Bellator 121: James Thompson and Sokoudjou Have Successful Debuts, Light Heavyweight Tournament Semis Set


Bellator 121

Bellator kicked off their 2014 Summer Series on Friday, June 6th at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Bellator 121 featured a heavyweight matchup between Eric Prindle and the debuting James “The Colossus” Thompson. In addition, 3 quarters of the Bellator summer series light heavyweight tournament–including the main event between a pair of undefeated fighters: Austen Heidlage and Philipe Lins.

Unfortunately the bad luck and injury bug carried over from Season 10, as for the fourth straight event, Bellator lost their main event fight. Featherweight champion Pat Curran was scheduled to defend his title against Season 9 tournament winner, Patricio “Pitbull” Friere, before a calf injury forced him off the card.

James Thompson scores 10th career 1st round TKO victory in Bellator debut

James Thompson (19-14) comes into his Bellator debut on a 5-fight unbeaten streak–which he accumulated fighting for KSW and Super Fight League. The former Pride and Dream heavyweight takes on a former Bellator heavyweight title contender in Eric Prindle (8-5), who has lost his last 4 straight bouts in Bellator. A fight dubbed as Godzilla vs. King Kong by Bellator themselves.

James Thompson right away pushed Prindle against the fence, using a single leg takedown to get the fight to the mat into half-guard. Thompson transitioned into side mount and continued to land unanswered ground and pound, forcing the referee to step in and save a turtled up Eric Prindle. The victory was James Thompson’s 10th career 1st round TKO victory.

“I’ve advanced, I’ve evolved. And now I’m a thinking meat head,” Thompson said post-fight. “They thought The Colossus was over, they [Bellator] took a chance on me and it just so happens they took the right chance. The colossus is back. People know The Colossus, I turn up to fight, I didn’t turn up to Bellator for the numbers, I came to fight anyone.”

Thompson proceeded to call out heavyweight Cheick Kongo in his post-fight speech.

 

Sokoudjou scores first career submission victory in Bellator debut

“The African Assassin” Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (14-12) recently signed with Bellator, after suffering back to back TKO losses against competition in Russia. He adds to his growing resume of promotions that include Pride, UFC, and Strikeforce, by making his debut on Bellator 121, opposite Terry Davinney (10-7).

Sokoudjou made a statement in his debut, first reversing the takedown of Terry Davinney and gaining top position–where Sokoudjou unleashed and continued to reign down a barrage of heavy unanswered punches. Sokoudjou moved into mount and eventually back mount, that allowed him to secure the rear naked choke for the tap in round 1. His first career submission victory in 27 career fights.

“My message is I’m here. I didn’t enter the tournament it wasn’t my choice. But I need to give Belltaor a reason to put me in the tournament. I need to win fights,” Sokoudjou said post-fight.

 

Three Bellator summer series light heavyweight tournament bouts took place on the Bellator 121 card, resulting in the field being cut down to 4 men. Four men who’s hopes to earn a title shot at current Bellator light heavyweight champion, Emanuel Newton.

Philipe Lins remains undefeated, advances to semifinal with 1st round standing rear naked choke

The main event of the evening saw a pair of undefeated light heavyweights compete in the final opening round bout of the tournament, Austen Heidlage (7-0) vs. Philipe Lins (8-0).

Heidlage, a natural middleweight, gave up a sizable disadvantage to his Brazilian counterpart, Lins. Philipe used a trip takedown to get the fight to the ground, right into taking the back of Heidlage. Austen stood up with Lins strapped to him like a backpack with a body-triangle in tact. Lins locked on the standing rear naked choke that nearly caused Austen Heidlage to pass out, securing the 1st round submission victory. Lins remains undefeated at 9-0 and advances to the semifinals, while handing Heidlage his first loss in the process.

“I’m doing with Jiu-Jitsu for a long time, working with my masters, I owe everything to him,” said the BJJ purple belt Lins.

 

Egidijus Valavicius’ superior striking allows him to advance to the semifinals

The Brazilian Carlos Eduardo (11-3) quickly imposed his will on the Lithuanian Egidijus Valavicius (26-10) in the first round, showcasing his superior grappling on the canvas. However the fight would not reach the mat from there on, in Round 2 Valavicius was able to keep the fight standing by defending Eduardo’s takedown attempts. Both fighters landed a good amount of punches in the stand up exchanges in the 2nd. But Valavicius was clearly the more effective striker, continuing to push forward and land a variety of strikes including kicks and flying knees, this carried over to the 3rd round, which Valavicius dominated entirely on the feet. All this while overcoming a cut over his right eye that came due to a headbutt in the 2nd.

