Friday, June 23, 2017

The Rocktagon Recap of Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva!

Can't afford the PPV, or your desktop too damn slow to stream the card online? No worries, homey - our LIVE(ish) coverage while keep you in the loop ALL night long. 


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

You know, this actually isn't the first Bellator PPV - they tried doing this "give us money to watch people who haven't been relevant for at least five years" shtick  in May 2014, which - very, very suspiciously - drew upwards of 100,000 buys despite being headlined by a way past his prime Rampage Jackson and a never-even-had-a-prime King Mo.

With the UFC busting the gates of MSG wide open last November, Bellator pulled out all the stops to make their sophomore PPV event the grandest imaginable. And by "grandest," I mean "the most fuckin' ridiculous thing you've ever seen anybody do in their life." With all of the hot up-and-coming talent in the promotion, what did Scott Coker book as their top-billed bout in NYC? That's right - they're putting a guy who hasn't fought in four years in the cage against a dude who probably took a dive in his last match and asking Joe and Susie Q. Public to shell out $50 a set to see it. And if THAT wasn't enough to get you to fork over your wallet, they even had the foresight to book 40-year-old FEDOR EMELIANENKO against a dude whose highest profile win has come against Gabriel goddamn Gonzaga. If nothing else, you have to admire the sheer balls of that kinda' booking - with glorified freak shows like this, Bellator isn't even trying to establish themselves as serious competitor to the UFC, and in a weird way, I think that's actually for the best

Of course, we do have some real fights on the docket tonight, including no less than three championship bouts - the best looking one, of course, relegated to the free Spike TV preshow, because fuck it, that's just how they do things at Bellator. Granted, this may not be a contender for card-of-the-year, but with so much way out there tomfoolery on the line-up, there's really no way you can avert your eyes from the practically guaranteed trainwreck.

As always, we here at The Internet Is In America will be offering you LIVE(ish) play-by-play commentary for the whole PPV affair, which is plum peachy for those of you who can't afford to order the PPV legally or stream it illegally through some dude in England's site. We'll start doing updates at 10 p.m., Eastern time, with instant hit-by-hit, kick-by-kick and choke-by-choke coverage coming at you in-between every round. So what are you waiting for? Go on ahead and bookmark this shit for Saturday night, and keep hitting that refresh button, will you? And lastly, be sure to tell your fightin' friends about our free community service - it helps pay the bills around these parts, y'know...

Alright, we are calling this hootenanny LIVE from MSG in NYC. Calling the action from the crow's nest is MIKE GOLDBERG, Josh Thompson and THE Brendan Schaub, while MAURO RANALLO and Jimmy Smith call it live cageside. LOL at Ranallo saying Lorenz Larkin has "sleeping aides" for a right hand. Hey, I thought that was Bill Cosby's line!

Nope ... doesn't remind me of anything at all.

We've got a lengthy video package for the Douglas Lima/Lorenz Larkin title bout. Eh, it's nothing special.

Larkin comes out to "Something in the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. Shit, what an original pick for a walkout song. Also, somebody is doing the old Tatanka whooping cry in the audience and it's annoying as all fuck. Lima comes out to some techno hip-hop song I've never heard before. But it sounds like it would be right at home in a car commercial circa 2009, though. The in-ring announcer is some guy named Michael C. Williams, who's like a poor man's version of Michael Buffer, who himself is just a poor man's Bruce Buffer.

Bellator Welterweight Championship Bout
Lorenz Larkin (18-5-0-0) vs. Douglas Lima (28-6-0-0)

Longtime Bellator staple Douglas Lima reclaimed the company's 170-pound strap last November when he bested Andrey Koreshkov in Israel (and no, Bellator, regrettably, didn't call the event "Hebrewin' Up Trouble," like they should have.) Meanwhile, challenger Lorenz Larkin - a guy who, since 2011, served as a midcarder in Strikeforce and the UFC - was last seen elbowing Neil Magny half to death a year ago. Since it's a championship bout, this one is scheduled for five rounds ... which, considering these two guys' less than explosive styles ... might just be the longest 25 minutes of all our respective lives.

Big John McCarthy is the ref. Interestingly, Lima is a Brazilian who is billed as fighting out of Atlanta, Ga. Mauro says both men are capable of "stealing souls" with their gloves. Shit, I hope that's just a metaphor, or else we're in store for some spooky Shang Tsung shit tonight. Larkin has random shapes shaved into his skull. Well, three minutes in, we've got nothing but leg kicks going on. No, I'm not kidding, that's literally all that's happened so far tonight. Larkin with a one-two, but all he hits is air. Lima hits a hard thigh kick. Lima with an uppercut to close out the round.

