Bellator 61: Falcao, Rogers, Santos, Vasilevsky Advance in Middleweight Tournament

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Maiquel Falcao, Brian Rogers, Bruno Santos and Vyacheslav Vasilevsky advanced to the semifinals of the Season 6 middleweight tournament with victories at Bellator 61 on Friday night.

In the main event, Falcao beat Norman Paraisy by unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three judges' scorecards. It was an easy win for Falcao, who clearly had Paraisy outclassed, but it was also a frustrating fight: At times Falcao showed flashes of the powerful striking that has been his hallmark, but too often after a flurry of punches he'd back off or start taunting Paraisy rather than going for the finish.

Still, there's no doubt that Falcao is talented, and after the quarterfinal round he appears to be the favorite to win the tournament.

Rogers had a brilliant first-round knockout victory over Vitor Vianna in the first televised fight. Rogers knew he had to avoid going to the ground with Vianna, a world-class Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner, and he was smart about keeping the fight standing and getting quickly back to his feet when it went to the ground. Rogers hurt Vianna with a combination and then sprang forward with a flying knee to the chin that knocked Vianna cold.

Santos earned a workmanlike unanimous decision over Giva Santana. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a fight in which Santos was careful to maintain the upper hand while never putting himself in danger of getting submitted by Santana on the ground. In the final seconds of the third round, Santana attempted to submit Santos with a knee bar, but Santos was able to ride it out and hold on to win the fight.

Vasilevsky turned Victor O'Donnell's face into a bloody mess on the way to a unanimous decision victory that all three judges scored 29-28. Vasilevsky landed vicious combinations of punches, battering O'Donnell both standing up and on the ground. The fight easily could have been stopped toward the end, as O'Donnell just had nothing left. Vasilevsky, fighting outside Eastern Europe for the first time, looked great.

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