Bellator 99 Recap: Wilcox Demonstrates Heart, “Pitbull” Proves Power
Bellator 99 went down tonight in Temecula, California, at Pechanga Resort & Casino. The crowd was treated to the opening rounds of Bellator’s featherweight tournament and a card that featured 3 x-UFC fighters, in its main and co-main bouts; Vladimir Matyushenko, Houston Alexander & Diego Nunes.
The story of this card has to be Justin Wilcox. If you missed the fight, you should really catch it in replay on SPIKE. Wilcox, who took the fight on nine days’ notice and had to drop twenty pounds, got his butt handed to him in the first, only to turn around and pull it out of the fire in the second, via rear-naked choke. Surely, it was fight-of-the-night and would have fit well on any UFC card.
Beyond that, the story of the night had to be Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. It took the fighter less than a-minute-nineteen to dispose of Diego Nunes and in doing so, he clocked him. The punch resonated across the TV. It was a beautiful shot, combined with great footwork.
The low-lite of the card was easily Vladimir Matyushenko and Houston Alexander. To be blunt, it was pretty boring and in viewing it, I’d tell Alexander that at 41, he should hang it up.
The rest of the main card was entertaining, but not great; although, Joe Taimanglo looked very good in his match with Andrew Fisher.
Finally, honoralbe mention needs to out to Akop Stepanyan. He looked great, tonight and would have won had he not been foolish, and sucumb to a takedown and choke. He had Wilcox dead-to-rights and would surely have finished him, but alas Wilcox scrambled a TD and that was the end of it. Still though, Stepanyan was impressive and is one heck of a stand-up fighter.
Main Card Results:
Fight #1: Joe “The Juggernaut” Taimanglo vs. Andrew Fisher
It was a pretty good fight, but for the most part it was all Taimanglo. The diminutive 5’4” featherweight came out and was the general to the taller, much bigger Fisher. The Juggernaut failed to use his reach advantage and looked more to be in a sparring match, then a fight. For his part, Taimanglo was the better technician, with much better foot work and power. Through a combination of heavy rights and some solid knees, he was able to take all three rounds and by the end of it, was actually smiling in the ring during the fight. Taimanglo wins the bout by way of unanimous decision and advances in the 145 pound tournament.
Fight #2: Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox vs. Akop “The Sniper” Stepanyan
In a word, unbelievable! Stepanyan came out and absolutely owned Wilcox in round one. The Silverback had nothing for him; he was having trouble keeping up with the Sniper, couldn’t take him down and was just getting lit up. Stepanyan actually knocked Wilcox off of his feet four times, with lowkicks to the ankle. By the end of the round Wilcox was visible bruised and hurting. Round two started out as the same with Stepanyan hitting that left angle again, forcing Wilcox to start limping on it. Stepanyan then hit him with a beautiful cart-wheel kick and caught Wilcox on the head, stunning and cutting him. How he survived it, I have no idea. Wilcox somehow got the fight to the ground, but with no ground ‘n pound the fight was in danger of being put back on the feet. Rather than stalling, the Sniper tried to get up and the wrestling heavy Wilcox took his back and sunk in a rear-naked choke as if his life depended on it. In deep, Stepanyan failed to tap and went unconscious; winner by rear-naked choke, at the 2:20 mark of the second round and in an unbelievable comeback, Justin Wilcox; advances.
Fight #3: Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko vs. Houston “The Assassin” Alexander
What to say about this fight? From a positive point of view, it’s easy to see that Alexander has been working on his wrestling. For the most part, he was able to get back up when taken down. However, that was certainly not the case in the third round. In a word this fight was boring. The two fighters didn’t even get a shot off for the first forty-five seconds and then beyond that they didn’t do much else. Matyushenko won all three rounds, but not in any exciting of decisive way. He never really had Alexander hurt in the fight, but then again, Alexander was never really in the fight, either. By the middle of the second he looked tired and offered no offense of any note, past the first. The fight as whole, reminded me of two guys in a parking lot throwing shots. There was very little technique or anything, to suggest that these two guys are real threats to anyone; Matyushenko wins the fight by unanimous decision.
Fight # 4: Fabricio de Assis “Guerreiro” Costa da Silva vs. Desmond “The Predator” Green
This fight looked like it would be good. Both fighters were in shape and active from the start of the fight, but it just never took off. Guerreiro was the more technical and assured fighter, and Green tentative in his strikes. There were exchanges, but nothing you’d really recall or care about. Round two was just about Guerreiro controlling Green up against the fence and delivering some knees to the back of Green’s legs. Round three started out as a reverse of round two, with Green controlling Guerreiro, but Fabricio broke free and that was pretty much it; by my count it was two rounds to one for Guerreiro; winner by unanimous decision, Fabricio de Assis “Guerreiro” Costa da Silva; advances.
Fight # 5: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vs. Diego “The Gun” Nunes
Headline on this fight, is wow! Patricio “Pitbull” Freire came out moving and not being overly aggressive; Nunes began to follow. Without much in the way of anything prior, Nunes came forward and with Pitbull moving back and away to his left, he caught Nunes with a big short left; the sound of the punches impact was audible to the TV audience; thud. Nunes had been clipped cleanly behind the ear on the right side of his head and went down. Pitbull followed him to the canvas with a few more rights, but they weren’t necessary. Nunes was out; winner by TKO at the 1:19 mark of the first round, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire; advances.
Savio Kosic vs. Hector Ramirez: Hector Ramirez wins via unanimous decision
Andy Murad vs. Gavin Sterrit — Gavin Sterrit wins via split decision
Musa Toliver vs. Goiti Yamauchi: Goiti Yamauchi wins via rear naked choke submission (at the 1:01 mark of the first round)
Manny Lara vs. Blagoi Ivanov: Blagoi Ivanov wins via rear naked choke submission (at the 1:17 of the first round)