Bellator 149 was always going to be a weird event thanks to the 1-2 punch of Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie and Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000. But both fights turned out to be ever stranger than we may have predicted.
In the main event, 49 year old Royce Gracie scored the first TKO win of his entire career, dropping the 52 year old Shamrock before landing some hammerfists on the mat to end it. At first, it looked like Gracie landed a clean knee to set up the KO, but replays showed that it was a groin shot that did the real damage, leading to a very unsatisfying ending to this legends fight. In the post-fight interview, Royce pointed out that the two men came from the time of true No Holds Barred, where groin shots were perfectly legal. It's fitting that this comes from Royce, who has always been forcefully against the modernization of MMA. If you're fighting under Royce Gracie's ideal ruleset, this was a perfectly fair win. If you're Ken Shamrock, it's just another in a long list of times you've been disrespected and screwed over.
As for the rest of the card? Well, it had either the worst or greatest fight in MMA history depending on your perspective, it had Mike Tyson on commentary, and it had Melvin Guillard getting KO'd. Let's take a look at the full craziness that was Bellator 149:
- Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000. I mean, where to even begin? On the one hand, yes, it was a total embarrassment, and maybe the single worst fight in the modern era of MMA. We knew that if by some freak chance it went past the first minute things would get real ugly, and that's exactly what happened, with two fighters so gassed they both had to be helped up off their stools for the 3rd round. On the other hand, I would by lying if I said I wasn't thoroughly entertained by the sheer absurdity of it all. And to cap of the absurdity was the only finish that this fight truly deserved, as the just slightly less gassed Kimbo lands enough punches on Dada that the 265 pounder just sort of stumbles away and collapses in a heap. Knocked out? Just so winded he passed out? Who can really say? But it certainly was a finish and a fight I will not forget for a long time. Now let us never speak of it again.
- Derek Campos scored a nasty 2nd round KO win over Melvin Guillard, stopping the veteran with a barrage of violent punches. Guillard came out fast and furious, looking to make it a slugfest. Campos obliged, and it went poorly for The Young Assassin. Campos controlled every aspect of this fight, hurting Guillard in the early exchange, controlling him through the first, then getting the job done early in the 2nd. Campos is a talent who's been matched tough lately - good to see him back in the win column in a big way. As for Guillard, he's 1-3 since his release from the UFC two years ago, and his Bellator run is clearly a bust. It's hard to envision a future in MMA going well for him at this point.
- Mike Tyson was on commentary for the Guillard fight and it was everything you could want it to be. Also, Tyson is a huge Dan Severn fan. Who knew?
- Emanuel Newton vs. Linton Vassell was a weird fight. First round was a strong grappling performance from Vassell, who looked very good on the mat. In the second round, Newton used his striking and wrestling to come back, but the round was mostly marked by both a Vassell fence grab and a pair of Netwon groin shots (he also had one in the first round). From there, they never really got their momentum going again. But in the closing minutes, Vassell dug deep and willed himself to victory, taking control at fight's end and turning a likely majority draw into a decision win. It wasn't always pretty, but this is a big win for Vassell that firmly puts him in this upper tier of the pretty stacked Bellator Light Heavyweight division.
- With that, Newton goes from a 13-1 run and the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, to a current 0-3 run. I certainly don't feel like he's done, or that he can't turn things around, but his next fight is going to be a major must-win situation for him.
- Daniel Pineda and Emmanuel Sanchez turned in a very entertaining scrap to kick off the Spike broadcast. Pineda took the first round with some nice grappling work, but he gassed after that, letting Sanchez really dominate in the third. The fight came down to the second round - a round where Pineda was tired and Sanchez seemed able to control, but instead let Pineda stay in it by giving up too many takedowns. In the end, it was enough to get Sanchez the win, but it was a close split decision. He's clearly a good prospect whose ability to push until the final bell has brought him solid success so far, but I'd like to see him work on not giving up ground positioning - that's going to be an issue as he moves up the ladder.
- Giving Sanchez a 10-8 for round three is bold. I'm not sure I would go that far, but I fully approve of judges letting go of the strict 10-9 mentality, so kudos.
BELLATOR 149 RESULTS
Royce Gracie def. Ken Shamrock, KO, Round 1, 2:22
Kimbo Slice def. Dada 5000, KO, Round 3, 1:32
Derek Campos def. Melvin Guillard, KO, Round 2, 0:32
Linton Vassell def. Emanuel Newton, Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27)
Emmanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Pineda, Split Decision (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)