The quarterfinals of Bellator's lightweight tournament kicked off last night at Bellator 62 and while there was good reason to watch the other fights, the main event between tournament favorite Patricky Freire and the scrappy albeit unheralded Lloyd Woodard stole the show.
In a back and forth, often wild brawl, both Freire and Woodard exchanged winging punches and took turns rocking one another into semi-consciousness. Freire badly hurt Woodard early, but the Montana-native returned the favor and then some in the second frame.
Less than methodical but effective striking alone doesn't define the fight's complexion nor its conclusion. Despite Freire's status as a respected Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, it was Woodard who used a potent mixture of aggressive striking and submission savvy to eventually earn the tap from Freire. It also appears he badly hurt and potentially dislocated the Brazilian's elbow in the process.
Freire entered last night's tournament as the prohibitive favorite after his strong showing in Bellator's previous season four lightweight tournament, losing only to Michael Chandler in the finals. Chandler would not only win the tournament, but also eventually take the lightweight title from then-champion Eddie Alvarez later in season five.
En route to his bout with Chandler, Freire buzzsawed Bellator standout Toby Imada and former WEC lightweight champion Rob McCullough in highlight reel fashion. He also finished the season strong by easily stopping UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino with strikes.
Woodard, by contrast, came into last night's bout having had only one victorious Bellator appearance against Carey Vanier. Like Freire, he also ultimately fell short against Chandler. He also spent nearly an entire year off the competitive circuit after receiving much-needed knee surgery.
The bout not only provided the most exciting action of the evening, it is also easily the best win of Woodard's surging career. He moves on to the semifinals where he'll face another winner from last night's tournament, former judo Olympian Rick Hawn
For those who missed the sensational bout or simply wish to see it again, watch the full fight below: