Bellator: Dynamite 1 implies that we will have more Dynamite shows to look forward to down the line. Tonight’s inaugural edition is in the books, and after a huge entrance, the card started slowly but finished strongly with rather surprising finishes in the co-main and main events. Liam McGeary kept his unbeaten record intact by submitting Tito Ortiz with a great inverted triangle choke at the end of round 1. It’s the first time since the 20th century that Tito Ortiz had tapped to anything, so even at 40 years old and clearly past his best, it’s a big feather in McGeary’s cap. I definitely look forward to his fight with Phil Davis, who won the LHW tournament.
I’ve segmented the analysis thoughts into three categories, as to make things easier for the reader. Overall, I rate this card a 7/10 when taking into account fight quality, production values, quality, and the big announcement that was made on the broadcast.
Bellator: Dynamite production quality
- Fedor is back. The actual process of the whole “landscape changing” announcement unveiling was kinda clumsy, but we know where Fedor Emelianenko is headed. He’ll be headlining a NYE show in Japan (on tape delay in the US) on Spike TV, but it won’t be for Bellator MMA. The consensus greatest heavyweight ever reunited with former PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, who is back in the MMA business and starting a new global MMA promotion. It’s a two-fight exclusive deal (per Ariel Helwani), and no opponent or further details are known beyond that, but no doubt Spike TV is thrilled to have Fedor on board for what will be billed as a mega-event in Tokyo. (BE NIGHT CREW ASSEMBLE?!)
- Was the whole thing cheesy? Maybe. But Bellator’s big events under Scott Coker have felt like big shows. The in-arena fireworks, the voice of Lenne Hardt, the grand entrances with the ramps towards the cage, it all felt like a bigger show than it probably was. If you are a PRIDE mark, then this was a nice moment of nostalgia for you, although I thought Lenne Hardt (somehow) overdid it with her intros.
- The pacing wasn’t that good and we ended up with great moments of television like Jimmy Smith interviewing that woman from The Biggest Loser, who has a brand new awful show on Spike. It felt like they sped up the process in the final hour of the show, and maybe the finishes helped a bit with my perception of the broadcast.
- For someone who hasn’t been immersed in the sport as others have, Sean Grande has come into his own as the new voice of Bellator MMA. Ranallo, Quadros, and Smith were all their usual fine selves on Bellator/Glory, but Grande is doing quite well in his new gig. He won’t ever be Sean Wheelock, but he’s a steady hand right now and I believe he’ll continue to get better.
- Historically, Bellator hasn’t really ever attempted to mention the UFC even in passing. Tonight? They went full throttle with UFC mentions. All of the commentators talked about something related to the UFC, whether it was Phil Davis stopping Glover Teixeira’s UFC title shot, Gilbert Melendez’s suspension for steroids, spotlighting UFC fighters in attendance like B.J. Penn, or just plain highlighting the successes and failures of former UFC fighters who competed on tonight’s show. It was refreshing. The UFC never mentions other competitors unless they’ve already absorbed them and they’re talked about in the past tense, so it was a surprise to me to see Bellator willingly go all-out with UFC talk.
- The host of the show, whose name I can’t remember but definitely begins with Jordan, did a good job with her interviews and emceeing the whole program, and I wouldn’t be against her hosting Bellator shows on a more frequent basis.
- All in all, Dynamite concept is good in theory, but wasn’t executed as well as it could have been as far as fight bookings, TV pacing, and length of broadcast. I’m sure Scott Coker will tweak some things for when they do their 2nd Dynamite show … whenever it happens.
Bellator MMA fights
- How can you not love Liam McGeary? He’s a man of few words (just check out our interview with him), but he’s a damn good fighter, and submitting even a faded Tito Ortiz is no joke. He’ll have to work really hard on his takedown defense because Phil Davis is a terrific wrestler AND a great grappler who is far and away better than anyone he’s faced before.
- Ortiz’s frustration was very evident when he tapped out, as he’d just escaped the armbar seconds before Liam slapped on the inverted triangle. That was probably his last chance at any major MMA belt, and he managed the longest non-retirement interview speech I’ve ever heard, so maybe that means he’s not going to retire.
- Phil Davis looked damn good tonight. He dominated Emanuel Newton and submitted him with a nasty kimura, then crushed last-minute replacement Francis Carmont with a great leaping left hook. We’ve never really seen Davis throw that kind of heat on the feet, so just the fact that he got two impressive finishes in his Bellator debut makes him a big winner tonight.
- For a fleeting moment, Tim Burke’s asinine prediction of Francis Carmont winning the Bellator tournament had a real shot of coming true. Thank you to Mr. Wonderful for preventing Tim from being able to gloat to the staff about awesome he is at predictions. He sucks at them.
- Rough break for Muhammed Lawal to suffer a rib injury in his fight with Linton Vassell, which forced him to withdraw from the final. His striking looked sharp against Vassell, but he couldn’t finish the tough Englishman, whose ability to not get KO’d was impressive but not to the point where the CSAC officials could medically clear him. Maybe time for Tito vs. King Mo?
- Josh Thomson’s win over Mike Bronzoulis wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was effective, dominant, and he got his first submission finish in 5 years with a great arm-triangle choke. He thanked his hometown fans and noted that this could be the last time he fights in San Jose. If the end is near for Thomson then at least give him one more title run.
- For whatever reason, the canvas was ultra slippery and several guys on the main card and prelims were falling and tripping like crazy. I don’t know if there was a mix-up and arena officials thought this was a showcase of Bellator MMA and the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
- I enjoyed the main event rematch between Saulo Cavalari and Zack Mwekassa, and while I thought Mwekassa deserved the nod, I’m not educated enough in the field of kickboxing to scream “robbery”, so you’ll have to excuse me there. Perhaps Cavalari’s heavy kicking game weighed more in the eyes of the judges than Mwekassa’s body work and punches.
- GLORY’s ring announcer for the main event messed up his cue so many times. ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! It’s almost as if he was doing “Hey Ya” by Outkast.
- Definitely can’t remember Cavalari getting warned for holding before the referee abruptly docked a point. Between that and the high kick knockdown-ruled-slip, it made things closer and it ended up as a majority decision instead of unanimous.
- Paul Daley isn’t consistently exciting anymore. There I said it. He’s exciting in bursts, but not enough to sustain over the course of a fight that lasts longer than a round, including in kickboxing. Fernando Gonzalez had virtually no kickboxing experience and even though Daley got the win, it wasn’t a dominant performance. “Semtex” had a solid kicking game but never really let his hands go. To me, it was underwhelming.
- We didn’t need to see Hadley Griffith get routed by Keri Melendez other than the name value of the latter being the wife of
GiblertGilbert Melendez. This was a squash match and it played out as such. I guess Griffith gets marks for not getting knocked down.
- This happened on the prelims.
Jose Palacios ring entrance fail pic.twitter.com/8rZ5btVNug
— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 19, 2015
About the author