The fourth season of Bellator Fighting Championships started Thursday night on MTV2 with Brent Weedman
, Rick Hawn
, Jay Hieron
and Lyman Good
winning their fights and advancing to the semifinals of Bellator's welterweight tournament.
It was a good start to Season 4 for Bellator, and a solid if not spectacular fight card, although it wasn't without controversy, particularly in Hieron's victory, which came on a bad stoppage with a referee who made a major mistake.
Weedman's unanimous decision victory over Dan Hornbuckle
was a sensational bout, with back-and-forth ground action that had both guys in danger of being submitted multiple times. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Weedman, but it easily could have gone 29-28 for Hornbuckle, and many of the fans in Lemoore, California, booed the judges' verdict. Weedman was classy, saying, "Dan's the toughest opponent I've ever faced in over 30 fights." Weedman had what appeared to be a significant cut on his left eyelid, which will bear watching as he needs to return for the semifinals in less than two months.
Hawn's unanimous decision victory over Jim Wallhead
wasn't nearly as exciting: Although both men come from judo backgrounds, they turned it into a sloppy kickboxing competition. Hawn won 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 on the three judges' scorecards, and although he clearly deserved to win, he didn't do a lot to suggest that he's a threat to win this tournament.
Hieron won a bizarre first-round technical submission over Anthony Lapsley
when referee Josh Rosenthal wrongly stopped the fight, mistakenly thinking that Hieron had choked Lapsley out when in reality, Lapsley was just fine. It was a big mistake by Rosenthal and a bad stoppage, and it will overshadow the fact that Hieron had completely dominated the fight up to that point.
Good, who won the welterweight tournament in Bellator's first season, took a step toward winning another tournament with a fairly one-sided unanimous decision victory over Chris Lozano
. Although Lozano was a game opponent who never quit, Good battered him and badly bruised his left eye, and it was clear that Good was the better fighter in the cage.
Although this fight card will be largely overshadowed by the Strikeforce card also taking place Saturday night, Bellator got its 2011 off to a good start. The promotion now has 11 more Saturday night fight cards over the next three months to prove it can draw an audience for MMA on MTV2.