While you were watching Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard put forth another thriller in UFC 136, Bellator 53 was playing out on MTV2, and bringing with it all its usual grit and fistic goodness. The Season Five welterweight tournament semifinals went down, as well as a qualifier bout for the next featherweight tournament and a late heavyweight tournament reserve bout. So what did you miss?
Two men pushing the 265-pound heavyweight limit, and both known for their crushing power. That was Josh Burns and Brazilian behemoth Thiago Santos, who met for a heavyweight tournament reserve bout (reserve with a very real chance of seeing tournament love, as quarterfinal winner Mike Hayes may not be medically cleared to move on). They wasted no time mixing it up, with Santos dragging Burns down, softening him with punches while the American languished on all fours, a snatching the submission opportunity when it presented itself. The opportunity turned out to be Burns raising his head and looking to his corner for advice, which gave the jiu-jitsu practitioner that chance to snake his arm around Burns’ neck and squeeze. The tap out came at 2:23 of the first round.
Wrestler Kenny Foster and Brit kickboxer and jiu-jitsu specialist Ronnie Mann wanted another crack at 145-pound tournament glory, and to earn their spot, they had to get past each other first. Their stereotypical advantages shown through almost immediately once the action commenced; Mann was superior at throwing shins and leather, and threatened with submissions whenever he was on the bottom, and Foster could pretty much get his opponent down whenever he wanted. One such instance of Foster being good at wrestling but inferior when it came to grappling marked the beginning of the end, as he put Mann on his back and found himself deep in a tight triangle – an untenable hold that he had no choice but to tap out to. The official end of the bout was 3:51 of the first round.
They call Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Giva Santana the “Arm Collector”, so going into his match-up against the unknown Darryl Cobb you had to assume someone was getting his limb torqued. And yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. After a minute and a half of tentative work on the feet, Santana caught Cobb coming in, dumped him onto the canvas, and kept transitioning from various positions until the American soon had his own arm extended. The tap out was clocked at exactly 2:00 of Round 1.
To earn their berths in the welterweight tournament semifinals, Douglas Lima and Chris Lozano had to wage war. To move past the semifinals, they had to do more of the same. The story of the first round was Lima moving forward and swinging, Lozano churning out counters, and the two eventually standing in front of each other playing “punchy face”. Yet for all of Lozano’s boxing ability, it was Lima’s varied attack – his punching mixed with his hard leg-kicks – that made the difference, as it created the opening for the jab-cross combination that put Lozano to sleep at 3:14 of Round 2. It was a dramatic finish, and with it Lima moves on to the tournament finals.
On the other side of the bracket was TUF veteran Ben Saunders and Luis Santos, who went at it with just as much intensity as Lima and Lozana. It took almost a minute and a half of struggling for Santos to get Saunders down to the mat, but when he got it there, he had to have been regretting it. Tying up his foe with first a triangle, then Rubber Guard, then a modified omoplata, Saunders was able to punch Santos in the face at will. Sensing Santos’ susceptibility to those moves, the American did pretty much the same thing in Round 2, tying Santos in knots and getting an omoplata that was ridiculously deep. Santos survived, but it went from bad to worse for him in the third, as Saunders got on top and cinched on a keylock. Santos tapped at 1:45 of the frame, and Saunders gets to face Lima for all the marbles.
-Ben Saunders def. Luis Santos via Submission (Keylock) at 1:45 in Round 3
-Douglas Lima def. Chrus Lozano via KO (Punch) at 3:14 in Round 2
-Giva Santana def. Darryl Cobb via Submission (Armbar) at 2:00 in Round 1
-Ronnie Mann def. Kenny Foster via Submission (Triangle Choke) at 3:51 in Round 1
-Thiago Santos def. Josh Burns via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:23 in Round 1