(Patricky Freire cracks “Razor” Rob. Photo courtesy of Bellator.)
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Excepting Dana White’s big announcement, this was what passes for a slow MMA weekend in 2011. HDNet Fights broadcast its first Shark Fights card, Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship capped off its first heavyweight tournament, and Bellator’s Season Four Lightweight Tournament kicked off in Shreveport, Louisiana on Saturday night. Two Qualifying Fight cards were scheduled to take place there but were canceled due to the massive earthquake. Read on for a full analysis of the impact the fights had on the rankings.
Texas-based Shark Fights is the newest addition to HDNet’s Friday night fights lineup. The regional promotion intended for it’s Shark Fights 14“>hi-def debut to be headlined by Houston Alexander (#66 Light Heavyweight) and James Irvin (#94), but the fight was scrapped after Alexander suffered an injury and Irvin got popped for steroid use. A middleweight match between UFC vets Matt Horwich and Danillo Villefort got promoted to the main event, where Villefort completely dominated Horwich, taking home a unanimous decision. Horwich falls from #38 to #56 in the Middleweight Rankings, while Villefort is reassigned from #38 in the Welterweight poll to #26 at 185. The only other ranked fighter on the card was Lucas Lopes, who came into the bout unranked and left at #161 in the Middleweight Rankings following his loss. The bout between Tara LaRosa and Carina Damm was a qualifying bout and will impact their standings when FIGHT!’s official women’s MMA rankings are released later this year.
In Abu Dhabi, ADFC: Round 3 crowned the first ADFC Heavyweight Champion. Shamil Abdurahimov cut down Jeff Monson (#44), Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (#83 Light Heavyweight) and Marcos Oliveira en route to a #34 ranking in the Heavyweight poll. Oliveira enters the rankings at #79 following the loss. The only other ranked fighter on the card was superheavyweight Bob Sapp, who fell from #96 to #109 after a loss to unranked Stav Economou.
On Saturday night, Bellator 36 hosted four Lightweight Tournament Quarterfinals matches. Michael Chandler came into his bout at #54 in the Welterweight Rankings and left at #58 in the Lightweight Rankings after he defeated unranked Polish prospect Marcin Held. Two-time tournament finalist Toby Imada held his ground at #52 with a win over unranked late tournament replacement Josh Shockley, “Razor” Rob McCullough crashes from #70 to #154 following his stoppage loss to unranked Patricky Freire, and Carey Vanier suffered a similar fate, plummeting from #95 to #187 after his loss to unranked Lloyd Woodard. Freire and Woodard are both likely to enter the rankings before the end of 2011. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and the right to challenge Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight) for the title.