Friday night gave Bellator MMA and opportunity to kick off its featherweight tournament with Bellator 99. The card didn't feature many top names that would draw the attention of mixed martial arts media outlets, let alone mainstream coverage, but that didn't stop the athletes from giving the fight community a solid helping of action to start off this packed weekend.
The main event of the evening featured an opening round contest to the featherweight tournament. Recent castoff from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Diego Nunes, would make his promotional debut against the man that came within two split decisions of being Bellator featherweight champion, Patricio Freire. This captivating style match up closed out the card in stunning fashion.
“Pitbull” needed less that two minutes in order to put away the highly touted Nunes. The Brazilians exchanged strikes early in the bout as Freire looked patient from the very beginning. The end would come when he would catch Nunes coming in with a counter left hand that dropped the former Nova Uniao competior and left him prone on the mat. Patricio lunged in to drop a few extra shots but they weren't needed as John McCarthy called this bout off.
With that win, “Pitbull” moved into the final four of the tournament and looks to get his revenge against current champion Pat Curran.
Justin Wilcox found a way to come from behind to also move into the second round of the featherweight tournament with his upset win over Akop Stepanyan.
Stepanyan was punishing the former Strikeforce fighter with strikes for all of the fight up until the finish. Wilcox's leg had begun to change colors from leg kicks and he also caught a spinning head kick that split him wide open.
During a scramble in the second round, “The Silverback” would find a way to latch onto Akop's back and sink end the fight ending rear naked choke. Akop refused to tap out and was rendered unconcious at the 2:20 minute mark in the round.
Fabricio de Assis Casta da Silva displayed active striking and take down defense to defeat Desmond Green in another opening round fight.
Da Silva looked very relaxed from the onset of the contest as he shrugged off Green's take downs in round one while landing plenty of strikes and hitting a throw of his own. Green would try to steal the round with a last minute take down but with only seconds left he was unable to advance or do any damage.
The second and third rounds were much of the same. Although Green had a fleeting time in control during the third, he was unable to do any type of damage that would warrant giving him the fight. All three judges saw the unanimous decision victory for Fabricio which moved him into the featherweight final four.
In the opening bout of the televised card, Joe Taimanglo would be the first fighter to gain a win in the featherweight tourney as he defeated Andrew Fisher via unaimous decision.
Even through Fisher was the much longer fighter, he looked apprehensive to use his range while allowed Joe to bull in and pepper him with shots. By the end of the bout Fisher had a very bloody nose while Taimanglo didn't even look winded.
The second round of the featherweight does feature some interesting fights that will be worth a watch when presented to the fight community. Bellator 99 may not end with outstanding ratings but it was still a good show to catch for those who spent Friday evening in the house.