by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The BodogFight promotion held its first pay-per-view event on Saturday night, December 2nd, and the end result was less than thrilling.
The theme of the show was “USA vs. Russia,” despite the fact that the event took place in Vancouver, Canada. In addition, one of the three advertised superfights did not air (with absolutely no explanation), the USA vs. Russia series was a fairly one-sided affair in favor of Team USA, valuable minutes of PPV time were wasted on a performance by a Bodog Music group called Neurosonic, and there was a seemingly never-ending stream of truly dreadful segments involving punk rocker Bif Naked, who was met by the crowd with a mix of boos and awkward silence every single time she entered the ring.
The announcers claimed that the 5,000-seat arena was sold out, but that did not appear to be even close to true, and the crowd that was in attendance was quiet for most of the evening. On the live PPV broadcast, Fedor Emelianenko was not seen in the building, nor was the promotion’s financier, gambling maven Calvin Ayre. Pride Open Weight Grand Prix finalist Josh Barnett was watching the event from the front row, and in a baffling moment, the commentators (who otherwise did a fairly good job throughout the evening) actually stated that Barnett used to be the UFC Heavyweight Champion and “chose to leave the UFC to move on to bigger and better things in Japan.”
Interestingly, the post-event credits included two names that may be familiar to viewers of “ShoBox: The New Generation” on Showtime. One day after working on the ShoBox broadcast crew in California on Friday night, producer Richard Gaughn and director Rick Phillips had the same exact roles on Saturday night’s Bodog broadcast. The live production of the show was respectable, with the exception being that the graphics team got the weight classes consistently wrong throughout the evening (ie, 185 pounds being “light heavyweight,” 170 pounds being “welterweight,” etc).
The most anticipated fight of the evening for a majority of hardcore fight fans was King of the Cage veteran Eric Pele’s fight against Antonio Silva, who came into the event undefeated in his MMA career. One of the most agile 300-pound fighters that you’ll find, Silva had previously dominated MMA veteran Tom Erikson via absolutely vicious ground and pound at a K-1 Hero’s event in May of this year.
A buzz was building for Silva headed into the event, and he appeared to justify that buzz in the first two minutes of the fight, as he used his fast, accurate, and powerful punches and kicks to pick apart Eric Pele. All of that changed when Pele connected flush with a hook to the side of Silva’s head, sending Silva crashing down to the canvas. After several unanswered blows on the ground, the referee stopped the fight, and Pele won by TKO in a huge upset.
Silva’s cornermen should be ashamed of themselves for their actions after the fight, as they ran into the ring and went face-to-face with the referee, yelling in his face for stopping the fight and repeatedly saying, “He wasn’t knocked out!” No, he was not knocked out, but he was also not intelligently defending himself, and the stoppage was justified.
The referee, who was just doing his job, did not deserve to have cornermen screaming in his face. As for Silva himself, he started protesting the stoppage about five or six seconds after it happened, but he still congratulated Pele on the victory afterwards. Silva still has a lot of potential, but tonight his rapid rise was at least temporarily derailed.
In the other superfight on the PPV broadcast, accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist Roger Gracie made his MMA debut against Ron Waterman, who was offered the fight after Bodog’s negotiations in recent months did not result in signed contracts for Gracie to fight Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, or Don Frye.
Waterman took Gracie down and was briefly in the side mount position, but he was never able to truly test Gracie’s chin with any devastating blows before Gracie maneuvered himself into the full guard and submitted Waterman from the bottom with an armbar. With an MMA record of 1-0, Gracie is just starting in his MMA career and has a long way to go, but with his phenomenal submission skills as a strong base from which to build, he has plenty of potential to be a force in MMA a few years from now.
During the PPV commercials that aired for several weeks before the event, and during the PPV countdown show, and during the first half of the live PPV broadcast, there were three advertised superfights: Gracie vs. Waterman, Silva vs. Pele, and Aaron Riley vs. Eddie Alvarez. Riley vs. Alvarez never aired on the PPV, with absolutely no explanation given to the paying customers as to why they were not going to see all of the advertised fights on the PPV.
