When we look back on the history books hundreds of years from now, March of 2011 will be an important 31 days, not because of the spectacular fights on offer but because of what happened outside of the cage as Zuffa LLC the parent company of the UFC purchased their biggest competition in Strikeforce.
But that wasn’t all that went on in the month of March, Bellator impressed their new circle of viewers on MTV2, Jon Jones dominated the consensus best light-heavyweight in the world, bad judging plagued us once again and that’s just the beginning. So let’s look at the fights given the bonuses this month.
Submission of the Month: Richard Hale & Chan Sung Jung
Typically, there are a series of impressive submission holds that make the audience scream O! But this month there were two that stood out above the rest so I decided to share the award this month.
When the field for Bellator’s light-heavyweight tournament was released even the most optimistic Bellator viewer was less than thrilled but that all changed at Bellator 38.
Nik Fekete entered the light-heavyweight tournament being keyed as one of the favorites to take home the first ever Bellator Light-Heavyweight Championship being undefeated in his four professional bouts including a victory over Strikeforce Challengers star Ovince St-Preux.
Richard Hale was a mid-level Rage in the Cage veteran who had competed since 2006 and had 21 fights under his belt, entering the tournament he had won two of his last three outings and was looking to impress in arguably the biggest fight of his career.
Hale did exactly that, early into the bout Fekete used his superior wrestling to slam the former RITC Champion to the mat and from there it looked to be the end for Hale but before you knew it he had wrapped his legs around the head of Fekete executing a beautiful inverted triangle.
Fekete attempted to stand up to defend the amazing looking submission hold but it was too late, it took a little over a minute for Hale to secure a submission of the year contender and advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.
The inverted triangle choke was made famous by fellow Bellator combatant Toby Imada in the first season’s lightweight tournament and seeing a man the size of Hale pull of the same maneuver was thrilling.
On the other side of the coin we have Chan Sung Jung squaring off against Leonard Garcia from UFC on Versus 3.
“The Korean Zombie” and Garcia first met in one of the most exciting bouts in WEC’s history last year with Garcia leaving with his hand raised in one of the most controversial decisions in the organization’s history.
Garcia stepped into their televised bout coming off another controversial decision against “The Ultimate Fighter” stand out Nam Phan in the first UFC featherweight scrap in history which was dubbed the “Robbery of the year 2010” According to Sherdog.com.
Jung on the other hand entered their 145-lbs scrap with his head on the chopping block having lost two fights in as many appearances inside the octagon, luckily for him he impressed and impressed big time.
Their rematch didn’t begin with the fireworks of their first bout last April, instead we saw Jung control the fight from the get go utilizing his wrestling and counter striking to out-land the Jackson product.
When Jung shot for a take down late in the second frame many believed he was trying to steal the round on the judges’ score cards, but the Korean with a huge fan following had other ideas.
But Jung had other plans, he began by searching for a rear naked choke which the jiu-jitsu black belt defended easily before he ditched a hook and figure-foured Garcias legs and locked on the twister spinal crank which forced the Brazilian to submit with just one second left on the clock.
The spinal lock is called the twister; it is a sideways body bend and neck crank, which involves forcing the head towards the shoulder while controlling the body, hence causing lateral hyper flexion of the cervical spine. The technique involves tension in several body parts, and depending on the flexibility of the recipient, can also involve pain in the knees, abdominals and torso.
KO of the Month: Dan Henderson
Former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson got the opportunity to fight for his first light-heavyweight title on American soil this past March when he squared off with newly crowned king of Strikeforce’s 205-lbs division, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.
Henderson was primed to rematch reigning UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva before negotiations between his management and the UFC fell through giving him the opportunity to move over to Strikeforce.
Henderson debuted in the organization at middleweight losing to Jake Shields before returning to his optimal weight of 205-lbs in 2010.
“Hendo” destroyed former UFC Light-Heavyweight title challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral in his return to light-heavyweight to earn his chance to challenge for the gold held by Cavalcante.
Feijao dominated Antwain Britt and Aaron Rosa to earn his shot at Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
Cavalcante was the overwhelming underdog stepping into the Strikeforce cage against the American Kickboxing Academy product but would up leaving with his hand raised after a third round TKO.
For his first title defense he didn’t get an easy task in Henderson who came to prove that he was still a threat to anyone in the world.
For two rounds the two light-heavyweight stand outs embarked on the best fight of the night with both men exchanging right hands for two rounds with both men collecting winning a round each on my unofficial score card.
When the bell rang for the final frame Henderson came to finish the job, they exchanged with Cavalcante giving as good as he got before out of nowhere Henderson scored with a huge right hand that was dubbed the “H-Bomb” by cageside announcer Mauro Ranallo.
Fight of the Month: Martin Kampmann vs. Diego Sanchez
When a welterweight scrap between Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez was announced to be aired on free television the entire fight world marked the date on their calendar. Kampmann made the transition to welterweight in 2009 after a TKO loss to Nate Marquardt at the end of 2008 and quickly made a reputation for having exciting outings after great bouts with Carlos Condit and Paulo Thiago which earned him the opportunity to move up the 170-lbs ladder.
Last time we saw him enter the octagon he welcomed former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields to the octagon in a highly competitive bout which he won on my unofficial score card then was given another tough test in original “Ultimate Fighter” Diego Sanchez.
Sanchez made the choice to return to Greg Jackson’s gym last year following a disappointing defeat to British prospect John Hathaway and looked to be in great form in his dominate decision over Paulo Thiago.
Both men entered the cage that night determined to leave with a fight bonus and that’s exactly what they did.
The bout started with both men exchanging on the feet with both men taking a lot of punishment before Kampmann got the upper hand with his technical counter boxing. Early into the second round Kampmann cut “The Dream” who showed heart and perseverance to continue on while continuing to push forward throwing a large quantity of strikes and taking a lot in return.
When the judges rendered their decision it seemed clear just from looking at both the participants that Kampmann would be the winner however the men that mattered at cage side saw it for Sanchez much to the dismay of the 8,000 people in the KFC Yum! Centre.
Despite one of the worst robberies I have seen in a fight in quite some time both men fought their heart out and earned the right to be called the best fight of the month.
That’s all this time O-Sters; be sure to check back shortly for the April edition.