By Jaime C. Feal
It was another outstanding evening of fights and entertainment put on by Bellator Fighting Championships Friday night. The USF Sun Dome in Tampa, FL hosted Bellator 72 and fans were treated to an MMA experience like no other. Bellator makes sure the fans are constantly entertained. The intermissions between fights and rounds are full of rich highlights, excellent music, fan giveaways, and more. As for the fights themselves, they were tremendous. Beginning the main card was the finale of a trilogy between Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf. This back and forth brawl saw Zaromskis stalk Spiritwolf with forward pressure. Spiritwolf was countering and moving well but ultimately couldn’t do enough to sway the judges and dropped a split decision to Zaromskis.
One of the best features of Bellator is their tournament structure. Bellator’s motto is “Where title shots are earned, not given.” This translates into a fighter having to win a tournament in order to earn a title shot. The Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament semifinals continued Friday night, and the first matchup pitted ATT’s Attila Vegh against Emanuel Newton. Vegh was very poised and solid in his game plan. Newton attempted many spinning back kicks, not many of which landed, and was made to look sloppy by Vegh. Newton’s corner was screaming for him to push the pace, but he continued to look for extravagant kicks and it ultimately cost him a split decision loss. American Top Team’s Atitila Vegh moves into the final of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament.
In the second semifinal, Travis Wiuff took on Jiu-Jitsu fighter Tim Carpenter. Wiuff is one of the scariest physical specimens you’ll see in the 205 division, and he sports an incredible professional record of 68-14. That’s over 80 professional fights and he’s 34 years old. Carpenter is much less experienced and physically developed, and it showed as he got taken down and brutalized by Wiuff. While Carpenter tried for a couple armbars and triangle chokes, this match was really all Travis “Diesel” Wiuff. He repeatedly took Carpenter down and landed hard hammer fists inside Carpenter’s guard. At the end of the fight all three judges agreed and gave him the unanimous 30-27 decision victory. Wiuff called out current Bellator Light Heavyweight Champ Christina M’Pumbu after the fight. Interestingly enough, Wiuff has already defeated Mbumbo in Bellator, and is now just one win away from facing him for the belt. Atilla Vegh stands in Travis Wiuff’s way, and they will meet to determine the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament winner and who earns the next title shot.
Former UFC star Paul “Semtex” Daley made his Bellator debut next in a non-tournament welterweight bout. The co-main event saw Semtex destroy his opponent Rudy Bears in the first round. After a brief feeling out process Daley caught Bears in the Thai clinch and started unloading with knees. When Bears dropped, Semtex ripped him with a left hook and Bears collapsed. Daley followed up with a hammerfist and a hard left hand while Bears was turtled up, clearly done, and referee Troy Waugh rushed in to correctly stop the fight. Beautiful finish and stoppage for Paul “Semtex” Daley in his Bellator debut. In the post-fight interview, Daley thanked Bellator and the fans, and said he wants in the next welterweight tournament so he can earn a shot at the belt. This is what makes Bellator truly unique: whereas other promotions would simply give a big-name signing such as Daley a title shot, Bellator will make him earn it by going through an 8-man tournament.
The main event was the final of the welterweight tournament and it featured Bryan “The Beast” Baker against Karl “Psycho” Amoussou. What was expected to be a war by many pundits turned out to be a surprisingly quick affair. After the fight was briefly stopped for an eye poke, Baker and Amossou got in a scramble off an attempted takedown. Amossou rolled into a kneebar type position and immediately cinched in an inverted heel hook which had Baker tapping out just 56 seconds into the first round. The shocking, spectacular submission earned Karl Amossou a title shot against Bellator Welterweight champ Ben Askren later this year. For all information on scheduling, fighters, TV show times and channels, visit www.Bellator.com