Bellator 66 took place in Cleveland, Ohio this Friday and was considered Bellator Fighting Championships most anticipated card of the year. It matched two of the best Lightweights in the world, Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki, against each other in a super fight as well as featured the semifinals of both the Lightweight and Middleweight tournaments.
For full results and play-by-play click here.
Alvarez saved his relevancy with that win. He continues to be one of the best, if not the best, Lightweight outside of the Zuffa employ. His defensive striking is still a concern and there is the loss to Michael Chandler, but after last night Alvarez is still a Top 10 Lightweight.
Aoki had a tough night. I think he was still rocked when Alavrez jumped in and then overwhelmed him with strikes from the half guard. Much has been made of Aoki working on his kickboxing at Evolve MMA and he seemed more comfortable on the feet and that was the problem.
The conventional wisdom in MMA right now is that grapplers like Aoki need to develop their striking in order to make that next big jump. But Aoki's grappling and his focus on it is what makes him so dangerous and to focus so much time and energy on become mediocre at striking takes away from that. Aoki's attempted standing elbow showed that he was comfortable enough on the feet to get cute, but not experienced enough to safely execute the techniques. I believe a saying a coach of mine best sums up what happened with Aoki's striking Friday night, "he knew just enough to get his ass kicked".
Video after the jump...
I think Aoki will remain a tough out for fighters and will is a wild card to win against any Lightweight on the planet with his outstanding submission offense, but consistent success is nothing something he will ever enjoy at the top levels of the sport.
Thiago Michel showed weak wrestling and bottom game against Brent Weedman. Michel's stand up likely was enough to take the match, but ended up loosing a split decision in the first a few questionable call by the Ohio Athletic Commission judges.
Maqieul Falcao looked equally weak attempting to defend the judo trip assault Vyacheslav Vasilevsky put on him. And Falcao despite, remaining active on his back, achieved very little from the ground until the end of the second round, when he put the Russian on his back. One of the biggest weaknesses of Sambo and Russian Judo based fighters is often they have very little to offer off their back, and Vasilevsky appears to not be an exception. It was an uninspiring match that Vasilevsky likely should have won but the judges gave to Falcao.
Rick Hawn put on a clinic on how to deal with a hyper-aggressive brawler. He kept Lloyd Woodard from ever being able to set his feet, never stood in the pocket, either disengaging or clinching. And when Woodard became visibly frustrated and bull rushed Hawn, a quick right hand put the fight in the win column for Hawn.
Andreas Spang took a beating at the hands of Brian Rogers, much to the pride of the home-crowd. That is until a sassy counter left hook by Spang put Brian on Queer Street. It was a fantastically entertaining fight and continued a very good week for Swedish MMA.
The scuffle after the fight between Spang and Falcao was unfortunate. Spang shoved Falcao, but Falcao responded by faking a punch and then kneeing Spang to the body. We'll see if suspensions are handed out and how that will affect the Bellator Middleweight tournament final.
Bellator 66 HighLights (via BellatorMMA)