The pre-show Cops credits footage has JUGGLING! An excellent highlight reel for both of tonight's main eventers airs. Everyone else on the card gets a highlight reel and looks like a world-beater. Bellator's production has gotten a lot better on Spike, but this was one of the best things they've done to make the company look major league.
Dave Jansen vs. Rick Hawn
Rob Hinds is the referee for this bout. The first minute is spent with a lot of light jabs and kicks, but nothing major until Hawn either takes him down or Jansen slips - hard to tell which it was. Each man is fighting very tentatively, which fits into the story told of them being friendly with each other, but doesn't make for an exciting fight. Hawn goes for a left-right combo to counter Jansen's leg kicks, but nothing's getting through. This trend continues throughout the round, which ends after Jansen goes for an axe kick at the bell that Hawn gets his arm up for. This wasn't an exciting round, but could serve as a good place-setter if the leg kicks did any damage.
Jansen gets 10-9 via the Bellator app and Jimmy agrees - he was more active, while Hawn was largely defensive beyond his many punch attempts. Jansen gets more leg kicks, and Hawn finally lands a punch. The crowd is absolutely dead for this - you can hear each coach yell instructions like a TUF fight. Push kick to the thigh by Jansen allows him to recover from a punch that landed nicely. Jansen gets a few leg kicks and an uppercut. Jansen gets a switch kick to the jaw and some more leg kicks to close the round. The crowd is now audibly booing. If the first round was 10-9, this was 10-8 - Hawn had next to nothing here.
Round 3 starts off the same as the first two, but with a bit more up-close combat. Jansen has landed 49 kicks to 0 for Hawn. Jimmy Smith quoted Earnest Hemmingway here - so if you see nothing from this fight, check out the first two minutes of it for that. Smith hypes up the workrate of Jansen. The crowd goes crazy with booing as they do more of the same throughout round 3. They run through tonight's card, and Coenen-Bucci is next, followed by Lashley's fight, and then the main event. The fight ends with some back and forth punches that do no real damage. Janesen wins this fight easily.
An ad airs for Bas Rutten's BAS - Body Action System workout setup airs. Bas does his portion of the ad from what appears to be his own pool. Good for him. They have a highlight reel of Jansen's kicks, and use some really unique camera angles. I dug that - it's different and made the fight seem better. Jansen wins by unanimous decision. Jansen's red glasses and badass shirt were post-fight highlights.
The competitors for the main event are shown walking into the building, while the heavyweight fighters are shown backstage.
Marleos Coenen vs. Annalisa Bucci
Coenen starts off quickly again and throws some punches to get her against the cage. She takes Bucci down, and there's some weird mic-bonking sound getting through here - it happened before, and it's happening now. Bucci is in the guard and hanging on for dear life. Big John tells her to stop stalling. Coenen continues to dominate by using her legs to move Bucci wherever she wants. Bucci is covering up like she's in a warzone trying to avoid gunfire, grenades, and/or grains of sand from coming anywhere near her. Coenen's going for a choke, while Bucci's hanging on to her wrist desperately. BUCCI SHOWS A SIGN OF LIFE! She gets on top voluntarily, but still can't do anything. This is a bad fight for each because it's clear Bucci isn't a match for Coenen in any way, but she's still not being finished, so Coenen doesn't look good - it's like she can't even beat this person who is doing anything possible to drag the fight on. Big John orders Bucci, who is still on top, to actually do something. Coenen is landing some nice elbows here. This show feels cursed, so Bucci will probably get a one-punch KO in round three.
Coenen's fight is a lot like Lashley's first Bellator one - the star's opponent is way out of their league, but the star doesn't shine because they're not finishing the fight as quickly as they logically should. Sean said we expected a squash for Coenen, but it hasn't been that. Well, not a Goldberg squash. More like a Goldberg squash with a lot of rest holds. Coenen takes her out early in the third round via an RNC. Another BAS ad airs with Pancrase clips. Well, I sure didn't expect to see that on national TV in 2014. They've got a new split screen for the post-fight promo and then showing the finish. Coenen came off really sweet here, and thanked Scott Coker for giving her a shot in both Strikeforce and Bellator.
Lashley is backstage without any Impact gear on whatsoever, while his opponent is shown boxing into pads. An ad airs for Tito-Bonnar, which continues to just make the company look bad. Beyond how contrived it seems, it's a bit sleazy to involve Tito's wife and then kids by proxy. Lashley is shown with a hype video about wanting to be a champion in MMA, while Etherington tells him he'll wish he was back in a pro wrestling ring. Lashley cut the best promo of his career promising to slice him up, which led to clips airing of his first Bellator fight. This was a spectacular video that made me oh so happy the fight was up next.