If the company had simply run out of PPV time, one could make a strong argument that they managed time very poorly with all of the Bif Naked segments and other filler. If that were the case, it would be frustrating, but at least then there would be a logical explanation for the Riley vs. Alvarez fight not airing. In fact, the show went off the air with 30 minutes of reserved PPV time still remaining on the broadcast, which makes the decision not to air Riley vs. Alvarez all the more inexcusable.
The fight between Riley and Alvarez did take place after the PPV went off the air, with Alvarez winning via first round knockout, but you wouldn’t know that if you were one of the paying customers who ordered the PPV.
If one of the goals of this event was to build up some goodwill with MMA fans and make them more likely to order the company’s next PPV in March, this event likely accomplished the exact opposite.
The USA vs. Russia series was an anti-climactic affair, as Fedor was nowhere to be seen on the PPV, even though he was supposed to be “the coach of the Russian team.”
When all was said and done, the Americans won six of the USA vs. Russia match-ups, and even then, one of the two victories for the Russian team came by way of a questionable split decision (Erik Oganov’s victory over Keith Wisniewski).
In the eight-fight USA vs. Russia series:
-Trevor Prangley (Team USA) controlled most of his fight against Andrei Semenov (Team Russia) en route to earning a unanimous decision victory.
-Mario Rinaldi (USA) dominated Sergei Kaznovsky (Russia) and won via unanimous decision, but only after he survived a major scare in the second round. Kaznovsky landed a huge knee that opened a big cut above Rinaldi’s eye and could have ended the fight, but Rinaldi recovered enough to still win the second round and the fight.
-Chael Sonnen (USA) rode out a lackluster unanimous decision victory over Alexey Oleinik (Russia). Sonnen did not connect with much offense, and even more so, Oleinik seemed content to hold on to Sonnen tightly from the bottom guard and did not attempt much in the way of offense.
-Tara Larosa (USA) was impressive as she put on a grappling clinic in her submission victory over Julia Berezekova (Russia).
-In one of the only exciting fights in the “USA vs. Russia” series, Nick Thompson (USA) and Ansar Chalangov (Russia) had a back-and-forth bout, which ended when Thompson secured a rear naked choke and Chalangov tapped out just before the horn sounded to signal the end of the first round.
-Nick Agallar (USA) appeared to be in control of Vladimir Zenin (Russia) in the stand-up position, particularly with some nasty leg kicks, until Zenin floored Agallar with a punch and then finished the fight with strikes on the ground.
-Erik Oganov (Russia) fought a lot better than his 2-5 career record would suggest as he squeaked out a split decision over Keith Wisniewski, although I honestly don’t know how one of the judges had Oganov winning all three rounds.
-Michael Patt (USA) controlled most of his fight with Martin Malkhasyan (Russia) and won via split decision. The dissenting judge must have given Malkhasyan the first round, which Patt was winning until Malkhasyan scored a takedown with a minute left in the round.
-Roger Gracie def. Ron Waterman by submission (armbar) at 3:38 of Round 1
-Eric Pele def. Antonio Silva by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 2:40 of Round 1
USA vs. Russia Fights
-Trevor Prangley (USA) def. Andrei Semenov (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Mario Rinaldi (USA) def. Sergei Kaznovsky (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Chael Sonnen (USA) def. Alexey Oleinik (Russia) by unanimous decision
-Tara Larosa (USA) def. Julia Berezekova (Russia) by submission (armbar) at 1:28 of Round 2
-Nick Thompson (USA) def. Ansar Chalangov (Russia) by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:59 of Round 1
-Vladimir Zenin (Russia) def. Nick Agallar (USA) by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 4:26 of Round 1
-Erik Oganov (Russia) def. Keith Wisniewski (USA) by split decision
-Michael Patt (USA) def. Martin Malkhasyan (Russia) by split decision
-Eddie Alvarez def. Aaron Riley by KO in Round 1
-Todd Gouwenberg def. Ron Faircloth by KO in Round 1
-Rob Velek def. Tim Smith by TKO in Round 1