Long Weekend MMA Recap: Bellator 45 and Regional Results
Continuing on our recap of the MMA action this long weekend (part one, looking at Murilo Rua’s retirement can be found here) we take a look at the most relevant action from the past few days, Bellator 45. Which crowned Christian M’Pumbu the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, and Patricio Freire as the Season 4 Featherweight tournament winner.
The final event of Bellator’s fourth season of tournaments emanated from Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city familiar to MMA fans, as it hosted two UFC events during the sport’s “Dark Ages”, UFC 22 and 24. UFC 22 is best remembered for the epic clash between Frank Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, while UFC 24 is infamous for Kevin Randleman’s “backstage incident” prior to his title bout with Pedro Rizzo. So Lake Charles has a history of hosting both the best and the weirdest in MMA. Bellator was hoping for the former, and hoping to carry over last week’s excellent TV results. To do so, they featured the Featherweight tournament final between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Daniel Straus, for a shot at Featherweight Champion Joe Warren; the main event of the evening was the Light Heavyweight tournament final and championship bout between Christian M’Pumbu and Rich Hale.
Light Heavyweight, being Bellator’s newest division, is also probably its weakest, although perhaps it is deeper than Heavyweight, which is the weakest division across MMA as a whole. This is evidenced by the fact that Christian M’Pumbu, who is essentially a mid-sized Middleweight who decides not to cut weight, and Rich Hale, a fighter who has spent the majority of his career in the Rage in the Cage promotion and has a tattoo that looks like Brock Lesnar sprawled on him while Brock’s well-known tattoo was still wet, were fighting for the championship.
M’Pumbu came out strong early in the fight, dropping Hale with a left knee, left hook combination in the first round before following up with some ground and pound, as well as a submission attempt. Hale persevered though and survived to see round two, even starting to find his range by the end of the first five minutes. In the second stanza, there was not a lot of significant offense, but the fight clearly shifted as Hale took control simply by increasing his output and making a point to move forward on his opponent. The third round featured much of the same, with Hale being the aggressor, but around the 4-minute mark M’Pumbu landed a winging right hand that dropped Hale and after following up with a torrent of ground and pound he earned the stoppage, the tournament, and the belt.
In the Featherweight final, “Pitbull” outlasted a game Straus, although hardly in the style we have become accustomed to from the Brazilian phenom. Straus has a habit of making fights ugly, however in this fight, rather than coming forward as he often does, he played a defensive game against a much more skilled opponent, and simply couldn’t get anything done against Freire. Even when it looked like Straus would get a takedown, Patricio showed excellent hips and was able to scramble to his feet before any position was established. Surprisingly, all of the takedowns which were successful were initiated by “Pitbull”, he also controlled the striking both from range and from the clinch, basically shutting down the limited offense Straus did offer. Next up, Freire will get his anticipated rematch with Joe Warren some time this summer. Judging from his first crack at Warren, this bout should be entertaining and could go either way.
Full Bellator 45 results can be found in the Bellator recent events tab.
In other regional action this weekend:
- Former UFC and Sengoku veteran Brian Cobb defeated Radley Martinez (no typo) via Rear-Naked Choke at Fight For Wrestling 3.
- Paulo Filho continued his disappointing downward spiral with a Unanimous Decision loss to Norman Paraisy at Ultra X Combat.
- Both Rosholt brothers, Jake and Jared picked up submission victories at Cowboy MMA in the first and second rounds, respectively.
- Joe Ellenberger faced an easier fight than he has over the past two years that he has been out of MMA action, as he has been dealing with a life threatening blood disease, he moved his record to 11-0 with a first round Kimura win over the incredibly overmatched Jeff Karstens.
- UFC veterans Justin Buchholz and Steve Lopez faced off in the main event of Superior Combat Challenge, and Buchholz continued the Steven Seagal revival tour with a front kick KO.
- Brazilian Lightweight prospect Francisco Drinaldo notched a brutal KO win over Derrick Burnsed at Jungle Fight 28.
- Mamed Khalidov continued to prove he is one of the top Middleweights fighting outside of North America as he made short work of Matt Lindland at KSW 16, putting “The Law” to sleep with a guillotine choke. James Thompson also defeated Mariusz Pudzianowski by 2nd round Arm Triangle.
- Frank Trigg won by first round TKO, Matt Ewin moved his win streak to 6, and Leonardo Santos picked up his third consecutive victory at BAMMA 6.