Bellator 172 took place live from SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday evening. The tent-pole event was supposed to be headlined by a highly-anticipated heavyweight bout between the legendary Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione, but “Meathead” was forced out of the contest on fight night with an illness.
“Pitbull” stepped into the cage on Saturday as an underdog, but proved that he’s still one of the best lightweights the organization has to offer. He played a very patient game, but that paid off. He timed a shot perfectly in the opening five minutes to briefly knock Thomson down, likely earning himself the first round in the judges’ eyes.
In the second round, Thomson was knocked down, but didn’t get up. After briefly knocking his opponent down yet again with what appeared to be a headbutt, Freire clocked the former Strikeforce champion with a powerful uppercut that shut Thomson’s lights out. Freire followed up with a couple ground-and-pound blows and the referee was forced to step in.
What was the highlight of this fight?
Well, not much else happened other than Freire’s right-hand uppercut. It was a very clean performance from the Brazilian; he took no damage, won in spectacular fashion, and delivered a fun post-fight interview. The night couldn’t have gone better for him.
Where do these two go from here?
Freire is right back at the top of the lightweight division. But the only problem is that going into the Thomson fight, he was coming off a knockout loss to Michael Chandler, which occurred last summer in a fight that determined the 155-pound champion following Will Brooks’ departure. Chandler vs. Freire II somewhat makes sense, as Freire-Thomson was considered a No. 1 contender fight by most, but that’s not necessarily a rematch that should happen right away and one that would intrigue fans. The organization will have a tough decision to make, because the top of the lightweight division is quite foggy right now.
This was Thomson’s first loss under the Bellator MMA banner and only his second stoppage loss in his veteran career. He’s still one of Bellator MMA’s best 155-pounders, and I won’t be surprised to see him get back on track in his next outing and make his way back to the title mix. That said, if he steps away from the sport following this loss, I won’t be shocked, either.
Watch now, later or never?
Bellator 172 wasn’t a fantastic card. The loss of Emelianenko vs. Mitrione drastically hurt its star-power, and some of its main card fights were less than visibly appealing. But the event was capped off in devastating fashion, and you have to watch Freire wreck Thomson as soon as possible.