Bellator MMA has concluded its third event in New Mexico for 2013 and it was an up and down evening of knockouts, submissions and decisions. It has been the case for the three events to have some solid action and very notable discussion points when all the bouts have finished and the dust has cleared. While the card lacked the star power of the fights in February and July, the card was picked up by the excitement of the talented athletes who did take part in the fight card.
Without any more hesitation let’s get into the key points from Bellator 105.
- The highlight of the night in my opinion is Tiger Sarnavskiy. He is now 25-1 and his lone loss against Rich Clementi was a split decision that arguably could belong to Tiger making him 26-0. He has dynamite in his hands and a very active ground game. He stunned Ricardo Tirloni with a well-timed and placed spinning back fist and then finished the fight off seconds later with a triangle choke. He wins on the feet and off of his back and that is what you call dangerous.
- While Tiger stole the show on the Spike TV broadcast, arguably the most shocking moment came in the evening’s first fight. Lutrell’s MMA standout Steve Garcia came into the Bellator cage for just his second professional bout (first Sherdog acknowledged bout) to face off with MMA Blue Chip Prospect Shawn Bunch. While Bunch would dominate with takedowns for ten minutes, the third round was all Garcia which ended when Garcia forced the referee to step in to save an exhausted Bunch from more punishment.
- Garcia was visibly outwrestled but he followed the blueprint Russell Wilson laid out in July against Bunch in that if he could take him to deep waters he could start mounting his attack. Garcia’s striking lacked the pop in rounds one and two but it became suffocating in the third. My colleague Jorge Hernandez pointed out that it very well could be due to elevation as both times Bunch has fought in New Mexico, he has tired late in the fight. It was a big time win for Garcia who beat a big name so early on in his promising career.
- The evening’s main event was easily the best all-around fight; Will Brooks and Saad Awad had the Santa Ana Star Center crowd roaring. Brooks showed why improvement is so important in the progressively evolving sport of MMA. Awad was hunting the knockout blow and Brooks was diligent and patient and demonstrated his masterful wrestling skills and superior grappling chops. Let me tell you fight fans something, Will Brooks versus Tiger Sarnavskiy is going to be dynamite.
- Angelo Sanchez moved his fight camp to Albuquerque where he worked with Ray Yee and Lenny Lovato on his striking and wrestling skills. It showed. In the first round, Angelo landed more than a dozen outside leg kicks and a health dosage of jabs and hooks. His boxing and leg kicks really slowed down the very quick Des Green.
- Fate wouldn’t be on the side of Sanchez however, Green landed a beautiful standing elbow-straight punch combo (with the same arm) that opened up a nasty gash on the forehead of Sanchez. The referee would call for the ringside physician to come and check out the cut. The fight was halted as the cut could not be contained and according to the physician who spoke to us ringside, the skull was visibly exposed. That means it was a very smart decision to stop the bout though the crowd didn’t approve.
- FIT NHB’s Frank Baca remains one of New Mexico’s most talented fighters but in his two Bellator bouts this year he has shown that his striking is dangerous but his grappling is less than polished. Anthony Leone and last night’s opponent Luis Alberto Nogueira wanted nothing to do with the stand-up game and worked their ground skills where Baca was unable to battle off of his back.
- Baca is at a bit of a crossroads now; he is still very young but he finds himself on a two-fight losing streak. This is a time where fighters often make drastic decisions whether it be gym changes, training changes or even a revamping of the fight mentality. We have seen it before including fellow Bellator 105 competitor Angelo Sanchez who closed his own gym and moved cities and gyms. I definitely am not implying that his camp isn’t solid, but just that it could be time for one of those drastic steps to get off that plateau and get back on the progressive path of improving areas of weakness.
- Rocky Ramirez lost his bout to Eddie Larrea in a gruesome manner. Larrea locked in a heel-hook and the pop of the knee was audibly heard at the media table 10-15 feet from the action. It was a nasty submission, one that often does damage to the knee if a fighter tries to tough it out to defend. Ramirez later posted on Facebook a long message that implied his retirement. If that is so, we here in New Mexico will have loads of memories of his storied regional career.
- On behalf of the SWFight team, we wish Rocky the best in his coaching career in any sort of recovery he’ll need on his knee.
- Mighty Mo is a professional boxer, storied kickboxer (with a win over Kickboxing legend Remy Bonjasky) and now a successful MMA fighter. He picked up his first ever submission victory over Ron Sparks after a sprawl and pass to side control. That was quite a moment nobody was expecting.
- Coaches Lenny Lovato Sr. and Ray Yee expressed issue with the stoppage of Josh Lanier. The truth is that the rules clearly state that when a fighter is not improving his position then the bout will become susceptible to being stopped. Lanier was mounted and he had very little ability to get Volkan Oezdemir off of him. While he wasn’t eating big shots, he was clearly in danger of absorbing further damage if they bout was continued. It could be argued that it was early but the referee was just doing his job and that is always based upon fighter safety.
- In the final bout of the evening, someone finally figured out how to stifle the grueling pace of Adrian Cruz. While Cruz remains a talented prospect here in New Mexico, opponent Jesse Brock showed the area where Cruz needs to go back and improve on. In this sport, wrestlers are in the majority and if you can’t fight and defend from your back, you’ll find yourself in bad positions.
- There is still plenty to take away from the fight for Cruz however, he showed tremendous heart and resiliency as he was in deep submissions and bad positions. He constantly fought throughout in scenarios where many before him have given in. A first loss always gives opportunity for fighters to return better than ever. This won’t be the end of the road for Adrian Cruz.
That wraps up another Bellator MMA event. We appreciate the support we received from our fight fans and we encourage you to stay tuned for more local MMA coverage.