Curran shines as Bellator’s 8th season comes to a climactic close

Posted: April 5, 2013 in Latest news

curran_bellator-95

By Jim Gramm, Beyond the Cage

Bellator ended its eighth season yesterday with another spectacular night of fights, this time in Atlantic City for Bellator 95. Of the four scheduled fights on the main card for Spike TV, three ended before the final bell. After a sub-par season seven, season eight did not disappoint and the move to Spike did wonders for the promotion.

To the fights where it was kicked off by former lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn moving back up to Welterweight to face former UFC contender Karo Parisyan. Parisyan looked good in the first round but in classic “Heat” fashion, he started to fade entering the second frame where Hawn used a left then a big right followed by some uppercuts to KO the Armenian in the second round at 1:55. I don’t know if Hawn plans on staying at welterweight but either way he has some huge KO power.

The second fight of night was the first of two tournament finals on card with this one being in the middleweight division. Brett Cooper matched-up with former WEC champ Doug Marshall. The fight played out on the feet for almost a minute before Cooper went for a take down. After dishing out little damage to the “Rhino,” Marshall got back to the feet and was able to land one of his powerful looping hooks to the chin of Cooper, sending him crashing to the canvas. After one more big shot while Cooper was on the ground, the referee stopped the fight declaring Marshall the winner by KO at 3:39 in round one. There is no secret to what Marshall likes to do but nobody in this tournament could stop him. With the win he earns a shot at Bellator middleweight champ Alexander Shlemenko.

The other tournament final was in the featherweight division and was the only fight to go the distance as Mike Richman fought Frodo Khasbulaev. After a furious first round which saw Frodo moving in and out the pocket throwing multiple punch and kick combinations, that pace took its toll on the Russian who was noticeably slower in the next two rounds. The slow and steady pace by Richman along with solid takedown defense kept him in this fight and most likely won him the second round.. Despite a sloppy third round by both men, the fight was overall pretty entertaining in which the judges scored in favor of Khasbulaev via unanimous decision. After cruising into the finals Khasbulaev ran into a very game opponent that almost beat him. This leads me to say the Frodo will have to step up his game when he gets his title shot because the champ at 145 is really good.

Speaking of the Bellator 145 champ Pat Curran, he put his title on the line for the main event against season seven featherweight tournament winner Shahbulat Shamhalaev. Both guys were feeling out each other throwing nothing more than some leg kicks before Curran rushed in for a take down resulting in the champ getting a headlock which he turned into a guillotine while dropping down to his back in guard. The Russian Shamhalaev tried to ride this choke out but instead passed out and the ref stepped in to break this one up at the 2:38 mark in round one. Curran gets his first finish since winning the title about a year ago and it was perfect way to end what was the biggest and best season of Bellator to date.

Season eight lived up to all the expectations Bellator and Spike placed on it. All 12 cards were action-packed and saw tons of finishes, upsets and great performances. If this is the bar for future Bellator seasons, good luck to Bjorn and company on trying to top this one. The only negative to this season I can think of was that the welterweight final did not take place do to injury. Besides that I am sad to see the season end but I am already stoked for season 9.

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