Round two. Rory MacDonald is in the crowd. Ranallo - who I didn't know was Canadian until right now - said he thinks he should nickname himself "the Canadian Psycho." Larkin with a combo. Larkin with another combo but Lima blocks all the shots except for the midsection kick at the end. Lima with a straight jab. Larkin staggers him. LIMA DROPS HIM AND MAKES HIM EAT A MILLION BILLION ELBOWS. Lima in the closed guard. Larkin manages to get back to his feet. Larkin with a jumping knee that doesn't really do anything. Larkin misses on a huge uppercut. Definitely a 10-9 round for the defending champ (that's Lima, by the way.)

Round three. For those of you wondering, the cage is plastered with product placement for Miller Light, KFC and the new Planet of the Apes movie. Lima misses on a kick and actually knocks the shit out of one of the cage pads. Lima connects on a low kick. Larkin misses a punch by a mile. There isn't shit happening so the announcers keep talking about the next match on the card. A minute left. Lima with a gut punch. Larking throws a bajillion combos, but he doesn't hit a damn thing. Eh, I've got it 30-27 right now for Lima.

Round four. Matt Mitrione walked into the arena wearing a Batman shirt, while Fedor looks pretty much the same as he did in 2003. Other ads on the mat? Product placement for Dave and Buster's, the Marines and some kind of liquor I think is called Blackheart. Oh shit, there's one for Monster, too - can't forget, you can't have an MMA promotion without some kind of energy drink sponsorship. Ranallo says Larkin needs to "pump up the volume." Some guy on Twitter says this is "an awesome fight," so we know there's at least one person out there watching the PPV while high on crystal meth. OK, four minutes in and all these fuckers have done is thrown punches at the wind. Larkin tries to close the gap and Lima kicks him in the stomach. Lima gets a leg trip and he hops in the open guard. Both men up and doing absolutely nothing while dry humping against the cage. Begrudgingly, I'd give the round to Lima.

Round five. Sweet fuck, Rory MacDonald is going to ass impregnate whoever wins this fight. Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture are in the crowd, and considering how much Bellator likes them some UFC wash-ups, I'm actually shocked neither one of them were booked for tonight's event. Smith says Lima is more effective but Larkin is busier. The Compustrike stats say both of these guys are batting less than 30 percent with connected punches in this bout. A brief "Let's go Larkin" chant breaks out. Wait, since when did American Top Team have a gym in Atlanta? OK, three minutes in, and ain't doo-doo going on. Larkin with a couple of high kicks, but they don't connect. Ninety seconds left. The two exchange leg kicks. Lima with a high kick to the shoulder. Thirty seconds left. Nobody does anything so the commentators just talk about how much Jimmy Smith looks like Joe Rogan instead.

I think Larkin may have won the last round, but I use the term "won" very, very loosely. Let's go to the judges, why don't we? It's 50-45 and two 48-47s for Douglas Lima.

In the post-fight, Lima wears a tee shirt that says "fight for your right to vape" and thanks Jesus. He says he ain't afraid of Rory MacDonald and the camera pans to him and he looks uninterested as fuck and it is glorious.

With such luminaries as Michael Page and Brennan Ward, Goldberg says Bellator's welterweight fray is among the best in all of MVP. Goddamn, I have no words for that. Meanwhile, MacDonald says he thought the last fight sucked (finally, somebody who speaks the truth) and he's gonna' beat Douglas Lima like a conga drum. And here's a hard sell for the Aug. 25 show, which takes place in some Indian casino in the Catskills.

We get a video package for Aaron Pico, who literally dropped out of high school to become a fighter. Well, it's about time we had a fighter today's wayward youths could look up to. Freeman comes out wearing his pants up to his he-titties and is accompanied by literal stock audio that sounds like something you'd hear on the Weather Channel. Also, he has the worst white person cornrows you've ever seen in your life, and that's saying something. Pico comes out to "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin. He's just 20 years-old, but he already has BJ Penn-level cauliflowered ears.

This is what losing million and millions of dollars looks like.

