Image Source : lowkickmma.comPaul Daley, the long-time competitor and British striking specialist, was the heavy favorite heading into the contest, and it turns out the oddsmakers were correct. “Semtex” Daley simply never allowed Uhrich into the fight, stuffing a single takedown attempt with ease, and peppering the Memphis product with hard shots from the outside. After having some clear success with his strikes, Daley would use his feared power to bring the contest to an abrupt and definitive halt at just 2:00 of the very first round, tagging Uhrich with a perfectly timed right uppercut. Upon landing, it was clear that Uhrich was in a world of trouble, and the ref immediately waved the contest off. The promotion may not have gotten its wish of setting the Daley-Koscheck rematch up in dramatic fashion, but the sensational British striker certainly held up his end of the bargain and took a big step towards the rebooking of the contest.
Official Result: Paul Daley def. Andy Uhrich via Knockout (Punch), 2:00 Rd. 1
Image Source : bellator.mtvnimages.comThis was a completely different fight than when the men first met. The two heavy-handed wrestlers, in their first contest, inadvertently clashed heads and saw the bout ruled a no-contest. To that point, the younger but less experienced Honeycutt was one step ahead of Bradley at essentially every point of the fight. This confidence, in contrast with the outstanding adjustments of the UFC and TUF veteran Bradley, saw this fight end in less than one minute, albeit with a completely different result than most expected. It should be noted that Honeycutt was the second largest favorite on the card, behind Paul Daley, while Bradley was the second-largest underdog behind Andy Uhrich (and the largest underdog to cash). An overconfident Honeycutt looked to build on his success in the first fight and tag Bradley early, but the vet’s adjustments allowed him to land a solid strike of his own, and he simply pounced and pounced again, eventually overwhelming the previously undefeated prospect after several drops and square shots to the chin. After absorbing a final barrage of punches, Honeycutt was rightfully saved by the referee just 40 seconds into the fight. This contest did well to highlight the importance of veteran experience inside the cage, and although the incredibly talented Honeycutt was defeated, he will undoubtedly be back better than before in his next outing. This was just the victory that Paul Bradley needed to re-establish himself as a dangerous force in Bellator’s welterweight landscape.
Official Result: Paul Bradley def. Chris Honeycutt via Technical Knockout (Punches) 0:40, Rd. 1
Image Source : bellator.mtvnimages.comIf it wasn’t clear before, it most certainly should be now: Messing with either of the “Pitbull” brothers is a bad idea. Ryan Couture is a seasoned and talented fighter who had been on a tear prior to this contest, winning four straight by rear-naked choke. Early on into this bout, though, it was clear that he was outmatched. He simply didn’t seem to have an answer for the hard and thudding strikes of Pitbull, who landed frequently. Even before the fight-finishing blow, it was once again clear that Couture was in some serious trouble. He was striking with Pitbull and being lit up, having been stumbled not long before the finish. Then, as the persistent and tough competitor threw a relatively weak leg kick, Pitbull pounced on the opening and landed a shocking left hook, which completely put Couture out. The referee immediately jumped in to call a stop to the contest. Couture is once again a tough and talented athlete, but when competing against a decorated and powerful striker like Bellator-mainstay Pitbull, there is simply no room for error.
Official Result: Patricky “Pitbull” Freire def. Ryan Couture via Knockout (Punch), 3:00 Rd. 1
Image Source : bellator.mtvnimages.comTwo talented, but stylistically contrasting, heavyweights kicked the main card off in what was a relatively lackluster contest, complete with a questionable stoppage. Johnson is a decorated wrestler who trains at AKA with the likes of Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, and he doesn’t make it a secret that his preferred path to victory is through the takedown. Inversely, Butler is a knockout artist and standup specialist with an extensive boxing record. This fight was set to be an awesome showdown between two completely different fighters. But for a number of reasons, it wasn’t the most exciting contest in the world. Butler won the first round by largely fending the takedowns of his opponent off and landing solid shots on the feet and the ground (after a reversal). Through this clear-cut, but not dominating, stanza, it appeared as though Butler had a relatively large edge over his opponent. Then in the second, Johnson turned the tide, finding success of his own after about three minutes of heavy clinching, in the form of a takedown. Until the last thirty seconds or so of the round, Johnson would maintain top control and land some solid, but not fight-ending, shots to further make clear his dominance of the stanza. The third round opened with an early and successful takedown from Johnson, as he held his opponent up against the cage. From this position he landed some hard strikes and threatened to take the back, until the midway point of the round, when Butler returned to his feet. Ultimately, though, the elite wrestling of Johnson would prevail, and Butler found himself in the same position up against the cage. Johnson was landing solid, but not devastating, shots when the referee stepped in and waved the contest off. Butler wasn’t really defending himself, but nevertheless, wasn’t in danger, and this was accordingly a questionable stoppage. It wasn’t very exciting, and the mark of such a fight is an early stoppage that nobody complains about, but one of the promotion’s best heavyweights got the victory here.
Official Result: Tony Johnson def. Raphael Butler via TKO (Punches), 4:24 Rd. 3