The headliner of tonight’s Bellator 121 event, which kicked off the organization’s 2014 “Summer Series” schedule, proved a rather quick and one-sided affair.
The bout, which served as part of the light heavyweight tournament opening round, sawPhilipe Lins (9-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) tap out Austen Heidlage (7-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the opening round.
The fight took place at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. It aired on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.
Lins scored an early trip-takedown before quickly moving to his opponent’s back. Heidlage tried to shake free. However, Lins clung to his back and secured the body triangle even as Heidlage got back to his feet.
Once standing, Lins struggled to do much as Austen tied up his hands and simply pressed both of them against the cage. However, Lins eventually found his opening, tightened a rear-naked choke, and forced the tap-out. The submission appeared to be the result of both the rear-naked choke and Lins’ ability to cut off his opponent’s airway.
The stoppage, Lins’ seventh in nine career wins, came at the 2:45 mark of the opening round.
“Even when you’re on the ground, you use your body weight when you’re holding [each other],” the bigger Lins said through an interpreter. “It’s a big advantage.”
Lins now advances to the tourney’s semifinals with his perfect record intact.
‘Thinking meathead’ Thompson wins debut
Don’t look now, but James Thompson (20-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) suddenly has a five-fight winning streak.
The English heavyweight, whose early career included a number of fights in PRIDE before a move to EliteXC and other organizations, made a successful Bellator debut after stopping Eric Prindle (8-6 MMA, 4-5 BMMA) with punches in the first round of their co-headliner.
Thompson scored a quick takedown, fought off a heel hook, took side control, and then began the one-sided beatdown. After firing off punches and elbows, he delivered a series of knees to the ribs. As the ref warned Prindle to fight back, the blows kept mounting, and the fight was eventually halted.
The TKO stoppage came at the 1:55 mark of the opening round.
Thompson, who’s now 5-0 (with one no-contest) since a disastrous 1-8 skid, used his post-fight speech to campaign for a fight with Cheick Kongo. He told fans he’s a new fighter.
“Before, everyone thought I was a bit of a meathead,” he said. “They’re only half right. I am a bit of a meathead, but I’ve advanced, I’ve evolved, and I’m now the thinking meathead.”
Sokoudjou makes successful Bellator debut
PRIDE and UFC vet Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou made a successful Bellator debut and halted a two-fight skid with a dominant performance over Terry Davinney.
Living up to a pre-fight promise to dominate the fight, Sokoudjou stuffed a takedown, collapsed on top of his opponent, and battered him with punches and elbows to the body. Davinney eventually reversed the position, but Sokoudjou reclaimed top position and continued the beatdown.
After some heavy ground-and-pound prompted the referee to warn Davinney to fight back, Sokoudjou ultimately transitioned to his back and locked on a deep rear-naked choke to force the tap-out.
The stoppage, which marked Sokoudjou’s first career submission win, came at the 4:16 mark of the round.
As Bellator tries to build up its 205-pound division with other big-show vets, Sokoudjou suggested he could soon join the mix via a tournament berth.
“I wasn’t in a tournament tonight,” he said. “It wasn’t my choice. So I needed to give Bellator a reason to put me in a tournament. So I just had to do what I do and win fights.”
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By Mercedes Terrell