Lightweight Bout
Zach Freeman (8-2-0-0) vs. Aaron Pico (0-0-0-0)

Freeman is a 33-year-old fighter making his Bellator debut this evening. Nicknamed "The Altar Boy," the St. Charles, Missouri has tooled around in various no-name promotions since 2011. His opponent, however, isn't just making his company debut - he's making his first appearance in any kind of MMA competition. Bellator signed Aaron Pico when he was barely 18-years-old and have waited a good three years before unleashing him on the waiting world. Despite not even having an amateur MMA contest under his belt, Pico nonetheless has quite the combat sports pedigree, having won a litany of junior national and international championships in wrestling, boxing and pankration. So yeah, Bellator is betting a lot on this Pico kid becoming a huge, Conor McGregor/Ronda Rousery-esque phenom - and by golly, I reckon that Freeman chap would just love to rain all over their parade, wouldn't he?

The ref is Rob Hinds. Holy shit, Freeman just popped Pico with an uppercut once, locked him in a D'arce choke and he fucking TAPS.

The official time is just 24 seconds. In the post-fight Freeman says some shit about the power of belief and declares he wants to fight everybody in the 155-pound division. Remember kids: STAY IN FUCKING SCHOOL.

In the crow's nest, Thompson and Schaub try to salvage what's left of the Pico hype train. Naturally, they say he'd be better at 145.

OK, time to pimp the 155-pound title bout. Let's roll the hype video!

Primus comes out to "Sail" by AWOLNation, when we all know he should've come out to "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver." Chandler comes out to a song that sounds like it was lifted from a Madea movie, and there's a whole bunch of Photoshop fire plastered all over his Titantron promo. How original.

As it turns out, a one-legged man really doesn't have much of a chance in an ass kicking contest...

Bellator Lightweight Championship Bout
Brent Primus (7-0-0-0) vs. Michael Chandler (16-3-0-0)

Current Lightweigh Champ Mike Chandler is riding a four-fight winning streak, with his latest victory coming against Ben Henderson, who I TOTALLY forgot was in this company until I looked at the Wikipedia page. Meanwhile, the undefeated Brent Primus - whose middle name, I assure you, isn't Mud - is 5-0 in Bellator competition and apparently spent a lot of his childhood homeless and/or selling drugs for a living. This one is scheduled for five rounds, so if I were you, I'd be hitting the caffeine hard ... this 'un might take a while.

The referee is Todd Anderson. Both men throwing a ton of leg kicks. Chandler slips and his ankle looks fucked up, so naturally Primus starts thwacking the fuck out of it. Chandler's leg almost gives out on him. Chandler lands a solid jab as a counter to Primus' attempted leg kick. And the ref stops the fight so Chandler can get his leg checked out. Except the ref CAN'T do that and the doctors stop the fight and there's this great moment where Chandler jumps up and says "let's go" to try and get the crowd fired up but the doctors pull the stool out from under him and he falls flat on his ass.

And the TKO comes at 2:20 of the very first round - we've got ourselves a new world champ.

Primus says he's going to give Chandler and automatic rematch. So far, Chandler is the only person who's gotten anything even remotely resembling a pop from the audience. He says he wants them to cut off his taped up leg and he'll keep fighting. Up in the crow's nest, Thompson and Schaub do their best to make it sound like Chandler is still the company's marquee fighter, but yeah ... it ain't exactly effective. And LOL at Goldberg reminding Schaub about that time he got knocked out by Roy Nelson back in 2009.

Time for the Fedor/Mitrione hype video! Matt says he feels like "a douche" for having kidney stones and missing the Bellator 172 main event. Royce Gracie and Randy Couture put over Fedor and yeah, I am getting a little goosebumpy.

Mitrione comes out to "Simple Man" by Skynyrd. Meanwhile, Fedor comes out to some Soviet propaganda music ... I think.

...and there goes another million dollars down the shitter.

Heavyweight Bout
Matt Mitrione (11-5-0-0) vs. Fedor Emelianenko (36-4-0-0)


Of course, this bout was supposed to headline a free Spike TV show earlier this year, but it got scratched when Mitrione ran out of tampons. At this point, what can I say about Fedor that hasn't already been said by more eloquent, thoughtful souls than I? Granted, the Fedor we got here tonight ain't exactly the same fighter that had all those classic fights against Big Nog and Crocop and Kevin Randleman, but you never can tell when a dude is really passed his prime in MMA ... just ask 46-year-old World Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture. Mitrione, the far younger fighter, used to play in the NFL and did a fairly long stint in the UFC, where he once kicked Kimbo Slice's shins off and murder-death-killed Derrick Lewis in just 41 seconds. He hasn't fought in about a year, though, so he could show some serious signs of cage rust. But then again, you could say the exact same thing about Fedor - and unlike last time, he doesn't have Putin around to override the judge's scorecard - or does he?

