Bellator Fighting Championships returned to “The Crescent City” Friday night for the close of Bellator’s action packed sixth season. Bellator Heavyweight Champion Cole Konrad made the first successful title defense of his career while Rick Hawn won the Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament with a dynamic performance.
Also, Luis Nogueira will move on to the finals of the Bellator Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament and Rich Clementi picked up an impressive victory at Bellator 70 from Harrah’s in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“The performance Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman delivered was a fantastic way to close our sixth season,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Cole Konrad once again proved why he is one of the best heavyweights in the world, while Luis Nogueira advanced in dominating fashion. Harrah’s New Orleans provided us with a great venue, and our Summer Series is shaping up to be one for the ages.”
Heading into their fight in “The Big Easy,” Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament finalists Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman dominated their competition through the first two rounds of the tournament.
With an opportunity to face Bellator World Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler within reach, both men were eager to prove their status as the #1 contender. Throughout a fight engaged primarily on the feet, both fighters were able to land solid shots in front of an electric New Orleans crowd.
However, it was the polished striking and the world-class takedowns of Hawn (14-1) that ultimately led him to victory. For three rounds, Hawn appeared to land the harder shots while Weedman (21-8-1) tried his best to deliver strikes of his own. However, it was not enough as all three judges awarded Rick Hawn a unanimous decision victory as he becomes the Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament Champion
“Chandler, I know you’re watching at home, I’m coming for you,” said Hawn.
In his first title defense since defeating Neil Grove at Bellator 32, undefeated Bellator World Heavyweight Champion and two-time NCAA Wrestling Champion Cole Konrad looked to send a message to all the heavyweights on the Bellator roster, and he did just that against challenger Eric Prindle. Almost immediately, Prindle (7-2) came out throwing with ill intentions, however Konrad (9-0) secured a signature takedown and began working for a kimura. Prindle tried to fend off the Champion’s submission attempt, but was unable to gain a better position. Konrad twisted with increasing intensity until the “The American Soldier” was forced to submit 1:00 into the fight.
“I think I have a pretty solid base with my wrestling,” said Konrad. “I’ve got to keep improving on my standup, my submission, and my wrestling, too.”
In the second Bellator Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament semifinal fight, four-fight Bellator veteran Luis Nogueira and Hiroshi Nakamura squared off with the winner meeting Marcos Galvao for the tournament championship.
Throughout the bout, the reach advantage for Nogueira (14-2) was evident. While the first round was close, the second and third is where Nogueira found his rhythm. In the second, the Japanese star Nakamura (15-6-4) found himself on the receiving end of crisp striking and a big full body slam. In the third round, Nogueira came out just as aggressive as he was in the second.
After an exchange on the feet, Nogueira was able to land a right hand that floored “Iron.” After a series of follow up punches, referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop the fight at 1:58 of the third round.
“Since the start of the fight, I knew he was feeling my punches,” said Nogueira. “I was looking for the right moment to finish the fight.”
In the first fight of the evening, 56-fight MMA veteran and local fan favorite Rich Clementi looked to earn his first win under the Bellator umbrella when he met promotional newcomer, Derek Campos. Clementi (43-21-1) showed patience in the opening moments of action, letting Campos (9-3) dictate the pace of the fight. However, after a quick scramble to get back to his feet, Campos found himself in a guillotine choke that “No Love” did not abandon. With no way out, Campos was forced to tap at 4:18 of the first round.
“As a competitor, the valleys are what makes me strong,” said Clementi. “I’m at my peak right now, I’m coming back, and ‘No Love’ is back.”