Join us tonight on Bloody Elbow for a live stream, results, discussion and play-by-play for Bellator 99: Pitbull vs. Nunes. The featured card will roll out the entire opening brackets for this season’s Featherweight Tournament with some exciting new entries.
Former UFC featherweight contender and Bellator debutante Diego Nunes meets the scrappy Patricio Freire in the headliner while former Strikeforce lightweight Justin Wilcox will make his promotional and featherweight debut against Akop Stepanyan. More recognizable UFC’ers get main-card space as Vladimir Matyushenko meets Houston Alexander in a light heavyweight feature fight, while undefeated Blagoi Ivanov — best recognized as the man who defeated Fedor Emelianenko in Combat Sambo — returns to the promotion after a nearly two-year hiatus.
Bellator 99 main card play by play and full event lineup follows.
Diego Nunes vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire — Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal
R1: Pitbull draws first blood, metaphorically, with a low kick. Nunes loses his balance after a wild roundhouse kick to the body and Pitbull almost pounces but holds back. Nunes starts the motion of a front switch kick but forgets the kick part and virtually jogs straight into a thunderous left hook from Pitbull. And that’s that.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defeats Diego Nunes by KO (left hook), Round 1
Desmond Green vs. Fabricio Guerreiro — Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal
R1: Stomp kick to the knee from Guerreiro, then a front kick from range that lands to the body. Sharp counter-striking early from Guerreiro with his hands and feet. Green, a southpaw, shuffles right to center his straight left but isn’t really throwing it. Guerreiro slings a left hook over Green’s wandering right hand. Powerful one-two’s from Green that are mostly blocked but demonstrate his power. Guerreiro shoots a takedown that Green fends off but will keep him thinking.
Green lowers his head and unreels punches that Guerreiro parries. Guerreiro sidesteps Green’s lunging combo with a left hook. Green catches Guerreiro’s front kick but can’t convert it into a takedown. Hard body kick connects from Guerreiro, who’s taking over late. Green hits a single with ten seconds left and then secures the takedown with an ankle pick at the buzzer. 10-9 Guerreiro for the more effective striking.
R2: Guerreiro head-hunting with his right hand before thwarting another Green takedown. Guerreiro shoots and gets Green down, then spins to his back on his stand up. Guerreiro holds the rear waist lock and thumps knees to the back of Green’s thighs. Guerreiro manages to keep the position for the better part of a minute, then threatens to hop onto Green’s back but picks his leg on the scramble again. Green battles his way back up and breaks the waist lock to restart in open space.
Guerreiro’s high kick is blocked. They clash heads as Green changes levels and Guerreiro stays upright with an underhook. Guerreiro keeps the pressure on by flinging jabs with the occasional right cross mixed in. A straight kick looks to land clean on the stomach/upper hip but Herb Dean intervenes for the potential low blow. Green scoops up a single leg and sweeps out the support leg as the round ends. 10-9 Guerreiro for the rear waist cinch sequence and cleaner striking.
R3: A busy salvo of kicks from Guerreiro to open the round. Now it’s Green who sneaks behind for the standing rear waist lock, also repeating the knees to Guerreiro’s thighs. The position resumes for some time until
Guerreiro rolls into a kneebar and transitions to a triangle from his guard, all of which peel Green off. Back in the center,
Guerreiro shucks another takedown and slices in right hands. Green lands a nice, simple straight left that would serve him well in greater numbers.
He shoots instead and Guerreiro easily evades it, then nearly puts Green on his back with a double leg. Another glancing straight left for Green, who ends the round with a body kick. 10-9 Green for a 29-28 Guerreiro vote on my score card.
Fabricio Guerreiro defeats Desmond Green by unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
Houston Alexander vs. Vladimir Matyushenko — Light Heavyweight Feature Fight
R1: The vets start a bit tentative, both gunshy for the first minute. They unload huge right hands to break the silence that mutually connect with a simultaneous wallop. In an unexpected twist, Alexander takes the experienced wrestler down but Matyushenko holds onto a loose counter-single and develops enough leverage to convince Alexander to back out. They clinch and Matyushenko nails an outside trip and barrels into full mount. Just as quickly, Alexander bucks him off and scoots his hips free to stand back up.
Alexander charges with some lunging haymakers. Matyushenko steps in with a long right hand. Inside low kick from Alexander is half-checked. 10-9 Matyushenko though it was far from definitive.
R2: Alexander counters Matyushenko’s one-two with a digging uppercut. Matyushenko answers with a piercing combo of his own that lands harder and cleaner. Alexander tries to duck under Matyushenko’s lead left hook for a single leg but it’s easily shucked off this time. The 3-minute nucleus of this fight fizzles out with a very noticeable veil of inactivity and complacency on both sides that finally draws boos from the crowd at the 1:00 minute mark.
Matyushenko stays busy, relatively, with his jab while Houston seeks out powerful counter-shots. Matyushenko changes levels but Alexander matches it and effectively fends it off. I realize back-to-back 10-10 rounds is not ideal but my score is intended to be fair and accurate rather than convenient. 10-10 for equal nothingness. If you scored it 10-9, it was for something tiny and summarily ineffectual.
R3: Alexander comes out with a jab-cross and hook-cross, none of which land. Matyushenko finds the mark with a spearing jab, then with his follow up right in the next sequence. Double-leg takedown for Matyushenko, though Alexander is right back up. Alexander almost hits a counter-takedown but Matyushenko immediately reverses by controlling the ankle and almost gets back control.