Fedor gets a huge ovation. And man, is it weird to see those non-Reebok sponsorship banners getting unfurled, huh? Dan Mirgliato is the ref. Fedor needs a translator to know to touch gloves. Fedor with a leg kick. THEY KNOCK EACH OTHER DOWN AT THE SAME TIME, BUT MITRIONE GETS UP FIRST AND POUNCES FEDOR'S CORPSE AND PUNCHES HIM OUT UNTIL THE REF WAVES IT OFF!

The official time of the KO is at 1:14 of round number one. Before the post-fight Mitrione puts on a New York Giants jersey. "This shit is going to be just like that time I knocked out Derrick Lewis," he said. In the best moment of all-time, he says fuck the Golden State Warriors he'll come visit Donald Trump at the White House and follows it up by telling people to donate to a GoFundMe for the family of Tim Hague.

Mitrione hugs on Chuck Zito and Randy Couture in the crowd. "Pride is officially dead" Schaub says.

What the hell? A Gracie ... winning by submission?

We've got some time to kill so we're going to have Dave Marfone vs. Neiman Gracie - which I guess was originally scheduled to go on after the main event - up next.

Gracie with a takedown early. He has Marfone's back. Gracie with a big right hand and then he slips and falls flat on his ass. Gracie is in the full mount. Marfone is up. Gracie goes for another takedown and Marfone shakes him off. Both men back up. Gracie with a leg kick. Marfone locks in a DEEP guillotine choke with seconds left. Gracie's saved by the bell. 

Round two. This is a welterweight contest, if you were wondering. Gracie with some high kicks. Gracie grinding Marfone up against the cage. Gracie has Marfone's back. Now he has a standing body triangle. Marfone falls backwards but Gracie still has his foe's back. He sinks in a rear naked choked - it's deep and Marfone TAPS.

The tap came at 2:27 at the second round. Renzo and Royce celebrate in the crowd.  In the post-fight, he speaks English, but just barely.

And here's our hype tape for the main event. Sonnen says Silva jumped him in front of his wife back when they were filming that one season of The Ultimate Fighter in Brazil and now he wants REVENGE, damn it.

Sonnen's Titantron has a reference to 911 - the emergency phone number - in it. During a PPV in New York. Ladies and gentlemen ... that's Bellator. His music is "Too Much Fun," by some country music singer. Silva's Titantron is a pastiche of a horror movie, but at least he still comes out to "Sandstorm," as God and everybody else knows he should.

When you have to use a guillotine choke as a rest hold, you know it's probably time to hang 'em up ...

Light Heavyweight Bout
Wanderlei Silva (35-12-0-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-15-1-0)


Well, here we have it, folks - the veritable Grudge Match of MMA. Both these fighters were supposed to have a big money UFC showdown about four years ago, but since both men have a bad habit of failing drug tests, that shit never came to fruition. Proving once and for all that Scott Coker is hellbent on turning the organization into the mixed martial arts equivalent of TNA wrestling, Bellator decided to snatch up both men - who, for several years, have been in a state of de facto retirement - to resolve that made-for-TV bad blood literally everybody and their mamas forgot about at least three years ago. In case you're wondering, Wanderlei hasn't fought since 2013 and Sonnen broke a three-year retirement spell to pretty much throw a fight against Tito Ortiz earlier this year. So - needless to say - expect a pure-D shit show of legendary ... and dare I say it, Kimbo and Dada ... proportions.

Both the Brazilian and American national anthems are played. The "Star Spangled Banner" is performed by Dave Navarro, of all people. And it only took about 20 minutes, too! Sonnen with a takedown already. Big John is the ref. Loud "USA" chants. Sonnen popping Silva with rights on the ground. Sonnen going for a can opener submission, of all things. It ain't working, so he just keeps hitting him with elbows. Silva gets to his feet. And, of course, Silva drops Sonnen with a right hand. Now Silva's in the full mount. Sonnen gets up and lands a takedown and then Silva tries to lock in a guillotine. Sonnen transitions to the full mount. About thirty seconds left. Sonnen trying to get a kimura. Sonnen lands some elbows as the round expires. A tough one to call, but I'd go 10-9 for Sonnen.

