Bellator 26 had a good diverse mix of weight classes in the tournament bracket of season three, as well as an above average fight to deliver a qualifier for season four. The first bantamweight (135 pounds) tournament bout was contested here, and it was a rather spirited decision. As a rubber match for the two, Danny Tims met Jose Vega for the third time in their careers, although the first time since either has reached their current level of success. Tims came out strong, winning the first round with a terrific flurry seconds into the opening frame, nearly finishing Vega. Vega recovered though, and was able to win the subsequent rounds with a nice mix of ground and pound and takedown defense, as well as being the sharper of the two standing. I agreed with two of the judges, scoring it 29-28 in favor of Jose Vega. I don’t know how the third judge scored the bout 30-27, as at no point was Vega closer to finishing the fight than Tims was in the first.
The last quarter final in the Heavyweight tournament also took place, pitting 230 pound Ukrainian Judoka Alexy Oleinik against 240 pound American boxing specialist Mike “300″ Hayes. Oleinik was able to use a classical loopy agressive punching style to set up an early pull down into guard. From there he used tremendous wrist and posture control to set up numerous triangle-armbar attempts, and was able to briefly straighten the arm of Hayes on several occasions. It was easy for me to score at 10-9 for the Ukrainian. The second round saw the first set up for Oleinik’s favorite submission, the no-gi Ezekiel choke. Looping one arm behind the neck, placing his other forearm in front of the neck and the squeezing his arms in a rear-naked choke grip he was able to apply great pressure to the throat of Hayes, though unable to coax a tap. Oleinik has at least five wins on his record from this submission. Alexey tried this submission from several positions in the second and third rounds, including mount, closed guard (bottom), half-guard (top) and even from a standing clinch. When the fight reached the ground, as it did in all three rounds, Alexey was able to set up triangles again with good wrist control, and was able to threaten multiple times from the top with the aforementioned Ezekiel choke. A hideous cut on the eye of Hayes probably cemented it in the judges eyes, and it was a split decision for Oleinik (29-28 all around).
The womens bout featuring Lisa Ward and Aisling Daley, it was a surprisingly one sided affair. Daley, a natural 125 pounder seemed to have a huge size advatage over the natural 105 pounder Ward, but Ward was able to consistently get into a position where that didn’t matter: on top. Using different variations of the leg reaps of Judo she was able to dominate Daley positionally on her way to an easy unanimous decision.
In non-tournament action season two semi-finalist Steve Carl successfully put Tyler Stinson to sleep with a guillotine choke in just 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
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