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Bellator 149: Memorable For All The Wrong Reasons



Since Viacom bought Bellator MMA in 2011, the company has made strides to establish itself as an eventual alternative to the UFC. Former Strike Force CEO, Scott Coker was named the new president of the group, a working agreement with the Pride-inspired Rizin was established, and Ben Henderson recently decided to ink a deal after his contract with Zuffa concluded. Despite the billions of dollars and media entities that Viacom has behind it, Bellator just wasn’t going to be able to go head-to-head with the UFC, in terms of star power, brand identity etc. So, how do you compete with the MMA power house? The business strategy formed to become something different and create an alternative, delivering the type of show fans won’t see from Zuffa. Elaborate entrances, aging legends, and novelty acts provided the draw while a solid roster of stars such as Patricio Pitbull brought action to the table.

The problem with novelty acts is, if the fight goes beyond the first few minutes, you could witness a train wreck. The Kimbo/Shamrock card from last year worked almost perfectly for Bellator, as they had a solid under card with good action and the gimmick main event went a minute before Kimbo KO’ed “The world’s most dangerous man.” After the 52-year-old collapsed to the canvas, I wrote that he shouldn’t be allowed to fight again and he tarnished his legacy. I will say the same thing after Bellator 149, it’s irresponsible and embarrassing that any company would sign Ken Shamrock to fight.

Last night’s card that was televised on Spike TV was a complete embarrassment for Bellator and it make the group look completely bush league. They went too far with the novelty acts and it backfired. Granted, MMA enthusiasts scoff at a washed up Shamrock or a street fighter competing in the pro ranks, but to the casual viewer, it’s a draw. The under card was rather uneventful, with the exception of Derek Campos landing vicious punches on veteran slugger Melvin Guillard to win via stoppage.

The main events of the show were memorable…for all the wrong reasons.

The co-main event featured two former Miami street fighters when YouTube star, Kimbo Slice stepped into the cage to fight “Dada 5000.” I’ve said it before, I will give Kimbo credit for putting in the work to attempt to transition into legitimate competition, even at an older age and fighting in a variety of organizations when the opportunity is presented. As seen during his time on the Ultimate Fighter, Kimbo is a humble brawler and his efforts were praised by UFC president, Dana White, who was one of his biggest critics. If anything, it’s nice to see Kimbo get film work and more fighting opportunities to support his family, which was highlighted in a recent Spike TV documentary about his life. Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris went from a back alley brawler to the pros and fought twice before his Bellator debut, but his opponents had one win combined. Many anticipated a wild brawl that would end quickly. Instead, the viewing audience was subjected to 12 minutes of the competitors moving at a snail’s pace after a brief shuffle during the opening minute of the contest. This might possibly be the worst MMA bout I’ve ever seen and the sheer ridiculousness had to be seen to be believed. Kimbo and Dada were so gassed that they could barely keep their hands up while stumbling around the cage. I was honestly hoping “Big John” would make the save for the viewing audience and stop the fight. The finish came went Kimbo landed a moderate hook and Dada slumped towards his opponent before staggering and collapsing to the mat. I don’t know if Dada was finished from the punch or the lack of oxygen, but thankfully, the debacle was over.

Post-fight, Kimbo mentioned he was hungry and he would like a Miller lite. Harris was taken from the cage on a stretcher for exhaustion. While I approve of Kimbo getting a paycheck, this was far from a “professional” fight and the results were laughable. Obviously, “Dada 5000” should go back to throwing haymakers in front of the 7-Eleven and hopefully, he uses whatever he got paid to get a new hair cut.

The main event was twenty years in the making as a rematch from the first UFC event took place. It’s definitely a novelty act, but it’s a novelty that’s worthwhile considering the history between the two and their similar age provided an even fight. It was mentioned during the broadcast that Royce Gracie hadn’t tapped his fists for bout, which indicated that he didn’t plan on throwing any punches so he opted for a series of kicks when the fight started. The history of the Gracie dynasty is well documented and despite being 49, Royce didn’t really fight past his prime, deciding instead to focus on teaching at the Gracie schools. Without the extra miles on his body, it was interesting to see what the ju jit su legend brought to the table.

Roughly two minutes into the contest, an accidental knee hit Shamrock low and the referee didn’t see it, which allowed Royce to land a few ground strikes until it was stopped. The ending was lackluster and controversial, but let’s hope this doesn’t somehow justify a rematch. The lesson here should be that you can’t book a card of just gimmick fighters and expect decent results. Put one sideshow fight on the card to get the casual fans to tune in and allow the current fighters to get some exposure, and provide decent action, which adds substance to the sizzle of the card.

I’m not sure where Bellator goes from here, but I would guess it will be difficult to get the general public to take the promotion seriously after these shenanigans. Keep in mind, the casual viewer isn’t going to tune into the lesser known fighters that will actually provide quality bouts so essentially, Bellator is limiting themselves to die hard MMA fans until they produce shows that redeem their credibility after the train wreck that aired on Spike. From a perception stand point, Bellator 149 was a hindered some the progress the company made with the new signings and working agreements last year.

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