Fireworks were expected ... and then delivered, in full.
This season's Featherweight Tournament went live tonight with a quartette of opening round bouts at Bellator 76. The show's headliner, which pitted former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez vs. Team Nogueira's Patricky "Pitbull" Freirethe entire card was rife with satisfying stoppages, most of which came in the opening stanza.
As a lead-in to the bevy of gifs from your favorite digital pusher, BE's Zombie Prophet, waiting in the full entry: the main event unfolded in dramatic fashion. After a short "feeling out period," Alvarez walloped Pitbull with a left hook that laid the Brazilian flat on his back. Alvarez pounced with a few punches but Pitbull was not only surprisingly conscious and aware, but back to his feet, plugging left hands into Alvarez' jaw and rocking him in the process, then chasing him down while flashing more leather.
The pair clinched up to gather their senses amidst the outburst, then went right back to it. Alvarez kept leading with a quick, step-in right that left him dangerously exposed to Pitbull's killer left hook, yet he managed to avoid the return fire. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the electric opening round, Alvarez let loose with a high kick that landed flush on the kisser and was already dabbing Pitbull with right hands before he hit the ground. Referee John McCarthy jumped in to wave the fight off at the 4:55 mark of Round 1, giving Eddie Alvarez another stellar knockout victory after he was wobbled by his opponent early.
Make sure to check out all the gifs posted beyond the jump along with full results from the complete Bellator 76 card.
Eddie Alvarez defeats Patricky Freire by 1st-round KO (head kick)
Mike Richman's 23-second knockout of Jeremy Spoon led off the main card and set the tone for an exciting evening. The pair traded mutual combinations before Richman wheeled out a crushing left roundhouse kick with no set up to notch the definitive strike stoppage.
Former WEC fighter and decorated sport grappler Wagnney Fabiano endured stiff volleys of punches from Russian Akop Stepanyan before securing a takedown from the body lock in the clinch. Showing good persistence in riding Stepanyan while he tried to squirm free, Fabiano sliced into full mount as soon as he settled in and was rolling for an armbar a split second later.
Having an ultra-deep lock on the arm and in perfect position, Fabiano was forced to tweak the joint for what seemed like an eternity while Stepanyan exhibited inhuman grit in toughing it out. Fabiano finally readjusted his grip and arched his hips into the hold to elicit the tapout, though Stepanyan earned my respect for gutting it out until the very end.
The only decision on the main card occurred here, as BJJ black belt Nazareno Malegarie showed some improved striking prowess against standout wrestler Rad Martinez. The grappling aspect hardly played in, as Martinez had his way with Malegarie in the 2nd-half of the 1st round, beating Malegarie to the punch, dropping him twice and bloodying up his face with power shots.
The 2nd round was much more competitive. Malegarie regained some momentum and started to find the mark with alternating right and left hooks but the southpaw Martinez landed his fair share as well. Martinez looked to be on the verge of collapsing early in the 3rd round and Malegarie, sensing an advantage, went on the attack. The tide seemed to be shifting until Martinez once again lamped Malegarie with his quick left hand, putting him down on the canvas momentarily, and then closed out the round with a double-leg takedown. All three judges gave Martinez the sweep with 30-27 scores across the board.
The preliminary card results and corresponding gifs follow.
Dom O'Grady defeats AJ Matthews by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Thanks Bellator ... we'll see you next week.