Egidiju Valavicius was rewarded the split decision over Carlos Eduardo, and advances to the semifinals.

 

The two victors, Philipe Lins and Egidiju Valavicius, join Kelly Anundson, who secured his spot in the semifinals with a unanimous decision win over Rodney Wallace on the prelims.

While Liam McGeary awaits the other 3 semifinalists in the 2nd round, as he already punched his ticket into the light heavyweight tournament semifinals by knocking out Mike Mucitelli in the first round at Bellator 118.

The Bellator 2014 Summer Series light heavyweight tournament semifinal matchups are set: Liam McGeary (7-0) vs. Egidiju Valavicius (27-10). And Kelly Anundson (8-2) vs. Philipe Lins (9-0).

 

 

Preliminary Card

In the final prelim bout, Cortez Coleman (10-5) took on Joe Vedepo (15-8) in a close fight that went the distance. Coleman came out swinging wildly but also connecting on the chin of Vedepo with his wide looping hooks, living up to his nickname of “The Crazy Cowboy”. Rounds 2 and 3 were much closer, seeing both Vedepo and Coleman exchanging top control, takedowns and superior positioning on the mat. In the final minute, Coleman landed an illegal knee to the head of a downed Joe Vedepo, that forced the referee to deduct him a point. Judges ruled a majority decision in favor of Joe Vedepo.

The first of three light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bouts on the card saw former NCAA All-American wrestler Kelly Anundson (7-2) dominate Rodney Wallace (21-8-1) with his wrestling and top game over 3 full rounds, aside from a very brief glimpse of offense from Wallace in the 3rd. Anundson landed a double leg takedown on Wallace seconds into the fight, which meant a sign of things to come. As the American Top Team fighter showed his ability to out-wrestle his more experienced opponent, and earn his spot in the semifinals with a unanimous decision victory.

Ray Sloan (6-0) locked up his 6th submission victory in 7 bouts, first rocking Jamelle Jones (2-1) with a straight right, and quickly pounced on his back securing the standing rear naked choke for the tap in 48 seconds.

TUF 17 castmate, Bubba McDaniel (21-8) made his Bellator debut against Matt Jones (5-7). It took McDaniel a round to get started, but he was eventually able to get the fight to the mat in round 2 and dominated the fight from that point on. Battering Jones on the feet with kicks in round 3, on route to winning a unanimous decision.

Steve Garcia (3-0) was the man who upset Shawn Bunch in his Bellator debut, returned to take on Cody Walker (0-0) in his pro MMA debut. Walker put the pressure on Garcia right from the opening bell, but Garcia caught him being overly aggressive and with his hands down. Garcia landed a left body kick followed by a left hook that knocked Walker out cold.

The taller and lankier, William Florentino (4-3) handed the previously unbeaten Guillermo Martinez Ayme (6-0), his first career loss. Florentino kept the Cuban at the end of his reach in the stand up for the better part of 3 rounds and scored a split decision victory.

 

Full Bellator 121 Results:

Main Card (9 PM EST, Spike TV)

  • Light Heavyweight tournament quarterfinal: Philipe Lins def. Austin Heidlage via Submission (rear naked choke)–Round 1, 2:45
  • James Thompson def. Eric Prindle via TKO (strikes)–Round 1, 1:55
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou def. Terry Davinney via Submission (rear naked choke)–Round 1, 4:16
  • Light Heavyweight tournament quarterfinal: Egidijus Valavicius def. Carlos Eduardo via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Preliminary Card (7 PM EST, Spike.com)

  • Stephen Banaszak vs. Treston Thomison
  • Joe Vedepo def. Cortez Coleman via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
  • Light Heavyweight tournament quarter final: Kelly Anundson def. Rodney Wallace via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Ray Sloan def. Jamelle Jones via Submission (rear naked choke)–Round 1, 0:48
  • 190 lb catchweight bout: Bubba McDaniel def. Matt Jones via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
  • 140 lb catchweight bout: Steve Garcia def. Cody Walker via Knockout (punch)–Round 1, 0:39
  • William Florentino def. Guillermo Martinez Ayme via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

 

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