Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bellator's first season on Spike was just the spike it needed

All it needed was a chance and after a couple of lackluster seasons on MTV2, Bellator Fighting Championships got that opportunity with Spike TV. Promoting itself as the toughest tournament in sports, Bellator went out and proved it week in and week out for the last three months. Using a combination of established young stars, rising up and coming fighters and some tough proven veterans; such as Doug 'Rhino' Marshall (pictured above), Bellator's first season on Spike was just the spike it needed.

The season began with stacked tournaments in a multitude of weight classes ranging anywhere from featherweight (145 lbs.) to light-heavyweight (205 lbs.). They crowned new champions, including light-heavyweight Attila 'Pumukli' Vegh who was a previous tournament winner that defeated former champ Christian M'Pumbu and most importantly they delivered some very exciting fights. More than any previous season before that I could recall, Bellator had more knockouts, submissions and first round finishes than anytime in its history ever.

During the course of that process, veterans such as the aforementioned Marshall, a 36 year old former WEC champion and Dave Jansen, also a WEC veteran now 33 years old, saw their careers come back to life with tournament wins and future title shots in the middleweight (185 lbs.) and lightweight (155 lbs.) classes respectively. By the same token, some well known names like Renato 'Babalu' Sobral and Marlon Sandro may have seen their last big shots come and go.

This past season also provided shocking surprises such as Emanuel Newton coming out of relative obscurity to knock out pre-season light-heavyweight tourney favorite Muhammed 'King Mo' Lawal with a spinning backfist in the semifinals; he would then go on to win the tournament. It also showed some things just don't change, such as Douglas Lima and Ben 'Killa B' Saunders' getting through the welterweight (170 lbs.) tournament once again for another opportunity to face each other; this will be a rematch of one of Bellator's most exciting fights.

However most importantly, Bellator showed that it could lose some highly touted free agent former champions such as Hector Lombard and Eddie Alvarez and still survive. That is primarily because their current nucleus of promotion made stars, which include featherweight champion Pat Curran, lightweight champ Michael Chandler and welterweight champ Ben Askren all came strong this past season with successful and exciting title defenses.

Curran, Chandler and Askren may not be as well known or highly touted as their UFC counterparts Jose Aldo, Benson Henderson and Georges St. Pierre, but they are clearly all in the top ten of their respective weight classes and in the case of Curran, I'd argue he may be in the top two or three as far as featherweights go right behind Aldo. Those three, along with all the others I mentioned above are the main reason why Bellator's first season on Spike was just the spike it needed.

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