After a submission victory over Mike Bronzoulis in his promotional debut at Bellator 142, Thomson continued to dominate inside the Bellator cage, taking home a second-round TKO victory over Pablo Villaseca and throwing his name onto the short list of contenders for Will Brooks' lightweight title in the process.
Thomson blitzed Villaseca from the get-go, notching a takedown and working to set up a triangle, then a straight armbar, then an omoplata in rapid succession early in Round 1. The submissions weren't particularly close, but damn did they look cool, and damn did they exemplify Thomson's supreme confidence and comfort on the mat. From there, Villaseca persevered, showing the grit and determination that earned him a 10-1 record and a main-event showcase against Thomson in the first place. He scrambled and pressed forward, desperately seeking a takedown of his own to no avail.
Another takedown from Thomson in Round 2 sealed the deal, as the former Strikeforce champion controlled Villaseca's posture and unleashed some brutal ground-and-pound that ended the bout. While Bellator officials did not confirm that Thomson would receive a title shot with the victory, he's certainly in the mix.
However, to hear Thomson tell it, a bout with Brooks might not be next for him – even if he did earn it. There's another name he feels he needs to fight first.
"Yo, man, I'm sorry, but everybody wants to see me fight [former Bellator lightweight champ Michael] Chandler," Thomson said in his post-fight interview. "I'm sorry, man, whether you're the champion or not, there's more of a call, the fans want to see me fight Chandler...Hey, I'll take Will Brooks too, but I'm telling you right now, the hype right now is around me and Chandler."
For his part, Brooks remained unfazed by Thomson's remarks.
In the night's co-main event, Daniel Weichel outclassed Georgi Karakhanyan with a polished and diverse striking attack. After three rounds of pinpoint shots and solid defense, Weichel took home a trio of 30-27 scorecards, setting himself up as a potential future contender for Daniel Straus' featherweight title. Weichel previously fought for 145-pound gold at Bellator 138, losing to then-champion Patricio Freire via second-round knockout.
While Weichel displayed some new wrinkles and showcased his worth as a top-level contender in Bellator's featherweight division, it's hard to ignore the disappointing performance from Karakhanyan. Unable to get the fight to the mat to work his sneaky submission game, Karakhanyan largely played the part of punching bag, getting picked apart and never finding his range against the elusive Weichel. While he tried on multiple occasions to force Weichel into a mistake by putting his hands out in true Diaz-brother fashion, the German fighter never took the bait, and he earned his 36th career victory as a result.
In a much-anticipated rematch, Derek Anderson (13-2, 1 no-contest) once again topped Patricky Freire (14-7), this time taking home a split-decision victory. For three back-and-forth rounds, Anderson controlled the pace on the feet with his precise volume striking, while Freire landed the more powerful blows, at one point staggering Anderson with a series of ferocious shots to the jaw.
Freire also enjoyed periodic moments of top control, making the judges' decision even more difficult. In the end, it's hard to complain about the decision either way – the fight was close, and the scorecards adequately conveyed that fact. Anderson is now 2-0 over Freire, previously winning via unanimous decision at Bellator 98.
Before Anderson and Freire took the spotlight, Adam Piccolotti put on a show against Mario Soto. After dominating the first round on the feet and on the ground, the undefeated Piccolotti continued the onslaught into Round 2, taking the fight to the mat and overwhelming Soto with a polished, aggressive top game.
Numerous guard passes and some punishing ground-and-pound followed, then Piccolotti found himself in back mount, where he secured the fight-ending rear-naked choke. The scene was gruesome, but the win was mint, moving Piccolotti to 7-0.
Prior to the finish, Rogers and Zwicker largely contested the bout on the feet, engaging in periodic flurries of fists and shins with neither man having a clear upper hand. Early in Round 2, though, Rogers connected with a solid low blow that sent Zwicker to the canvas and prompted a near-five-minute delay. After the break, the action resumed, and Rogers wasted no time taking the fight to the ground. From there, he dominated Zwicker, quickly transitioning to full mount before locking up the fight-ending choke.
With the win, Rogers snaps a two-fight losing streak and moves to 12-8 as a professional.