Week two of the Friday Night Wars was filled with several standout moments and storylines ranging from flying knee knockouts, Dominick Cruz catching Urijah Faber with his pants down on live TV and a fun main event that a lot of people probably didn’t see.
Here’s five things that stood out to me after watching Bellator 61 and the first hourly episode of this season’s The Ultimate Fighter.
James Vick’s flying knee knockout
In the first live in-season fight of the new TUF, Vick made a name for himself, coming from behind to knock out Daron Cruickshank cold on the wings of a flying knee. To that point, Cruickshank was having his way with Vick, holding him off with a variety of kicks. Cruickshank looked comfortable and got too cute, running in and getting caught flush on the chin with a knee that Vick said was supposed to be a kick.
Cruickshank fell flat and was out cold, givingteam the first win of the season. It felt demoralizing for gang, which we saw amplified later on. Now Cruickshank has to stay in the house for another three months (something Jon Anik awkwardly reminded him of) in the hope that he gets another shot.
The call out
Another change they made this season was the following week’s fight being made at the end of each episode. TUF ran over their hour, so if you DVR’d the show and missed the final segment with Cruz making the fight selection for next week, you have to find this clip.
As Vick won, Cruz had the right to pick and selected his top fighter Justin Lawrence to battle in week 2. He then looked at Faber and told him to pick his best guy. Faber looked bewildered and asked his team who wanted to fight. No one stood up, no one stepped forward and no one wanted any piece of Lawrence. It was an incredibly embarrassing moment for Faber who must be fuming about this today.
Eventually, Faber gave the selection back to Cruz (!!!) and Cruz selected Brazilian jiujitsu ace Cristiano Marcello, making for a really great week 2 fight.
Brian Rogers’ flying knee knockout
In Bellator’s show opener, Rogers fought Vitor Vianna in the middleweight tournament, a scrap between two talented guys that only the hardcores seem to know about. Vianna was last season’s tournament finalist while Rogers went into Friday with finishes in all eight of his wins.
Make it nine-for-nine as Rogers pulled off a slight upset with a first round flying knee knockout of Vianna to advance to the semifinals. Rogers was great in avoiding playing into Vianna’s strong ground game and was aggressive in taking it to Vianna on his feet. Vick’s knee may have been seen by more people, but Rogers deserves praise for making an impression to open the show.
Read the other two standout moments from Friday night after the jump.
The story of Michael Chiesa
I’m not a huge fan of reality TV, but it was hard to not feel for the Team Faber member during his torment over his father dying the first week he was in the house. It made for compelling TV, especially when he explained how his dad held on long enough to see him win on last Friday’s live show. I’m glad to see that Dana White let Chiesa go home for the funeral and didn’t pull any “If you leave, you’re off the show” shenanigans.
Unintentional or not, TUF now has a fighter that you want to root for. It makes for a great human interest story and hopefully, things turn out alright for someone that is going through a tough time.
Maiquel Falcao vs. Norman Paraisy
The de facto main event of Bellator, Falcao and Paraisy was a lot of fun to watch. As the fight moved into the second and third rounds, it became obvious that Falcao had his number but that didn’t stop both guys from jawing and gesturing at each other and throwing some additional shots after the bell. And of course, they hugged it out at the end.
Falcao is a favorite to win this season’s middleweight tourney for a reason and he showed some of that talent Friday night. There will be some chatter about him not finishing Paraisy in the second round when he seemingly had a wide window to do so, but he picked up the win and now awaits his next challenge.
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