(Photos courtesy of Lenny Campbell)
Bellator 33 landed in Philadelphia on Thursday night at the Liacouras Center in downtown Philadelphia.
The night featured a special non-title super fight between Bellator lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and UFC veteran Roger “El Matador” Huerta. Also on the card was a Bellator title fight between reigning champ Lyman Good and Season 2 Welterweight Tournament champ Ben Askren.
“What an incredible night of fights, my first thank you tonight is to the city of Philadelphia,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “The crowd, the energy was great, I’m glad Philadelphia fans were treated to a world-class mixed martial arts display.”
In the night’s main event Bellator lightweight champion and hometown hero Eddie Alvarez took on former UFC fighter Roger “El Matador” Huerta in a non-title Super Fight. With Philadelphia fight fans on their feet the two took the center of the cage looking to bang with chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” echoing throughout the arena.
“Definitely a success tonight, everything I could have dreamed of went exactly according to plan. Everything went perfectly. I couldn’t be more happy,” said Alvarez.
The champ found his range early with powerful shots that hurt Huerta in the first round. The high-octane action continued throughout the round with Alvarez buckling Huerta against the cage with heavy shots; however, Huerta was able to recover and employ some effective counter punching that kept the crowd on their fight. The two fighters traded kicks early in the second round with Alvarez becoming the aggressor yet again, taking the center of the cage and backing Huerta down.
The champ consistently found openings for his uppercut and lead straight right that Huerta did not seem to have an answer for. At the end of the second round it appeared that Huerta had sustained an injury, this was confirmed when the referee waved off the third round, giving Alvarez a TKO victory, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.
Hailing from New York, undefeated welterweight champion Lyman Good found himself with a largely hometown crowd behind him in his title fight against Bellator Season 2 Welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Askren, a former Olympian who is widely regarded as one of the most talented wrestlers to transition to MMA, took the champ down within the first 10 seconds of the fight. Good looked to methodically improve his position throughout the first round with brief stints on the feet only to be taken back to the ground by Askren. Askren mounted Good easily in the second and third rounds, and the defending champion was unable to defend against Askren’s superior wrestling. The referee stood the two fighters up briefly in the fourth round, which saw exchanges from each fighter, but ended with Good on his back yet again.
Late in the fifth round, Good found a home for a devastating up-kick that caught Askren directly on the chin, stunning him briefly, and giving Good the opportunity to grab an arm and sink in a deep triangle/armbar; however, with the heart of a champion, Askren regained his composure and ended the 25-minute fight in the full mount position.
The tremendous effort by Askren resulted in a passing of the torch in the Bellator welterweight division and crowned him the new undisputed Bellator welterweight champion.
“I’m glad people got a chance to see my heart. I’m pretty happy with my performance. I told people I was ready to fight and that’s what I did,” said Askren. “I’ve only been punching things for about a year, so I have a lot of room for improvement.”
Earlier in the evening, former Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn battled powerful striker LeVon Maynard. Both fighters were cautious early, feeling out each other’s power and range.
However, after a failed trip attempt by Maynard, Hawn found his opponent in position for a perfectly executed Judo toss, following it up with powerful hammer fists that put an end to the fight. The referee stoppage occurred at 4:53 of the first round.
Also on the main card was Brazilian submission specialist Wilson Reis taking on dangerous WEC veteran Deividas Taurosevicius. In the back and forth fight, both fighters found comfort on their feet, but it was Reis who proved to be the more aggressive fighter, ultimately awarding him a split decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Local Feature Fights:
• Tim Carpenter def. Jamal Patterson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
• Kenny Foster def. Lester Caslow via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Luiz Azeredo def. Eduardo Guedes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Nick Cottone def. Tuan Pham via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Fran Evans def Lewis Cassner via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:20