by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Tom Hill)

courtesy of TomHillPhotos.com)


Bellator Fighting Championships kicked off its second season
on Thursday night with a quartet of tournament bouts that certainly must have
left the promotion brimming with promise for an exciting season.


Bellator went all out to land former UFC fighter Roger
Huerta and he did not disappoint. Despite this being just his third bout in the
past two years, he showed no signs of rust. He was taken down several times
early by a powerful Chad Hinton, but he adjusted, taking Hinton down in the
second stanza and softening him up with ground and pound for the majority of
the round.


Hinton tried to overcome his visible fatigue, storming out
in round three. He clinched Huerta from behind after the former UFC fighter
missed with a flying knee, but Huerta rolled out of it. A scramble ensued.


Huerta emerged on top, dropping down hammerfists, but Hinton’s
leg was served up for the taking and Huerta took it, finishing the fight with a


“That guy was so strong,” Huerta later commented. “I was
trying to finish by TKO, ground and pound, but I had to take the leg.”


In the second of the lightweight bouts, Greg Jackson trained
Carey Vanier showed that there’s more than Huerta and current champion Eddie
Alvarez in the Bellator 155-pound division.


He faced a game last minute replacement in Joe Duarte, but
Vanier fought a smart fight, patiently working to negate Duarte’s size and
strength advantage by taking him late into the fight for the finish. 


Vanier had opportunities throughout the bout, taking Duarte
down a number of times in the opening round, but he never lost focus, instead
patiently picking away at Duarte.


Sensing Duarte getting weary, Vanier used a stinging
straight left in round two to keep the pressure on. Then, in round three, he
went back to the takedown and brutalized Duarte for a little over four minutes
before finally ground and pounding him into a TKO stoppage.


Huerta and Vanier move on to the next round of the
lightweight tournament, promising some fireworks before a challenger to Alvarez
is determined.


Bellator’s second featherweight tournament also kicked off
with two quarterfinal bouts on Thursday night, promising some strong
competition for current champion Joe Soto when he faces the eventual tournament
winner in season three.


The featherweights kicked off with a barnburner of a fight.
Former professional soccer player Georgi Karakhanyan, known more for his Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu skills, surprisingly went headhunting with veteran striker Bao Quach.


Karakhanyan caught Quach off guard early, landing some head
kicks that rocked the Team Oyama fighter. But Quach battled back, using his
boxing skills to stun Karakhanyan on a couple of occasions. In the end, it was
Karakhanyan’s knees that proved the deciding factor.


Making his way back to his feet after a Quach takedown, Karakhanyan
backed his opponent across the ring and drove two knees to Quach’s chin, the
second of which put him out cold.


“I took my time, capitalized and knocked him out,” said
Karakhanyan after the fight. “I’m very confident. I’m just looking forward to
my next fight.”


Team Quest fighter Joe Warren said in the lead-up to his
fight that he was ready and willing to grind it out for all three rounds all
the way through the tournament if necessary. And that’s just what he did.


Warren immediately went for the takedown and started
grounding and pounding, but not without Eric Marriott giving him a scare in the
first round. He caught Warren in a deep armbar then transitioned to a tight
triangle, but he didn’t have the time he needed to finish it before the bell.


“I give Eric Marriott credit, that was a tight, tight
triangle,” Warren said after the fight. “I just toughed that out, wait until
they snap the bell.”


Rounds two and three were much the same, sans the near
submissions from Marriott. He kept trying, but was unable to stop Warren from
taking him down and pounding away at him for the duration.


“I’m real happy to get this win and move to the second
round,” said Warren of the unanimous decision.


With their victories, Karakhanyan and Warren move on to the
semifinal round.


Tournament Bouts:
-Roger Huerta def. Chad Hinton by Submission (Kneebar) at 0:56, R3

-Carey Vanier def. Joe Duarte by TKO (Strikes) at 4:14, R3

Featherweight Tournament Bouts:
-Joe Warren def. Eric Marriott by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Georgi Karakhanyan def. Bao Quach by KO (Knee) at 4:05, R1

Preliminary Card (Non-Televised):
-Vagner Rocha def. Francisco Soares by TKO (Strikes) at 2:07, R2

-Edson Diniz def. John Kelly by Submission (Kneebar) at
4:36, R1

-Mikey Gomez def. Moyses Gabin by Unanimous Decision, R3

-Chris Manuel def. Ralph Acosta by Submission (Guillotine
Choke) at 0:35, R3