It’s Tuesday yet again and as is now customary on Pundit Arena, we take a look at the best mixed martial arts action from this past weekend.
Bellator 127 kicked things off and the main event produced a 54 second TKO victory for Daniel Straus. Straus, a former featherweight champion had his eyes firmly focused on retaining his belt and may have made a case for a title shot once again.
Justin Wilcox’s patchy form coming into the fight showed up as he initially ate a looping overhand right from Straus. The power behind the shot dropped Wilcox almost immediately and ate more punishment before the referee called a halt to the contest. ‘Contest’ is a bit kind for this bout as Straus dominated with quick feet and crisp boxing before finishing impressively in front of new Bellator boss, Scott Coker.
On Saturday, the UFC had not one, but two fight night events right after each other.
Stockholm, Sweden was our first trip where things got off to a very quick start as Russian fighters, Zubaira Tukhugov and Mairbek Taisumov made short work of Ernest Chavez and Marcin Bandel respectively with TKO victories for both.
Irish eyes were fixated upon the Octagon as Cathal Pendred took on Gasan Umalatov in a fairly draining fight. Umalatov looked to counter Pendred’s shots as the Irishman attempted to close the distance. Despite eating a couple of stiff jabs, Pendred was rarely in any significant danger as the Dubliner pressed forward, took control and picked his shots with precision.
In truth, the bout never caught fire and Umalatov continued to pedal backwards making it a very frustrating fight to watch.
In the end, it was Pendred who obtained the split decision victory and kept SBG’s winning streak alive.
Also looking to keep the SBG winning ways flowing was Gunnar Nelson who featured in the evening’s main event against Rick Story.
Nelson looked extremely calm on the way to the Octagon. In fact, it looked like he was just waiting for a bus rather than going for a fight.
It was Rick Story though that caught the eye. A new gym and a new mindset was evident as Story managed to stuff Nelson’s takedown attempts with ease. Crisp boxing caught Nelson one too many times and the Icelandic fighter didn’t look to have a Plan B for Story’s movement and free flowing boxing combos.
Interestingly, after round 4 John Kavanagh (SBG coach) felt that the fight was going Nelson’s way despite the fact that many pundits had him losing all but one round.
The fifth and final round saw no change as Story dominated largely from pillar to post as he claimed the split decision victory over a previously unbeaten fighter.
A classy post fight interview with Gunnar Nelson assured us that he would work harder and better to rectify his loss. We hope so too Gunnar.
Also fighting under the SBG banner over the weekend was Dubliner Paddy Holohan who took on late replacement Chris Kelades over in Halifax, Canada.
I said in my fight night preview for Pundit Arena that an unknown fighter is a dangerous fighter and that’s just how this played out.
Holohan looked to have the early advantage over Kelades but fueled by the home town crowd Kelades recovered and landed flush on Holohan a lot in the second round. Smelling blood, Kelades continued to land and it could be argued that if the round was 5 seconds longer the fight would have been stopped.
A visibly wobbly Holohan (not an easy sentence to say) made his way back to the corner to prepare himself for the final round. The damage was unfortunately done as Holohan was taken down, held and Paddy couldn’t do anything to turn the tide.
A first defeat for the Dubliner was the second loss for SBG on the night but in true fashion, both Nelson and Holohan are eager to better themselves and train harder for future bouts.
In truth, the rest of the Canadian card was pretty uneventful and could easily be contender for the worst card of the year. The only saving grace was headliner Rory MacDonald beating Tarec Saffidine in round 3 of the 5 round contest with unanswered strikes.
MacDonald may come across as a quiet and nonchalant type of guy but the 25-year-old is a stone cold killer in the Octagon and he proved it once again on Saturday night.
The #2 ranked MacDonald caught Saffidine with an accurate left hook that dropped him to the canvas and landed 3 or 4 extra hard shots before referee Herb Dean called off the fight.
MacDonald wanted to make a statement for a title shot and boy did he do it.
Next week’s MMA action is quite sparse but please do check out my fight night preview this coming Friday for an extended preview of Bellator 128.
Shane Saunders, Pundit Arena.