Round two. "You got clipped, pussy!" Tito Ortiz yells on camera. Sonnen with a jumping knee. Silva clips him on the rebound with a knee of his own. Now Silva is looking for a guillotine choke. Silva is bleeding from his right eye and he is sucking wind hard. "This is not the mannequin challenge," Ranallo declares during the inaction. The ref stands 'em up. Sonnen with a running takedown. Sonnen not doing much pound with his ground right now. Ninety seconds left. Sonnen lands some pillow hand punches as the bell sounds. 20-18 Sonnen, in my book.

Round three. And Sonnen gets the takedown. He's in the butterfly guard. Sonnen with some shitty elbows to the head. Now Sonnen is going for a kimura. He loses it. Now he's fishing for the kimura again. Sonnen's got the full mount. One minute left. LOL at the "Fuck You, Tito" chants coming from the audience ... and he's not even in the fight. With twenty seconds left, Sonnen just hits Silva with shoulder strikes and takes no chances. It has to be 30-27 for Sonnen. 

Let's go the judges. One 30-26 and two 30-27s for Chael Sonnen. "Goddamn I hate New York," Sonnen says in the post-fight. He challenges Fedor and Silva pushes him as he leaves the cage.

We take it back to Goldberg, Thompson and Schaub. They wonder whether Sonnen's next opponent will be Fedor, Ortiz or Wanderlei again. Holy shit, this is WCW booking Hulk Hogan against Randy Savage in 1999 all over again. Goldie pimps an upcoming card in Thackerville, Okla., and - thankfully - that's all she wrote from MSG.

And it is alllll over ... for Bellator's financial feasibility in the MMA marketplace.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Well, you might as well do Chael Sonnen vs. Fedor Emelianenko next, which - knowing Bellator - will probably take place in front of 2,000 paying customers at Yankee Stadium or something. The company will probably do some kind of elaborate eight-man grand prix to determine a new heavyweight champion, so odds are Matt Mitrione will wind up fighting somebody like Quinton Jackson or Roy Nelson on some crappy Spike TV card next - and of course, everybody involved will get hurt so it will inevitably end up being two shitty reserve fighters duking it out for the company title at the very end, which, in a way, is the most Bellator of all possible outcomes. Clearly, a rematch between Brent Primus and Michael Chandler is definitely in order, and Rory MacDonald will undoubtedly be the next man in line for a shot at Douglas Lima's title. And as for Ryan Bader's first title defense as Bellator's Light Heavyweight Champ? Eh, like you, me or anybody else really gives a shit, but it will probably be against Liam McGeary, or possibly Linton Vassel.

THE VERDICT: Well, that show was ... something else, to be sure. None of the fights were anywhere close to being "good" in the traditional sense, but at least we got a lot of fluky finishes that ensure Bellator will never, ever make money again. This show was kinda' like watching a big WCW PPV from 1998 - you could enjoy the cult of personality nonsense and the brazen nostalgia porn, but there's no denying this product isn't stuck in the past and is in no way, shape or form built for the future. If UFC is the NFL, Bellator is the equivalent of your high school's 20 year reunion flag football game, and nothing solidified that more than tonight's reverse humdinger of a PPV.

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: Probably Matt Mitrione and Chael Sonnen's post-fight interviews.

SHOW LOWLIGHT: Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin was so boring, it actually made me look forward to the next Nik Lentz match-up.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "The Gracies have more branches than Bank of America" - Mauro Ranallo commenting on Brazil's most famous fighting family.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT'S SHOW:

  • All you have to do to retain a championship is punch a guy 45 million times over a 20-second span in the second round and then spend the next 15 minutes doing diddly squat.
  • Apparently, Aaron Pico dropped out of high school right before the class that taught you had to guard your chin. 
  • Just because an official makes a fighter with a clearly shattered ankle hop around on one foot for an entire round doesn't mean New York has a refereeing problem. 
  • Rocky 2 CAN happen in real life. 
  • Wrestling ALWAYS triumphs over whatever the fuck Wanderlei Silva's been doing for the last five years.

Well, that's all I've got for you this week. Crank up "So Electric" by Lifelike and "Breaking Out" by The Protomen and I will be seeing you cageside in just a few.

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