Bellator 31 Recap and Analysis

Chris Lozano vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

This was for a spot in next season’s welterweight tournament and was a classic showdown between youth (Lozano) and experience (Yoshida). Early on experience seemed to be happily in control. Yoshida showed his mastery of cage control as he worked Lozano against the cage and on the ground. Had he been able to exert enough strength to keep him there he would have easily won the round and possibly scored a submission. Of course that wasn’t the case as Lozano got up and resorted to desperate smelling wild elbows which, wouldn’t you know it, worked. After that stunning blow he landed another shot to the face that really rocked Yoshida and landed them on the ground. There Lozano attacked the body and the announce team ruthlessly ripped on him for that and maybe they were right as Yoshida was able to power out of it and steal his back nearly scoring a rear naked choke from thin air. The round ended and very quickly Yoshida would come to rue the moment that he didn’t finish his opponent. Round 2 proved to be a real beat down in favor of Lozano who had won my approval by the time all was said and done. What I didn’t like was Yoshida’s suspect striking defense especially since he was, well, fighting a striker. Lozano landed some shots uncontested that left me perplexed. The round ended with some vicious ground and pound but Yoshida was able to survive long enough to wander back to his corner where his team would kindly call the match for him. In his defense he had a horrific mouse under his eye, it would have been more than enough to have me throw in the towel (and run, Forrest Griffin style, back to the locker room), but I’m pretty much the opposite of a pro fighter. Chris Lozano def. Yoshiyuki Yoshida via TKO (Round 2, 5:00)

Jessica Aguilar vs. Zoila Frausto (Semi-Finals of Women’s 115 Pound Tournament)

What has to be remembered about this fight more than anything is the bipolar scoring turned in by the judges as every one of them had it scored 30-27 and yet the result was a split decision in favor of Frausto (if nothing else she had the face of the loser afterwards). To me I saw rounds 1 and 2 in favor of her but gave round 3 to Aguilar and didn’t really see it as being up for debate. Jimmy Smith commented after round 1 that it was a tough round to schedule, I disagree but apparently he was right. Much was made of Frausto’s battle with the scale (missing weight on her first try) but I didn’t see her cut weight to be visibly problematic. Still, the point remains that with quality women’s MMA fighters being a rare breed dramatic weight cutting will continue to be a regular occurrence with women twisting their metabolism in knots just to be able to take the limited fights that are offered to them. In round 3 Aguilar gave Frausto a bloody nose and Wheelock discussed the theory that judges are seduced by the sight of blood. To me it actually makes a bit of sense and unless the gash is opened up in entirely accidental fashion (head-butt)  it probably represents some sort of offensive victory. It’s harder to punch somebody in the head and crack them open than it is to simply punch them in the head. Also, after the fight the ring announcer took his sweet time telling us who had one and Wheelock implied that it was because they were tabulating the totals. . .but as somebody who scores the fights as he goes along it takes me maybe .5 seconds after a fight is over to know who won on my card. Now that we know just how bizarre the totals were I can’t help but think that that had something to do with it. Zoila Frausto def. Jessica Aguilar via split decision (30-27, 30-27, 27-30)

Mugumi Fujii vs. Lisa Ward (Semi-Finals of Women’s 115 Pound Tournament)

In her pre fight interview Ward tells us that she hopes to win the Bellator title so that she can take a few years off and start a family. . .alright, I’m sure that’s exactly what they were hoping for. It’s a terribly tough draw for her as I had these two as the top 2 in the tournament but her they are in the semis. Would it be asking too much for Bellator to provide a bracket before the tournament starts? Probably because that would take a few ounces of power away from them. In any case Ward wasted no time in proving me wrong as she allowed Fujii to bully her to the mat and submit her with a lightning fast arm bar thus ending her hopes and dreams of having a family. For as much as I ragged on this tournament throughout this season I will gladly admit that they are now on the verge of giving us a finals that I actually care about in Fujii vs. Frausto. It’s David vs. Goliath, East vs. West and Charisma vs. Stoicism. Of course Fujii will win unless perhaps she doesn’t. Bravo to Bellator for forcing the issue upon me. Megumi Fujii def. Lisa Ward via submission (Round 1, 1:39)

Mark Holata vs. Shawn Jordan

An inconsequential prelim bout between two heavyweights we will most likely never see or hear from again who take part in a uncoordinated Rock Em Sock Em brawl wherein both went out there and swung wildly hoping that something would stick. For Holata it did early in the first round as he landed a punch right on Jordan’s chin that knocked him out so cold that his body folded in half and then he fell backwards in such a way that the back of his arm theatrically slammed against the mat before any other part of his body. If either of these guys had name value it would be up for knockout of the year but alas they do not.  Mark Holata def. Shawn Jordan via TKO (Round 1, 1:13)

Mike Chandler vs. Scott Stapp

If I were to give Bellator and their matchmaker(s) the benefit of the doubt I would just call this a throwaway showcase fight that saw Chandler walk right through Stapp in under two minutes. If I were a bit more cynical I would say that it was just a lopsided matchup that never should have been made. Chandler looked great but for all I know he was in there against Glass Joe. Mike Chandler def. Scott Stapp via TKO (Round 1, 1:57)

They then showed last week’s Brent Weedman/Jacob McClintock welterweight qualifier because they were just plum out of stuff to show. I would’ve gone with the Dave Herman/Michael Kita fight that also went less than a round but whatever.

Not to be totally egocentric but watching this event I couldn’t help but feel as though they were responding to directly to my call for more finishes in Bellator this season. If you count the rerun match they aired six fights, five were finished sans judges and of those four of them were in the first round. And beyond that the show was really something special. The ladies all showed up and set up the most anticipated female match of my life. There was a nauseating knockout and an opening fight that was competitive and exciting. Next week they are off for a recap show and then return the week after that when they will crown champs in the Heavyweight and Bantamweight divisions.

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