MMA Weekly (5/15-5/22): Bellator 155 Underwhelms, Venator FC 3 Delivers
This week in MMA was odd, to say the least—primarily because of the interesting and unique action delivered by Bellator 155 and Venator FC 3.
Let’s recap everything this week brought MMA fans!
Bellator 155: Rafael Carvalho Miraculously Retains Title Over Melvin Manhoef in Awful Fight
I was incredibly excited for Bellator 155 at the outset, but for whatever reason, the stars aligned in the exact wrong direction for the promotion on Friday, May 20th. Awesome matches were booked, and excitement seemed like a given, but the MMA Gods evidently weren’t in the mood. Also, there’s a good chance the judges on the night were first-time MMA viewers or bettors with an interest in the contests.
The main card kicked off with an underwhelming heavyweight affair between Chase Gormley and Joey Beltran. While “The Mexicutioner” Beltran is usually part of thrilling contests, styles make fights, and his fifteen minutes opposite Gormley definitely don’t classify as “must-watch MMA”. Ultimately, Chase Gormley was awarded the split-decision nod.
Then, women’s MMA pioneer Marloes Coenen, as a massive favorite, was upset by the late replacement Alexis Dufresne via first-round armbar. Despite finding the takedown, Dufresne was reversed, and while on the bottom, she locked-in a gorgeous triangle choke. Coenen, relatively close to escaping from the triangle, was forced to tap immediately when Dufresne turned it into an armbar.
A would-be career-defining victory like this didn’t really thrill many fans, and this is probably warranted. For as awesome as the win was for Dufresne, the reality is that it’s hard to get behind someone—even a late-replacement and big underdog—when he or she misses weight.
The featured fight of the night, a heavyweight tilt between Augusto Sakai and Dan Charles, can be summarized like this: cup shots, lacking urgency, and ridiculous judging. Sakai did enough to win, but somehow, one judge scored each and every round for Charles, while the other two scored it even, rendering the result a majority draw. The fight wasn’t fun to watch, and was relatively close, but scoring every round for Charles is inexcusable.
The co-main event between former champion Pat Curran and the always-game Georgi Karakhanyan was actually a very good fight; it’s a shame it will probably be overlooked by fans because of the card’s other contests.
Curran cracked his opponent with a massive shot in the first round, coasted through the second, and probably dropped the third, en route to a unanimous-decision win. The fight is definitely worth watching.
The main event, for the middleweight title, was not a good bout. There was little activity, little urgency, and little action throughout its twenty-five minutes. Despite this point, the fact remains that Melvin Manhoef should have won a unanimous decision; he followed a gameplan to a tee and won the fight in the eyes of all but two people, who happened to be scoring the fight.
Now, Bellator is in a bit of a tough spot. They have the option to let Carvalho continue to reign and move on to his next title bout—even though most everyone knows he didn’t beat Manhoef—or rebook this ultra-boring and thoroughly unentertaining match-up, to give Manhoef the chance to claim the title that he should have been awarded.
Be thankful you’re not Bellator’s matchmaker.
Also, it’s important to remember that Bellator 155 was just a minor bump in the road; it’s not fair to denounce the past and future contests of the promotion as “irrelevant” because of one poor event. UFC fans have experienced cards like this before—all of which have been intriguing at the outset, but awful as they unfolded—and they really weren’t anyone’s fault at all; with this many MMA cards being booked, thoroughly uninteresting events are bound to pop-up occasionally.
Let’s move on from Bellator 155 remembering the good fights the promotion has been home to. Also, the judges who scored the main event for Carvalho should be investigated and disbarred (if that’s the proper word) from their positions. Through their ignorance, lacking knowledge of MMA, and/or corruption, they effectively cost a veteran and elite competitor of the sport a title that he rightfully earned after twenty-plus years of fighting.
They should be ashamed.
Venator FC 3 Delivers Awesome Action
Venator’s third show went off without a hitch and was a stark contrast to Bellator 155.
In the main event of the evening, to the surprise of many, Rousimar Palhares was defeated by knockout in under one minute by the Norwegian striker Emil Weber Meek. As he shot in for an expected double-leg takedown, Palhares was greeted by an abundance of elbows to the side of his head, followed by some vicious punches, which put him out. Weber Meek was a massive underdog heading into the contest, and this victory should prompt some major promotions to send offers his way; he did what few have been able to do in KO’ing Palhares in the very first round.
In the co-main event, Venator middleweight champion and UFC veteran Luke Barnatt defended his title against the late-replacement Stefan Croitoru via second-round TKO. It was valiant of Croitoru to step-up, but the skilled Barnatt was simply too much, too soon (especially with no targeted preparation for the Italian athlete, who was scheduled to fight someone else until the weigh-in debacle). However, his once again daring actions helped to save the show, frankly.
Before that, Sokoudjou defeated Matt Hamill via first-round KO in a performance that isn’t receiving as much attention as it should. Sokoudjou found the uppercut early, and not long after, used it once again in a combination that put Hamill out. This was a great way for the Pride, UFC, Dream, Affliction, Strikeforce, and Bellator veteran Sokoudjou—who is still just thirty-two years old—to return to his winning ways.
Mattia Schiavolin defeated Mayhem Miller in a light heavyweight contest via second-round rear-naked choke. Mayhem was lucky the promotion found another fight for him after he missed the middleweight mark by twenty-four pounds, and was removed from his title contest against Barnatt. Mayhem needs to relocate from California and get in-touch with seasoned coaches, as he still has something left to give in MMA.
Other notable results include Karl Amoussou’s gorgeous first-round TKO of Giovanni Melillo. The highly underrated Bellator veteran shouldn’t have been cut after losing to Fernando Gonzalez, and this win—his fifth-consecutive triumph and finish since this Gonzalez contest—is proof of the point.
Cody McKenzie also won—via guillotine—at Venator 3. It’s good to see McKenzie return to his winning ways in classic form. As was detailed during the broadcast, McKenzie also has a smoking-hot girlfriend. Go figure!
This week in MMA was something, to say the least. Like always, we’ll have to approach next week with cautious optimism. Enjoy the fights!