Bellator hosted its last show for the 2013 last night, and the results will have a lot of implications for the promotion in 2014.
Alexander Shlemenko once again put on an entertaining fight, and defended his title for the second time. Shlemenko is a good champion for Bellator, he likes to stay active and always shows up ready to fight. Bellator is actually lucky that Chris Weidman didn't sign with them a few years ago, because he would outclass everyone in the division by such a wide margin that it would not be interesting at all. Weidman would also receive very little credit for his talent beating guys like Shlemenko, Doug Marshall, and Brett Cooper. At least with Shlemenko as champ, there is a feeling that he isn't invincible, and could be taken out by challengers like Marshall, or Brennan Ward.
Rick Hawn recovered from a rough first round, and just laid it on Ron Keslar for the rest of the fight. Hawn got his jab, and overhand right working, and Keslar could not get out of the way. Hawn started landing more power shots as the fight wore on, and by third round he was rocking Keslar, leading to the highlight reel KO finish. Hawn will now fight Douglas Lima, who picked up a tournament win over Ben Saunders earlier this fall. With Bellator releasing Ben Askren from the matching clause in his contract, and pretty much giving up all chances of re-signing him, the Lima/Hawn fight will be for the Bellator Welterweight title. This is good news for Bellator, as Lima/Hawn is a much more competitive fight than either man matched up against Askren and his dominant wrestling game. This was part of my argument all along as to why Bellator should not have fought too hard to hold up Askren. Askren is head and shoulders above his competition in the organization, but that is a testament to how good he is, and not an indictment of Lima or Hawn. Now Bellator will get a fresh new Champion, that will be more competitive with the rest of their division.
Bellator already has an interesting Lightweight division, and it could quickly take another twist. The rumors have swirled that Eddie Alvarez could become a free agent after his next fight with Michael Chandler as part of his contract settlement with Bellator. If those are true, and Alvarez, wins that fight he could potentially leave Bellator as their Champion. Bellator already has two tournament champions waiting in the wings with Dave Jensen, and now Will Brooks waiting for the situation to play out. Do they match Jensen and Brooks for the title if Alvarez leaves as Champ? Do they make Michael Chandler, a guy they have pushed, and pay a very large salary back into the tournament, if he goes into a tourney is it an eight man, or the "King Mo" special, or use some justification to give him a title shot. Or are all the rumors false, and Alvarez will stick around Bellator no matter what.
It was a good end to the season for Bellator, and they have some good fights lined up for next year, and interesting story lines to play out.