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Masvidal, Alvarez and others kick-off Bellator's debut tournaments
Masvidal, Alvarez and others kick-off Bellator's debut tournaments
The long-awaited debut of upstart promotion Bellator Fighting Championships finally arrived Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Three featherweight and three lightweight tournament bouts were contested, but it was a pair of big-name 155-pounders that were the real draw of Bellator's first event.
Many MMA observers felt lightweight Nick Agallar (21-6) could provide hard-hitting Jorge Masvidal (17-3) with a stern test in the opening round of the 155-pound bracket. Quite simply, he didn't.
With the Florida crowd firmly behind the American Top Team fighter, Masvidal dropped Agallar with a stiff left hook and then unloaded on his downed opponent. Agallar was allowed every opportunity to recover, but the rapid-fire onslaught ensured that wouldn't happen. The bout was halted at 1:19 of the first round.
Masvidal advanced to meet Toby Imada (21-12), a winner earlier in the evening, in the tournament's second round.
Lightweight tournament favorite Eddie Alvarez (16-2) survived an early scare from Irish opponent Greg Loughran (18-12) en route to victory.
A left hand by Loughran found its mark and dropped Alvarez to a knee, but the Philadelphia native scored with a few shots of his own as the two traded blows. Alvarez survived the exchange and tripped Loughran to the mat, quickly sinking in a guillotine choke. Loughran, whose back was trapped against the cage, was unable to escape the move and tapped at 2:44 of the first frame.
Alvarez courageously survived the upset, and will meet the winner of Thomas Schulte vs. Eric Reynolds, to be contested on April 10.
Yahir Reyes stuns Nick Gonzalez, Estavan Payan outlasts Luis Palomino
Mexican featherweight Yahir Reyes (13-5) was stunned early in his fight with Nick Gonzalez (14-7) by a crisp knee, but that didn't prevent the MMA Xtreme veteran from scoring the upset.
Reyes immediately battled back from the blow to land a crisp combination of his own that dropped Gonzalez to the floor. Reyes pounced on his wounded opponent and immediately locked in a rear-naked choke. Gonzalez tapped at 2:44 of the opening round.
Reyes will face Estevan Payan (7-1), a winner in his bout contested earlier in the evening.
Featherweight Payan nearly did enough to earn his tournament win over Luis Palomino (9-5) in the opening frame. A stiff right hand on the feet followed by a rear-naked choke attempt to the downed combatant nearly ended the fight, but time ran out in the round before the Arizona Combat Sports fighter could secure the finish.
The action stalled for the remaining two rounds, and the bout was tough to score at times. Despite nearly ending the fight in the first, Payan just squeaked out a split-decision win.
With the win, Payan advanced to face Reyes, a winner of his bout later in the evening.
Californian Joe Soto (5-0) and Canadian Ben Greer (11-5) kicked off Bellator's debut featherweight tournament. While Greer defended Soto's early takedown attempts, the continued advances eventually turned the tide.
Soto finally got the takedown he was looking for and moved quickly to mount. Greer rolled to his belly to avoid the oncoming shots, but Soto was unable to sink in a choke with his high back position. Greer rolled again to try and escape, but Soto delivered a damaging series of right hands from the top. The referee was forced to halt the contest at 3:40 of the first round.
Soto advances to meet the winner of the April 10 bout between Henry Martinez and Wilson Reis.
In Bellator's first-ever tournament bout, lightweights Imada and Alonzo Martinez (22-13) each came out aggressively in their quest for Bellator's ultimate $175,000 prize. But while both fighters worked quickly, it was Imada who capitalized on the opportunity.
After some striking exchanges, Imada utilized a takedown to take control of the fight. Martinez rolled in an attempt to escape the position, but Imada followed the scramble and locked in the rear-naked choke. Martinez tapped at 3:26 of the opening frame, and Imada advanced to face Masvidal, a winner later in the evening, at a future date.
Jonathan Brookins, Lorenzo Borgomeo impress in non-tournament action
WEC veteran featherweights Jonathan Brookins (9-3) and Stephen Ledbetter (6-3) were each coming off losses in their most recent bouts. Though each fought aggressively during the brief scramble that decided the fight, it was Brookins that came out on top.
Ledbetter shot in, but Brookins sprawled and maintained superior position. Brookins scored with a series of ground-and-pound blows and sunk in the rear-naked choke with Ledbetter laid flat underneath him. The Hardcore Gym fighter tapped at 3:32 of the first round.
Tabbed as the first alternate in Bellator's lightweight tournament, Daniel Morales (5-2) needed a win over Italian import Lorenzo Borgomeo (5-1) to maintain his eligibility for replacing any injured fighters in the second round of the grand prix. Unfortunately for the Mexican national, he fell short.
A series of Borgomeo knees from the clinch in the opening two frames left Morales unable to defend himself effectively. Obviously winded, Morales tried to retreat and survive the final frame, much to the crowd's dismay. When the action moved to the floor, Borgomeo tried to end the fight with a series of hammerfists. Morales rolled to avoid the damage, and Borgomeo sunk in the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Borgomeo rebounds from an October 2008 defeat to Mikey Gomez at EliteXC, while Morales loses for just the second time in seven career bouts.
Middleweight Florida residents James Brasco (3-1) and Kevin Abrante (3-2) met to battle for state bragging rights, but the battle was over before it ever began.
After an early takedown from Brasco lead to a moderate pace from both fighters on the floor, both fighters were advised by the referee to speed up the pace. Brasco obliged and locked in an arm bar, forcing the tap at 2:14 of round one.
Fighting in his hometown, middleweight Moses Gabon (1-0) made quick work of former World Combat League fighter Chris Decaro (0-1).
Gabon scored a quick takedown, and though unable to mount any serious offense with striking, he locked in a fight-ending triangle choke at just 1:33 of the opening round.
The opening bout of Bellator's history saw Gary Padilla (9-4) dominate American Top Team's Daniel Sarafian (3-2) from the opening bell.
Strikes landed from the standing position, and Padilla slammed Sarafian violently to the mat in both the first and second rounds. Ground-and-pound offense from Padilla opened a gash on Sarafian's face and eventually forced a referee's stoppage at 3:04 of the second frame.
* Jorge Masvidal def. Nick Agallar via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 1:19
* Eddie Alvarez def. Greg Loughran via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 2:44
* Yahir Reyes def. Nick Gonzalez via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 2:11
* Estevan Payan def. Luis Palomino via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
* Joe Soto def. Ben Greer via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 3:40
* Toby Imada def. Alonzo Martinez via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 3:26
* Jonathan Brookins def. Stephen Ledbetter via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 3:32
* Lorenzo Borgomeo def. Daniel Morales via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 3, 3:46
* James Brasco def. Kevin Abrante via submission (arm bar) - Round 1, 2:14
* Moses Gabon def. Chris Decaro via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 1:33
* Gary Padilla def. Daniel Sarafian via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 3:04