As UFC President Dana White said several weeks ago regarding the short UFC on Fox main event, you can't control what happens in the cage. Bellator found that out at Bellator 59 last Saturday as a bizarre groin kick ended the promotion's strong fifth season on a flat note despite plenty of highlights and building blocks for 2012.
With Thiago Santos' down the pike kick to the nether region of a grounded Eric Prindle, the heavyweight tournament ended without a winner as the fight was called a no-contest, overshadowing the rise of a new bantamweight contender and the return to glory of one of Bellator's top stars.
As of this writing, Prindle is still awaiting the swelling to go down in his right testicle but holds no ill will towards a very apologetic Santos. Prindle posted a pic of the injury on his Twitter feed Saturday which was, well, something else.
Regarding Prindle/Santos, no one could have looked good following Santos' kick, regardless of what the final outcome was. A DQ win for Prindle would have caused controversy and hurt his standing going into a title fight with Cole Konrad. The no contest felt flat but considering the unique situation, nothing was going to make it right. It was the worst case scenario and it came true to everyone's chagrin.
However, there is a bright spot in that Bellator's first show of 2012 can be stacked up if they want it to be. With Santos/Prindle, Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu defending against Travis Wiuff in a rightfully earned title shot and Eddie Alvarez competing in the first round of the expected 155-pound tournament, that would be a hell of a way for Bellator to kick off season six.
Lost amidst the zaniness of swollen balls was the effort of 22-year-old Eduardo Dantas, who turned it on late and earned a unanimous decision win over the previously undefeated Alexis Vila to earn himself a shot at 135-pound champ Zach Makovsky (14-2) early next year. After losing a bland first round, Dantas (13-2) excelled in the final 10 minutes and did what no other contender has done to Vila yet: make him look old.
Makovsky/Dantas may not be a ratings draw, but the two have combined for 14 straight wins and Dantas represents Makosvky's toughest test to date...in addition to the first defense of the title he won in October 2010.
So What Now?
With this season now history, there are questions about when the final year on MTV2 will kick off. In past seasons, March or April marked the beginning of the Bellator calendar but February has continued to be thrown around as well. The company has four title matches set for next year in addition to five different tournaments, making for what could be the best season in company history.
As of the time of this column, the five divisions represented in those tournaments have yet to be clarified, but one would expect 145, 155, 170, 205 and the women's 125-pound division to be featured with lightweight and welterweight being the standout classes.
News & Notes
- Patricky "Pitbull" Freire made his presence felt once again with a first round TKO win over Kurt Pellegrino, his first appearance since a loss to Michael Chandler earlier this year. While the stoppage looked premature, Pellegrino didn't argue too much after the defeat and announced to the crowd he was retiring for good.
- In an interview with MMA Junkie Monday, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney suggested that the end is nigh for the women's 115-pound division, meaning current champion Zoila Gurgel will have to go up in weight next year if she wants to compete. If they're abandoning the division, shouldn't she earn a bye into the 125-pound finals?
- There was some controversy with the scoring in last Saturday's opening fight between Marcin Held and Phillipe Nover. Held earned a split decision win which many (including color commentator Jimmy Smith) suggested was wrong. This writer scored the final two rounds for Nover, but it wasn't the complete travesty of justice some claim. Bad decision? Yes, but we're used to this by now, aren't we?
- Smart move by Bellator/MTV2 last Saturday to replay the Chandler/Alvarez title match from a week prior, in addition to making the fight available for free streaming all last week. By comparison, the UFC still has yet to announce how people can see Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson from the UFC on Fox undercard. I guess we're still supposed to shut up about that, however.