He gets the cradle and hooks Alexander’s leg to nullify his movement, then chips in a few short left hands after establishing position. Matyushenko settles for a half back-ride and light left hands to close the round. It’s not much but at least it provides a clear winner. 10-9 Matyushenko for a 30-28 his way on my card.
Vladimir Matyushenko defeats Houston Alexander by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x 2)
Justin Wilcox vs. Akop Stepanyan — Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal
R1: They exchange hands and Wilcox misses with a semi-chambered high kick. Stepanyan unfurls a nasty low kick that sweeps Wilcox off his feet for a moment. Sharp body kick from Stepanyan. Another right roundhouse kick from Wilcox that whiffs and Stepanyan digs his shin deep into his lead leg. Wilcox, feeling the sting, bull-rushes Stepanyan but can’t get the desperation takedown.
He tries another and Stepanyan not only negates it but scores with some beautiful retreating counters.
Stepanyan comes high with the kick this time and Wilcox seems to at least partially block the heavy strike. Stepanyan’s low kicks are now steering the fight’s pace as Wilcox tries to time catching the leg that whizzes in to no avail. Spinning back kick from Stepanyan, and the ref steps in as if it was low but then restarts immediately. Stepanyan tenderizes Wilcox’s leg with a few more and goes to the gut with a left kick. That was borderline 10-8ish, mostly because Wilcox didn’t even establish the vague threat of offense. 10-9 Stepanyan.
R2: Stepanyan destroys Wilcox’s leg with a crushing low kick and the impact is monumental: Wilcox staggers and gingerly puts weight on the mangled leg, barely able to stand. A hematoma of cringe-worthy proportions appears on Wilcox’s leg; we’re talking “Kuato shin” here. Stepanyan smells blood and uncorks a spinning back kick that lands with a thud, but it’s unintentionally right to the back of Wilcox’s head. Wilcox paws at the back of his head and then almost collapses into a single leg that he’s able to complete by sheer willpower.
Wilcox, with blood flowing freely from the back of his head, valiantly starts to intensify his pressure from the top and snatches back control after Stepanyan explodes into an escape attempt, methodically finagling a rear-naked choke that he eventually — and amazingly — secures for the tap.
This was an authentically inspirational comeback by Wilcox, who, for his featherweight and Bellator debut, accepted this fight with a week’s notice and somehow whittled off 22-pounds to make the cut.
Justin Wilcox defeats Akop Stepanyan by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2
Joe Taimanglo vs. Andrew Fisher — Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal
R1: Taimanglo gives up a takedown, but stands back up and hits one of his own. Fisher follows suit but
Taimanglo hits his second attempt at a head and arm throw. Fisher is feisty again and they equalize on the feet, but an unintentional clash of heads causes a brief pause and warning to both competitors from referee Big John McCarthy. Fisher starts capitalizing on his almost laughable height/reach advantage with some crisp jabs from outside, some of which spark decent follow-up hooks and crosses.
Taimanglo pings a stiff right hand in open space, then counters Fisher’s clinch attempt with a few knees from the double collar tie. Taimanglo times a nice, heavy uppercut to close the frame. Close round — Fisher was more active but the blows Taimanglo landed were much more significant, albeit less frequent. 10-9 Taimanglo.
R2: Fisher tries to stay on the fringe and use his reach, but he’s curiously standing in Taimanglo’s wheelhouse and either blocking or eating heavy leather. Taimanglo repeats his strategy of going from underhooks to knees with strong head control to counter Fisher’s clinch attacks. Fisher being a bit more cautious and taking less punishment but his output suffers. Taimanglo has a spinning back fast blocked but starts sighting in a beefy uppercut and right cross.
Fisher slices in a few crisp jabs that land clean but the pace and power are all Taimanglo. 10-9 Taimanglo.
R3: One-two by both fighters but Taimanglo adds on another “two” that breaks through Fisher’s guard. Taimanglo, the significantly shorter man, is now establishing his range with a jab and back-pedaling hook, then changing direction with forward pressure and sharp combos. Fisher finally tags Taimanglo with a clean shot that draws a smile from both competitors. Taimanglo turns up the heat with a wild flurry and takedown attempt that Fisher’s able to side step.
Fisher’s jab finds the mark and his volume starts to increase, though less than two minutes remain. Fisher circles back and picks the right time to sit down on some flurries, and seems to be finding his rhythm in the waning moments. 10-9 Fisher for a 29-28 Taimanglo by my tally.
Joe Taimanglo defeats Andrew Fisher by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x 2)
Bellator 99 Main Card (Spike TV at 9:00 p.m. ET)
Featherweight Tournament Opening Round
Diego Nunes vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire
Justin Wilcox vs. Akop Stepanyan
Desmond Green vs. Fabricio Guerreiro
Joe Taimanglo vs. Andrew Fisher
Houston Alexander vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (LHW Feature)
Preliminary Card (streaming on Bloody Elbow at 7:00 p.m. ET)
Savio Kosic vs. Hector Ramirez
Derek Loffer vs. Mario Navarro
Andy Murad vs. Gavin Starritt
Musa Toliver vs. Goiti Yamauchi
Manny Lara vs. Blagoi Ivanov
Nick Moghaddan vs. Virgil Zwicker
About the author