, and Berreras looks for the guillotine yet again. Jenkins is out, and the round is over. Great round. 10-10
Round 2: Berreras shows a huge mouse on his left eye. They both trade shot for shot, Jenkins lands a killer jab. Jenkins turns that same jab into a lead hook, and it wobbles Berreras badly. Jenkins takes him down and pounds him out for the victory. A great fight.