Bellator 120 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
After the better part of a year angling to make it happen, Bellator finally hit the pay-per-view airwaves on Saturday night from Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi. It was the promotion's first crack at paid viewership after Bellator 106 slipped through the cracks in November, and it was a decent night of action from the second-best MMA promotion in North America.
This one almost slipped through the cracks too, though, saved by some last-minute reshuffling of the card. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal were elevated to the main event, and former headliner Michael Chandler landed a new opponent after Eddie Alvarez left him at the alter due to a concussion.
Plenty went down for Bjorn's Boys of the Bellator cage. Here are the grades for their night's work.
Michael Page spent more time dancing than he did striking in his second Bellator win, but when he struck, he made it count.
With the better part of five minutes showboating behind him, the Englishman landed a massive right hand to end his fight with Ricky Rainey, a surprisingly basic technique considering the amount of flying and spinning he'd done to that point.
It was a stellar showing for Page, who undoubtedly has some attention on him after opening the biggest event in company history in such exciting fashion. His dance moves won't be for everyone, but if he keeps knocking guys out like he did Rainey, it's safe to say no one will dislike them more than his opponents.
Rainey was, to put it mildly, outmatched in his bout with Page.
From the outset he looked baffled by his opponent's movement and flashiness, stalking after his prey clumsily only to be repeatedly tagged with outlandish punches and knees. He was hurt a couple of times in the bout, and it really only went on as long as it did because Page was in no hurry to finish.
An abysmal night in the cage for Rainey.
Alexander Volkov spent most of the first round getting pressed against the cage and smothered by Blagoi Ivanov. It was obvious that his opponent had no interest in the striking game, content to grind out a win in close quarters and keep the former champion away from the areas where he excels.
The second round started to look like it could be more of the same when Ivanov tried for a throw, only for Volkov to slip to his back and quickly sink in his hooks. He had a rear-naked choke positioned before his second hook was in, and by the time it was, the tap was academic.
Not a hallmark showing for Volkov, who wins the season's heavyweight tournament with the victory, but a pretty stellar finish.
It might not have been pretty, but Ivanov was effective in the early going against Volkov, wearing him down against the cage and scoring in tight with some short, hard punches.
Looking to do some work on the ground, where most would have given him an edge coming in, he made a slight tactical error in Round 2 and gave his back to Volkov. It didn't take long from there, as Ivanov juked the wrong way and only made things worse, succumbing to a rear-naked choke at 1:08 of the round.
A promising start, but a dreadful mental lapse and unfortunate end for the Bulgarian.
The fight started with Tito Ortiz looking slow and rusty, as a 39-year-old with two years off is wont to do. Truthfully, even when he took the fight to the ground against the much smaller Alexander Shlemenko, he didn't look great.
Then out of nowhere, Ortiz locked up an arm triangle and clamped down, and Shlemenko was out. Just like that, The Huntington Beach People's Champion Or Whatever He Calls Himself Now had his first MMA win since 2011.
Oh, and he did a Hulk Hogan impression when the fight was over too.
Shlemenko was dwarfed in his light heavyweight debut, easily giving up 25 pounds to Ortiz when they finally met in the Bellator cage. The end result was a struggle to get going, a struggle to find a rhythm and eventually a struggle to stay conscious.
The middleweight champion had nothing for his hulking opponent, landing little of consequence on the feet and being mauled (albeit at an agonizingly slow pace) on the ground. It was hard to envision the Russian losing to the aging Ortiz, but once it happened, the methodology made a lot of sense.
Definitely one "Storm" is going to want to forget.
No one gained more at Bellator 120 than Will Brooks, who came out of nowhere to give former lightweight champion Chandler all he could handle over the course of five rounds. The end result was an interim title around his waist and another surprise classic inside the Bellator cage.
In a back-and-forth war that did all it could to replace the scratched Chandler-Alvarez bout, the upstart American Top Team product fought like a dog. He repeatedly took Chandler's back, wasn't outdone on the feet and hardly took a backward step all night.
Though the fight ended with Chandler as the aggressor, Brooks had banked enough good will with the judges to earn a split decision for his efforts.
A great showing by a high-potential fighter.
Chandler struggled with Brooks, a late-notice opponent with some wrinkles in his style that were tough to adjust to on a quick turnaround. He spent much of the night with Brooks on his back wailing on him or trying to choke him, and even when the fight was upright and at a distance, he was unspectacular.
It's hard to know what to pin the loss on exactly, be it the new opponent, the lowered stakes of an interim title or the bump down to the co-main event slot. Then again, perhaps Brooks was just the better man on Saturday night and nothing else is needed to explain the outcome.
That's what the record will show, anyway.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal
King Mo came to Memphis with an obvious game plan in place, one that he was quite committed to over the course of the evening: wrestle Rampage Jackson, get him tired, avoid a brawl and go home with a win.
It didn't pan out that way, though, as his takedowns weren't enough to sway the judges after Jackson peppered him in the stand-up and left him wearing the damage at the end of the night.
It was nothing special as a main event, even with the bad blood being sold. Mo did little to alter that fact, and it's hard to know where he goes from here. Not that long ago he was an incredibly promising prospect. Now, he's lost two of his last three and hasn't shown much of note since his days in Strikeforce.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Say what one will about Jackson, his career won't go quietly into the night. After leaving the UFC with as little ceremony as any former champion ever has, he's now undefeated in Bellator and has earned himself a title shot.
That may not have the type of bombast that knocking out Chuck Liddell or Wanderlei Silva did, but it's not bad for a guy most have been claiming as finished since about 2012. The fact that he's still a semi-reliable event headliner is even something of an accomplishment at this point.
He did what he had to against King Mo, hurting him in the stand-up game and spending the least amount of time possible on the ground when he was put there. All in all, it was a decent win, though one that can surely do without the rematch Jackson was calling for in the cage when it ended.