Now that Bellator I has aired on ESPN Deportes we’re going to go ahead and post the results rather than wait till Wednesday for the online English broadcast when everyone who even knows what Bellator is has already seen the results. Bellator sent over a press release recapping the fights as well, and since I still haven’t seen them, I’ll let them tell you what happened since I can’t.
By the way, word is, at least production and media relations wise, Bellator still has a long ways to go.
Hollywood, Fla. – April 4, 2009 – Bellator Fighting Championships, in conjunction with its exclusive television partner, ESPN Deportes, held its premiere event at the Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on April 3, 2009. The event will air at 9 pm EST on April 4, 2009 on ESPN Deportes.
The debut event kicked off the 12-week inaugural season of the promotion before a packed house, featuring Middleweights, Daniel Sarafien and Gary Padilla in non-tournament competition. Padilla defeated Sarafien with a second round technical knockout (TKO) to become the first fighter to win a matchup under the Bellator banner.
Eddie Alvarez was back in top form against game challenger and top Irish Lightweight Greg Loughran. With a hugely vocal Philadelphia contingent behind him, Alvarez picked himself up off the canvas, after being dropped by Loughran to take command of his heavy handed opponent. Alvarez stalked Loughran, luring him into the corner where he performed a seamless transition into a guillotine choke that ended the fast paced back and forth fight. With the crowd in an uproar over Alvarez’s thrilling victory, Alvarez climbed the cage and did a signature back flip that only further energized the crowd. Alvarez will advance on to the semi-final round where he will face a top competitor seeking the Lightweight Championship.
The fight that many fans expected to be the best fight of the night was also the quickest. Jorge Masvidal finished opponent, Nick Agallar with a barrage of powerful strikes both standing and on the ground. Masvidal delivered a pivotal strike to Agallar’s face that left him stunned on his feet. Masvidal then forced him to the ground with a well timed combination that pulled fans to the edge of their seats. After a total of only one minute and nineteen seconds, Masvidal had his opponent helpless on the mat where he unleashed a fury of strikes until the referee ended the match as a TKO. The former street fighter walked away from the bout with a little extra well-earned swagger in his step as he advances to the semi-finals of the Lightweight tournament.
“We are very pleased with this first event. It had great action, upsets and dominant performances. Fans in the U.S. as well as abroad get the chance to see these world-class fighters get one step closer to establishing their position amongst the elite in the game,” said Bellator Fighting Championships’ CEO Bjorn Rebney.
One of the most surprising match-ups in the tournament was the three-round fight between the speedy Luis Palomino and the powerful Estevan Payan. As this match went the distance, there were moments where both fighters had a commanding role. What had originally begun as a defensive lesson in fight protocol, transitioned to moments of all out slugfest as two men struggled for an opportunity to catch the other off guard. At one point Palomino sustained a fairly large setback after he caught a stray strike to the head. At the end of the third round, Payan was declared the winner by split decision.
In the Featherweight match-up between Joe Soto and Ben Greer, Soto began using a heavy arsenal of right handed strikes to flatten Canadian wrestler Greer early on. Despite Greer’s attempts to escape, Soto was able to continuously counter and mount Greer to deliver five haymakers that left Greer without a response, forcing the referee to stop the action and end the bout in a TKO. Soto showed that he may be a force in the 145 pound tournament.
Featherweight Yahir Reyes stunned the crowd with his quick to pounce and highly aggressive style against Nick “the ghost” Gonzalez. Reyes was able to trap and mount Gonzalez where he then applied a rear naked choke, which forced Gonzalez to tap out immediately. Reyes win was one of the biggest upset victories on the fight card.
In the Lightweight tournament division, Toby Imada, widely considered to be the world’s best fighter with the worst record, landed a series of hammerfists to the head of Alonzo Martinez despite several attempts by Martinez at a reverse to catch Imada off balance. Imada responded with a quick spin to regain control and synch a rear naked choke for the win. Toby Imada will advance on and join Masvidal and Alvarez in the semi final-Lightweight competition.
Other notable bouts included a quick non-tournament victory by Moses Gabon in front of his hometown audience in Hollywood, FL. Jonathan Brookins also looked impressive after he finished opponent Stephen Ledbetter with a rear naked choke towards the end of the first round.
The full results of Bellator I, which featured tournament bouts in the Featherweight (145 lbs.) and Lightweight (155 lbs.) divisions, are below:
155 lbs. – Eddie Alvarez (17-2) vs. Greg Loughran (18-12) – Alvarez 1st Round 2:44 Guillotine Choke
155 lbs. – Jorge Masvidal (17-3) vs. Nick Agallar (21-6) – Masvidal 1st Round 1:19 TKO
145 lbs. – Nick Gonzalez (14-7) vs. Yahir Reyes (13-5) – Reyes 1st Round 2:11 Rear Naked Choke
145 lbs. – Estevan Payan (7-1) vs. Luis Palomino (9-5) – Payan Split Decision
145 lbs. – Joe Soto (5-0) vs. Ben Greer (11-5) – Soto 1st Round 3:40 TKO
155 lbs. – Toby Imada (21-11) vs. Alonzo Martinez (22-13) – Imada 1st Round 3:26 Rear Naked Choke
145 lbs. – Jonathan Brookins (9-3) vs. Stephen Ledbetter (6-3) – Brookins 1st Round 3:32 Rear Naked Choke
155 lbs. – Daniel Morales (5-2) vs. Lorenzo Borgomeo (5-1) – Borgomeo 3rd Round 3:46 Rear Naked Choke
185 lbs. – Moses Gabon (1-0) vs. Daniel Sarafien (3-2) – Gabon 1st Round 1:33 Triangle Choke
185 lbs. – James Brasco (3-1) vs. Kevin Abrante (3-2) – Brasco 1st Round 2:14 Arm Bar
185 lbs. – Chris Decaro (0-1) vs. Gary Padilla (9-4) – Padilla 2nd Round 3:04 TKO
Bellator Fighting Championships’ premiere season consists of 12 two-hour events to be broadcast weekly in primetime on Saturday nights, beginning April 4, 2009. The nationally televised events will feature a combination of tournament and non-tournament special feature bouts. There are four simultaneous tournaments taking place in season #1 over a three month period: one in each of the Featherweight (145 lb.), Lightweight (155 lb.), Welterweight (170 lb.) and Middleweight (185 lb.) divisions.
The next event is scheduled for April 10, 2009 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT and will be broadcast on April 11, 2009 on ESPN Deportes.
For more information about Bellator Fighting Championships, visit www.bellator.com. The Spanish version of the site, www.espanol.bellator.com, will go live in March 2009. Please contact your local cable provider to learn more about viewing Bellator Fighting Championships on ESPN Deportes.