Saturday, September 6, 2014

Going head up in Connecticut

It wasn't necessarily the pro wrestling Monday night war days of the '90's between the then WWF and WCW, but it had a similar feel to it. In a surprise move by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, they held a rare UFC Fight Night card on a Friday; yes the same night that Bellator Fighting Championships has held down for mixed martial arts for a couple of years now.

If that wasn't bad enough, they did it on the night of the premiere event for Bellator's new season and also the first event under new President Scott Coker. Finally, to really try and rain on Bellator's parade the UFC held their event in Connecticut; yes the same state Bellator was in. Bellator was at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, while the UFC was at Foxwoods in Ledyard on the Manshantucket Pequot Indian Reservation; not necessarily the fight capital of the world I know.

Personally I thought it was a power play, but bitch move by the UFC. They rarely come to the East Coast, let alone Connecticut, and they hardly ever fight on Friday night. Nonetheless, as fans we were treated to our fair share and choices of free fights on TV; and considering the number of commercials and down time that is associated with these free TV fights, you were able to go back and forth without missing much action.

As for the main events, I'd have to say it was Bellator's one shining moment over the UFC. The featherweight (145 lbs.) championship bout they had between former champion Pat Curran (20-6, 5 KO's 7 subs) and now new champ Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire (22-2, 9 KO's 7 subs) was almost an exact replica of a their previous championship fight. Five rounds of back and forth action, only this time Freire left no doubt in the judges minds, previously losing via split decision. Pitbull clearly won three, if not four, of the five rounds dropping Curran with punches three times throughout and earned a unanimous decision.

That's not to say the UFC main event was a bad one between ranked middleweight (185 lbs.) contenders #3 Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza (21-3, 2 KO's 15 subs) and #7 Gegard 'The Dreamcatcher' Mousasi (35-5, 18 KO's 12 subs). It's just that this was a one-sided affair with Souza continuously taking down Mousasi and maintaining control on the ground till he eventually finished him with a late third round guillotine choke. Still undefeated in the UFC with four straight wins, Jacare looks like a serious contender to challenge champion Chris Weidman who was in attendance.

While Bellator may have won the main event battle, the under card was clearly dominated by the UFC who had two first round heavyweight knockouts and a second round finish due to a cut, but was the most exciting fight of the night between lightweights (155 lbs.) Joe Lauzon (24-9, 5 KO's 18 subs) and Michael Chiesa (11-2, 8 subs). Non-stop action both standing and on the ground, started UFC's main card off on the right foot and inevitably it was a vicious knee from Lauzon to Chiesa above his right eye that ended it.

Bombs away was the menu for heavyweight winners 'Big' Ben Rothwell (34-9, 20 KO's 11 subs) and Matt 'Meathead' Mitrione (8-3, 7 KO's) as they bombarded Alistair 'The Reem' Overeem (37-14, 15 KO's 19 subs) and Derrick 'The Black Beast' (11-3, 10 KO's 1 sub) respectively. Both Rothwell and Mitrione came into the fights as underdogs, but timely right hands ended up ramming The Reem and taming The Black Beast. I would expect a fight between the winners may not be a bad way to go.

Bellator's under card was not bad, as they too had finishes in all their bouts. However, considering there were knockouts and submissions, for some reason I was not very impressed in the way light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) Muhammad 'King Mo' Lawal and heavyweight Bobby Lashley finished their, what I considered, sub par opponents. I can't say the same for former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo (22-9, 12 KO's 4 subs) though.

Just when you think you've seen it all in this sport, Kongo defeated another former UFC vet in Lavar 'Big' Johnson (18-10, 16 KO's, 2 subs) in the first round, but not as you think. You'd figure these two massive strikers would crack one another into oblivion, and heavy leather was being thrown, but it was Kongo winning via a rear naked choke submission. I guess going head up in Connecticut wasn't a bad thing after all.

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