Bellator 99 took place on Friday night at Pechanga Resort in Temecula, Calif., where the Season 9 Featherweight Tournament got underway with the quarterfinal round bouts, and UFC veterans Vladimir Matyushenko and Houston Alexander squared off.
Easily the two most high profile fighters in the featherweight tournament, Patricio Pitbull didn’t allow UFC vet Diego Nunes to show much of why he was once one of the top 145-pound fighters in the world.
They did the brief dance, trying to find a rhythm, but Pitbull didn’t need a rhythm as he connected with a short left hook as Nunes moved in on him. The hook took Nunes’ legs away, and moved Pitbull one step closer to his ultimate goal… a shot at Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran.
This was a close fight with neither fighter able to dominate. Guerreiro, however, seemed to be a half step ahead of Green in the stand-up game, staying a little busier than his opponent.
Guerreiro had a strong second round that likely won him the fight. He pressed Green up against the fence for a significant portion of the round, driving knees into his thigh and hamstring.
Green scored early in round three before the fight leveled out for the remainder of the frame, the two men trading sporadic blows until the end of the fight, neither showing much of a sense of urgency.
Guerreiro moved into the featherweight semifinal round to square off with Patricio Pitbull.
Alexander, not really know for his takedown game, surprised Matyushenko early, taking him to the mat, but found out right away that the mat isn’t the best place to be with the Belarusian.
Matyushenko then established that he was also the man to beat on the feet, edging ahead of Alexander with some solid punch combinations.
Alexander tried to edge back into the fight early in round three, but Matyushenko ate a couple punches and then took the fight back, planting Alexander on the mat, mauling him for the remainder of the fight.
Matyushenko earned the unanimous nod of the judges.
Wilcox was aggressive from the opening bell, swinging with power in everything he threw, but Stepanyan quickness and maneuverability allowed him to avoid most of what Wilcox threw his way.
More than that, however, Stepanyan picked Wilcox apart, mixed high and low kicks, even taking out Wilcox’s ankle with low kicks, and tagging him with a stinging jab. Stepanyan landed a spinning hook kick to the back of Wilcox’s head in round two that caused blood to gush from his scalp.
Wilcox, however, managed a takedown a short time later, eventually taking Stepanyan’s back to sink in the fight-ending rear naked choke and move on in the featherweight tournament.
Fisher had a significant height and reach advantage, but failed to capitalize on them. Taimanglo wasn’t really faster, but he was the aggressor, constantly darting in and out on Fisher, putting his fist in his face and chopping away with solid leg kicks.
Taimanglo kept up his steady pace throughout the fight, while Fisher never seemed to find a comfortable groove.
Taimanglo moved on to the semifinal round of featherweight tournament, where he will meet Justin Wilcox.
-Patricio Pitbull Freire def. Diego Nunes by KO (Punch) at 1:19, R1
-Fabricio Guerreiro def. Des Green by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Vladimir Matyushenko def. Houston Alexander by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
-Justin Wilcox def. Akop Stepanyan by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:20, R2
-Joe Taimanglo def. Andrew Fisher by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
-Virgil Zwicker def. Nick Moghaddam by TKO (Strikes) at 3:22, R1
-Blagoi Ivanov def. Manny Lara by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:17, R1
-Goiti Yamauchi def. Musa Toliver by Sumbission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:01, R1
-Gavin Sterritt def. Andy Murad by Split Decision
-Hector Ramirez def. Savio Kosic by Unanimous Decision
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