Bellator 88 came to the Gwinnett Arena in Atlanta last night to showcase some great fighters from all over the world including Brazil, Russia and the United States. The main event was the Bellator Middleweight World Championship and there were some explosive fights as Bellator's best featherweights fought the quarterfinals of the Bellator World Championship tournament. It was a great fight card but for many of the local fans it was the undercard that was the best part of the night.
Looking like an All-Stars evening of Georgia and southeastern MMA, fighters representing some of the best Atlanta and southeastern gyms matched up against each other in some great fights.
In a rematch of an explosive fight they had at Bangkok Fight Night, George Hickman sought to avenge a lightning fast knock-out inflicted upon him by Stephen Upchurch of KnuckleUp. Hickman did exactly that. In the first round he locked in a rear naked choke and the fight was over. The local MMA promoters will be fighting over who gets the deciding bout between these two great fighters.
In the next bout Clay Harvison and Ururahy Rodrigues fought three evenly matched rounds before Harvison landed a devastating knee to win by TKO in the third round.
Wild Bills Fight Night favorite, Ronnie "Bam Bam" Rogers took on Shane Crenshaw in the third fight of the evening. Rogers controlled the center of the ring and pursued Crenshaw for much of the fight but Crenshaw was effective in counter attacking. At the end of a very strategic fight the result proved to be close. All three judges called it for Rogers in a unanimous decision
The final local match up pitched two of the most intense fighters in the southeast USA. Jerrid Burke is an instructor at HardCore Gym in Athens while Joe Elmore fights out of X3 Sports in Marietta. Both these fighters came with great reputations and neither disappointed. After the first round, Bellator's commentators had Burke ahead based upon his greater strike rate. In the second round Elmore caught Burke with a left hook, followed up with a flurry of strikes as Burke went down and referee Will Fisher pulled him off to finish the contest as Elmore won by knockout.
Bellator 88 came to Atlanta to award its Middleweight Word Championship in its main event but the four fights on the undercard were just as entertaining. The undercard was broadcast to a nationwide audience and should provide regional and national promoters with enough evidence that the southeastern United States, and Atlanta in particular, is home to some great fighters. Hopefully this event will prove to be the next stepping stone for all of them.