Bellator 120 concluded last night at the Landers Centre in Southaven, MS. in a night full of memorable moments. However, in some respects, the event was memorable for the wrong reasons, and until the pay-per-view figures are released, it is hard to judge whether it can be considered a success.
The main event was a close decision between King Mo and Rampage Jackson, with the latter ultimately getting the unanimous nod, though many took to social media claiming that they scored the fight in Mo’s favour. This can be seen as a good thing for Bellator, who can now easily set up a rematch between the two that will be easy to market with the bad blood between the two. Though the antics of King Mo is another question.
Throughout the event, King Mo called out Bellator president Bjorn Rebney, with a couple of technical glitch ridden interviews where Mo claimed Rebney had been ‘d–k riding’ his opponent Rampage Jackson. Post-fight, Mo stated that if Rebney has a problem with him, he should cut him. Problem number one.
In his post-fight interview, Jackson called out King Mo, and seemed to have ignored the whole purpose of the fight – for the winner to fight for the title next. Either Bellator keep the fire burning, book Jackson vs. Mo II and keep Newton on the sidelines; or, Bellator can risk Jackson losing to Newton and ruining any chance of Rampage and Mo fighting for a second time. Problem number two.
The co main event was full of surprises and, in an entertaining five round fight, Will Brooks won via split decision against Michael Chandler to claim the interim lightweight title. This is both great and horrific for Bellator. Now, they have a new star in Will Brooks who came in on short notice and beat a man widely considered one of the finest lightweights in the world, but he also ruined any hopes of a trilogy fight between Chandler and undisputed champion Eddie Alvarez. As a result, Brooks has emerged as a big contender in the lightweight division and earns a shot at the title. Is Brooks vs. Alvarez as appealing as Chandler vs. Alvarez III? I’m not quite sure.
Tito Ortiz pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by defeating middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko. Ortiz won for the second time in eight years and beat the formerly ‘unbeatable’ Shlemenko, and lost any appeal of the Russian champion. There will always be that doubt behind Shlemenko, many claiming ‘but he lost to Tito’, in the same way Ryan Bader suffers from that very same problem. However they do have the Cinderella story of Tito Ortiz, and he has emerged as a contender in the light heavyweight division. At 39 – ten years Shlemenko’s senior – and off the back of multiple surgeries and injuries, will Ortiz be around much longer?
Ortiz followed up with one of the most cringe-worthy post fight speeches, demonstrating a lacklustre Hulk Hogan impression and repeated that he is back and won’t be going anywhere. He also called out the UFC, and claimed he will go down in light heavyweight history. Though perhaps lacking in microphone skills, Ortiz still remains as watchable as ever.
Elsewhere on the card, Blagoi Ivanov suffered a loss and set up a less-than intriguing heavyweight title bout between former champion Alexander Volkov and Vitaly Minakov. Ivanov was one of the most marketable fighters in the promotion after falling into a coma and coming close to death due to a stabbing, but the loss to Volkov halts the progress of the formerly undefeated Bulgarian. Michael Page was victorious, going 6-0 and doing so in impressive fashion, but his constant showboating lost him some fans, with numerous fans booing the Brit.
Bellator 120 was full of surprises, intrigue and finishes, and will go down as one of the most memorable cards of the year. A second venture into the pay-per-view business looks likely for the promotion, and the buy rate will certainly have a big influence on how Bellator decide to go forward. Was the card worth $35? I say yes.