Bellator promoted King Mo vs. Rampage Jackson as "the biggest grudge match in MMA," and hoped that the two would put on a fight worthy of anchoring their first foray into the pay-per-view market. The main event mostly fizzled, but the rest of the card delivered in various ways.
I started typing this before the scorecards were read for Mo vs. Rampage and was already typing up how the night was full of upsets, capped by Mo outworking Jackson to win the light heavyweight tournament.
But then, fight sports happened. It's not an MMA problem, it's not a boxing problem, it's a fight sports problem and a larger scale regulatory problem.
There is simply no way to score two rounds for Rampage in that fight, but they still found a way to do it and rob Lawal of a clear victory.
The fight wasn't exciting, it wasn't some thrilling blow-off to a highly hyped grudge match, but it was Mo simply doing more than Jackson. But that just doesn't matter in a sport where the fate of fighters is left up to people who score things on bizarre whims.
- Lawal's blow-up toward Bjorn Rebney was one of the highlights of the night. During the Spike TV portion of the card, Mo called Rebney a "dick rider" when it comes to Rampage, and he continued it...going the extra mile after the decision was read. He also basically dared Rebney to fire him, which won't happen because there's money to be made. But puts Rebney in an awkward spot.
- Michael Chandler losing to Will Brooks didn't make much sense to me either. I had no problem with a draw, but I don't understand anyone scoring the fight for Brooks. Maybe a rewatch will change my mind, but I thought it was 48-47 Chandler (my score) or 47-47 depending on if you gave Brooks a 10-8 round.
- Chandler losing sinks Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez 3, which is a bummer. Alvarez vs. Brooks is good stuff on paper, but there was something about concluding the trilogy when it meant something, but now it has been tainted by Brooks if it ever does happen.
- Speaking of tainted, Bellator's decision to throw their middleweight champ, who is undersized in the division, in with a washed up light heavyweight sure did backfire. Tito Ortiz looked slow and unimpressive against Alexander Shlemenko, until he got a takedown and sunk an arm triangle in like it was nothing. You can bang the "he was moving up a division" drum all you like, but Ortiz had a single win since UFC 66, so it's hard to shrug off losing to him if you're supposed to be one of the best fighters in the world, as Bellator had attempted to sell Shlemenko
- Alexander Volkov beating Blagoy Ivanov was typical forgettable heavyweight MMA stuff, not unique to Bellator, but especially prevalent with the forced tournament narrative. Still, Volkov won and that's something.
- Michael Page is the best thing in Bellator and one of the best things in all of MMA. He is so profoundly obnoxious in his showboating during fights, but so deadly accurate that he's thrilling to watch. We can all sit around and complain that he has to "take a real step up" but why not enjoy the violence?
- All in all, it was a memorable night. Given that it wasn't going to be the kind of night that changed the MMA landscape, that's pretty much all that one could ask for. There was a smattering of the surreal with some great performances thrown in. It probably didn't sell much on PPV, but it wasn't a total waste if you decided to drop your hard earned money to give it a watch.