Another Saturday night, another Bellator installment – this one featuring the Season Five middleweight semifinals, as well as a bout with bantamweight champ Zach Makovsky taking on someone not quite ready for their shot in a non-title affair.  There were tap outs, knockouts, and gritty performances galore, so read on to find out how Bellator 54 played out.

Eager for a slot in the next lightweight tournament, jiu-jitsu champ Rene Nazare stepped into the cage against Maryland-based wrestler Jacob Kirwan sporting plenty of determination to match his ace submission skills and dangerous Muay Thai.  Unfortunately, he forgot to bring along his takedown defense.   Despite a sweet sweep that put him briefly on top of the American in the first round, Nazare spent all three rounds on the bottom, desperately trying to get something more than half-guard while Kirwan did his best imitation of a blanket.  This match-up wasn’t a thriller, but it wasn’t a stinker, and with the unanimous decision win Kirwan likely secured himself a future in the promotion.

Currently, Alexis Vila, Marcos Galvao, Ed West and Eduardo Dantas are all vying for the next crack at Makovsky’s belt.  In the meantime, we were treated to Ryan Roberts lumbering around, getting punched in the face and being completely handled by the champ’s superior speed and skill.  Landing inside leg-kicks almost at will, Makovsky created an opening for a couple crosses right down the pipe that made Roberts wobbly.  Then came the smooth takedown, the guard pass, and the choke from North-South.  Roberts tapped out at 4:48 of the first round.

Tim Carpenter may have been out-struck by Christian M’Pumbu in the last light-heavyweight tournament, but he proved tonight that he’s very capable of throwing leather.  Taking on local wrestler Ryan Contaldi, Carpenter employed a sizeable reach advantage and a variety of punches to batter his opponent.  Contaldi was happy to oblige the stand-up game – though when he stepped into an uppercut and woke up seconds later on the canvas, he undoubtedly regretted it.  The official time of the knockout was 2:16 of Round 1.

When I interviewed Alexander Shlemenko earlier this week, he predicted the tough Bryan Baker would defeat Brazilian exponent Vitor Vianna in their middleweight semifinal pairing.  Note to self: never take Shlemenko to the racetrack, ‘cause he can’t predict things for sh*t.  Baker and Vianna came out swinging wildly – like, whirling dervish-wild – and it was Vianna who landed the money shot first, clipping Baker with a punch and sending him stumbling to the canvas.  The Brazilian rushed forward, pinning the American against the cage to blast him with a series of unanswered hammerfists.  The referee jumped in and called it at the 54-second mark of the first round.

Shlemenko absorbed a world of hurt in the first round of his skirmish against fellow 185-pound tournament semifinalist Brian Rogers, with each crisp hook and counter-punch a testament to Rogers’ dangerousness in any slugfest.  But the Russian veteran – who won the last middleweight tournament – weathered the storm, taking some seriously hard shots on the noggin and giving it back tenfold in Round 2 in the form of a barrage of knees to the head.  Rogers, who seemed to lack the zeal that had given him Round 1, had no answer for the onslaught, and the referee waved off the bout at 2:30 of the round.  With the win, the Season Five middleweight finals will see Shlemenko and Vianna square off.


-Alexander Shlemenko def. Brian Rogers via TKO (Knees) at 2:30 in Round 2

-Vitor Vianna def. Bryan Baker via TKO (Punches) at :54 in Round 1

-Zach Makovsky def. Ryan Roberts via Submission (North-South Choke) at 4:48 in Round 1

-Jacob Kirwan def. Rene Nazare via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

-Tim Carpenter def. Ryan Contaldi via KO (Punch) at 2:16 in Round 1