Saturday, March 31, 2012
Amoussou makes most of first main event
By Chuck Mindenhall
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Heading into Bellator’s welterweight quarterfinals on Saturday, Karl Amoussou’s match-up with Chris Lozano looked like the toughest draw of the field. That was one of the reasons it was the main event as the Season 6 tournament got underway.
It also didn’t hurt that Amoussou was telling whoever would listen beforehand that he would knock out Lozano.
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Things didn’t work out that way in the end, but the Frenchman Amoussou (14-4-2) still dusted his hands off early with a rear-naked choke of the “Cleveland Assassin.” And ultimately it was a big kick that lowered the boom on Lozano to set up the sequence.
“Of course I’m happy with the submission,” Amoussou told ESPN.com afterward. “The important thing for me first is to win the fight, even if it’s a decision. It’s important to win. Of course, when I finish a fight, it’s better. But I made a big knockdown with my high kick and my submission came very easily after that, so, you know, I’ll take it. And I’m glad of it.”
Amoussou, who up until five months ago was working as an undercover police officer in his native France, was originally slated to face War Machine (formerly Jon Koppenhaver) at Bellator 63. But with Machine having been sentenced to another prison sentence stemming back from an assault charge in 2009, this time in the state of Nevada, Amoussou drew Lozano instead. Lozano has been training at Greg Jackson’s in Albuquerque after having been knocked out by Douglas Lima in October in the Season 5 welterweight semifinals.
Whether it was Lozano or War Machine, the “Psycho” was going to talk. Before he and Lozano squared off, the two exchanged words during a heated staredown.
What were they saying?
“Just ‘hi, how are you,’” laughed Amoussou. “But seriously, I don’t really remember.”
And once the fight got started, it didn’t take long for Amoussou to settle matters. In fact, similarly to when he fought Jesus Martinez in November in a 175-pound catchweight fight, Amoussou walked away in the same mint condition that he arrived.
Karl Amoussou's high kick spelled the beginning of the end for Chris Lozano.
“I felt great,” he said. “I didn’t get touched even once in this fight. It was the same in my last fight, so two fights without even getting hit with a punch. I’m showing good things now. People should get ready for the next Bellator champion, and it’s going to be me.”
That would be novel -- there’s never been a French MMA champion in Bellator. And if there is a dark horse in the welterweight tournament, it might be Amoussou. He lost a narrow split decision in his Bellator debut in May 2011 against Sam Avery, but at just 26 years old he’s showing a lot of new wrinkles in his game -- especially now that he has switched to fighting full time.
And it’s down to a four-man field, featuring UFC veteran Ben Saunders, Bryan Baker and David Rickels. Asked if he had a preference who would be next, Amoussou admitted he didn’t care. The reason? He’s confident he matches up with anybody they stick in front of him. When Baker strolled by Amoussou in the bowels of the Mohegan Sun sporting a nice suit, a happy Amoussou yelled out to him, “Bryan Baker, you’re so handsome.”
Baker smiled. Who knows? The former middleweight could be standing opposite Baker in the semis. But on Saturday night in Uncasville, after making quick work of Lozano with nary a scratch, the Frenchman traded in the barbs for some pleasantries. It probably won’t last. Whenever his next opponent is announced, Amoussou will be back in the business of forecasting knockouts.
“Tonight I showed my real level and at the same time I can tell you, I didn’t show half of my level,” Amoussou said. “I have so many things that I can bring. Just be ready for more action next time.”