Bobby Lashley vs. Karl Etherington
Lashley has legit sponsors here, unlike his first Bellator fight - so he's definitely looking to be a regular here with TNA's future in doubt. Hinds is the referee here and they had a marvelous staredown. Lashley works him against the cage and Karl knees him right in the crotch. Hinds warns Karl, who gets a cheapshot in after the knee. They get stood up right in the center and Lashley gets him down and dominates with back-mount punches. Wow! Etherington tried to throw Lashley, couldn't do it, and lost the fight as a result. Lashley looked so great here - this was the fight he should've had before. It was originally called a TKO by the commentators, but Hinds confirmed during the break that it was a submission by strikes. Jeremy Borash and others get their tweets about the fight on-air. Lashley says he's feeling great now and he talks about being so happy to get a big ovation from his home state. This couldn't have gone better for Bobby.
Randy Couture narrates a Dave and Busters video focusing on a legends signing. With Ken Shamrock back in the fold with UFC, I was a bit surprised to see him here. The main eventers are shown training a bit backstage and we get Jimmy's Key's to Victory before one last ad break.
Light Heavyweight World Title - Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton
An awesome Newton video airs getting him over as a kind of silly guy, but a real badass too. They got over the spinning backfist as his finisher, which reminds me of the one Aja Kong threw on her Raw debut that was absolutely vile. Newton said his conversations with the universe revealed that the battle was already over. I half-expected him to talk about Hulk Hogan and airplanes, but thankfully, that didn't happen - he's quirky in some really good ways. Very memorable.
Vassell's out first followed by the champion. Newton is coming out to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme! Maybe they can bring Jason David Frank in for a fight at some point. Newton goes for a spinning back kick that doesn't get anything. Kick feint leads to Newton switching stances fairly frequently. A spinning back body kick lands for Newton. The crowd was hot for the intros but has cooled down - it feels a bit more like a Japanese wrestling show though where they're paying attention, because they're popping at points. Newton tries for a takedown, but Vassell gets on top and then goes to the back for an RNC. Vassell lets the choke go and Newton flies up, but gets locked into a Kimura sweep instantly. Newton recovers, but quickly finds himself on his back in a crucifix position eating elbows. Newton gets his back and goes for his own RNC. This was an outstanding first round - I'd give Vassell the edge 10-9. Hopefully the remaining rounds can match this one for sheer excitement
Newton goes for a takedown, but it's stuffed. Vassell gets a kimura and it's real close - the arm is torqued and he escapes! Vassell gets back on top and drops some elbows. Now he's landing some shorter punches. Surprisingly, they plug Lashley's match with Roode for the World Title. It's not a huge shock or anything, but you'd think they'd do it before his fight. Lashley's win tonight probably gives TNA a very valuable bargaining chip once again. Vassell gets an RNC, but Newton escapes. Newton slips onto Vassell's back and lands some strikes. A Glory highlight reel aired to hype up the top 20 KOs special airing after this show.
Newton starts the third round with a spinning back kick to the stomach with nothing behind it. This is Vassell's fight, and title, to win. Accidental cup shot with the left foot to Vassell buys Newton some time. Newton goes for a takedown and get's got a grip on the waist from the back, but not really gaining anything beyond some light strikes to the head. Still, he's dominating, and that's good for him. Vassell regains control to close the round.
Newton starts off round four with a big belly to belly takedown. Newton gets some strikes, but he's largely just holding him down. Vassell appears to be a bit gassed. Newton's not doing much other than getting warned about back of the head strikes, and Big John wanting work. This was the worst round so far. Newton got some more strikes to the back of the head, but Big John rightfully tells Vassell to stop turning his head when he sees the punches coming. Vassell looked good to start, but Newton's looked better in the last two.
The final and deciding round is upon us. Newton takes him down, gets the RNC, and wins! Wow, that came out of nowhere and early on, this looked like it was Vassell's fight to win. Coker barely has time to strap the belt on Newton before he hops around. I haven't noticed this before, but they've got their logo on the leather - nice look for the title and their belts definitely look better than UFC's. They hype up Newton-McGeary next year and the show ends with a Tito-Bonnar video. The first fight was largely skippable, while Coenen's fight will be fine in highlights and both the Lashley fight and main event are worth watching in full.
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