This past weekend featured two very intriguing cards that gave the most die-hard of MMA fans reason the cheer in celebration. With Friday night’s Strikeforce Challengers card preceding Saturday night’s stacked Bellator 39 card, fight fans were treated to a number of excellent performances from fighters still trying to attain widespread public adulation.
• Strikeforce Lightweight Division. Outside of Gilbert Melendez who is a certifiable beast in the cage, the Strikeforce lightweight division lacks the depth and pizzazz of the UFC’s or even Bellator’s. However, that perception may soon change with the emergence of Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox as a viable threat to the division. While Wilcox may need a tad more experience in the cage before he is ready to challenge for the Strikeforce title, there is no doubt that he continues to evolve and look more and more impressive in each of his outings. His domination of Rodrigo Damm Friday night perfectly illustrates Wilcox’s trademark tenacity.
• The Douglas Twins. The amount of press surrounding David and Damion Douglas was incredible and their hard-knock childhood is a great story of redemption, but Friday night neither brother exhibited the promise that has many watching their ascent up the Strikeforce ladder. Damion kicked things off with a very lackluster and very debatable majority decision over Wayne Phillips. But I won’t come down too harshly on Douglas as his “ring rust” was a contributing factor in early fatigue and yet he was still able to hand in there with Phillips. Unfortunately, Damion’s brother David faired much worse as he was stopped in dominate fashion by Caros Fodor. Both Douglas brothers are talented and have an excellent team behind them, but it is clear that they still have a long way to go.
• Terry the Striker. James Terry is a pupil of Cung Le and it was clear in his fight with Josh Thornburg that he has been picking up a thing or two in the gym. Thornburg is no slouch but the way Terry dominated the fight in route to a first round TKO was simply awesome. Terry is a fighter that many people will watch intently based on the potential fireworks he brings.
• Eddie Alvarez is a Beast. I still contend that Bellator’s Eddie Alvarez is one of the best lightweights in the sport. Period. While there were some who thought he may have lost some of his luster following his tough outing against Pat Curran Saturday night, the fact remains that Curran is a hella-tough fighter who would give nearly any fighter a hellish outing. The fact that Alvarez was able to rise to the challenge to get the decision win is a testament to his resolve. Alvarez is a transcendent fighter and may be just the tool to take Bellator to even higher public perception.
• Hawn Better than Good. I thought Lyman Good was game throughout his welterweight tournament semi-final bout against Rick Hawn, but in the end the judges favored Hawn. Good is a great fighter, but he just came up short against the fast-rising Hawn.
• “Pitbull’s” Highlight. Holy sh*t! That was the actual phrase uttered from my mouth upon witnessing one of the most devastating flying knees I have ever seen. When Patricky “Pitbull” Freire landed a flying knee to the head of Toby Imada, scrambling Imada’s senses, he solidified his claim as the favorite to win this season’s Bellator lightweight tournament. It was a great highlight reel moment in a Bellator season that has been filled with such items. Hopefully, this will reap dividends now that Bellator viewership is up with its new home at MTV2.
Photo © Bellator.com