Saturday, April 21, 2012
Alvarez comes up big against Aoki
By Franklin McNeil
In possibly the most important fight of his career, former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez exacted revenge against Shinya Aoki.
Alvarez, who entered the bout with just two fights remaining on his Bellator contract, dropped Aoki with a right hand. But patience has been one of Alvarez’s glaring weaknesses.
A quick assault and a follow-up right hand spelled doom for Shinya Aoki.
That wasn’t the case Friday night at I-X Center in Cleveland. Alvarez paused before jumping on the downed Aoki, who saw his seven-fight win streak come to an end.
With the victory behind him, Alvarez turned his attention to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. The two are sure to begin discussing Alvarez’s future with the promotion.
“Bjorn Rebney, show me the money,” Alvarez said after improving to 23-3.
The win might also help remove some of the pain Alvarez has felt since losing his title to Michael Chandler in November.
“I was in a bad spot the past couple of months,” Alvarez said.
For Aoki, finding success in the United States remains elusive. It was his first appearance here since April 2010, when he was on the short end of a unanimous decision to Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Medlendez.
That fight took place in Nashville, Tenn. The rematch with Alvarez was Aoki’s third U.S. appearance.
The first outing between Aoki and Alvarez took place on Dec. 31, 2008, in Saitama, Japan.
Aoki is now 30-6 with one no contest.
Spang gives Rogers a taste of his own medicine
Brian Rogers takes pride in knocking out opponents in impressive fashion.
His latest fight, a middleweight tournament semifinal bout, ended similarly. This time, however, Rogers was on the wrong end of a second-round counter left hand from Andreas Spang.
The punch, which put Rogers flat on his back, came at the 3:34 mark.
Rogers nearly finished Spang early in the second round by landing hard right hands. One of the right hands wobbled Spang, but a tired Rogers could not apply the finishing touch.
That allowed Spang (8-1) to clear his head briefly and deliver the fight-ending punch.
“Brian Rogers is an incredible opponent,” Spang said. “He caught me with some hard shots.
“My left is my go-to weapon when I am hurt.”
Rogers drops to 9-4.
Hard-hitting Falcao gets past Vasilevsky
Not many fighters last three rounds with hard-hitting Maiquel Falcao. And with 23 of Falcao’s 29 wins coming by knockout, most refuse to stand with him.
But Vyacheslav Vasilevsky was undeterred and for two rounds held his own against Facao. But once the striking dust cleared, all three judges preferred Falcao and awarded him a 29-28 unanimous decision.
With the victory, Falcao moved into the middleweight tournament final.
“I don’t want to say too much,” Falcao said. “I just want to wait for the finals. I came here to win the title.”
One reason Falcao might have opted to say little was the difficulty he experienced standing with Vasilevsky in the opening round. Falcao was dropped by a right early in the first.
He also ate several left-light punch combinations in the second round. Falcao (29-4, one no contest) earned the win with a dominant third round, when he nearly finished the fight with a hard right hand.
Vasilevsky, who entered the bout on a 15-fight win streak, falls to 16-2.
Patient Hawn finishes Woodard in second round
Rick Hawn refused to allow the aggressive Lloyd Woodard to take him out of his fight plan. Instead, he remained patient and waited for his opportunity to open up.
That opportunity would come 10 seconds into the second round, when an over-aggressive Woodard left himself open. Hawn seized the moment and landed a hard right hand that sent Woodard to the canvas.
He would not get up, sending Hawn into the lightweight tournament final.
“We had a game plan for this guy,” said Hawn, who improved to 13-1. “We knew what he was going to do and that’s come out strong. I wouldn’t get sucked into that.”
Woodard falls to 12-2.
Weedman edges Michel by split decision
Brent Weedman believed striking power would serve him well in his lightweight tournament semifinal bout with Thiago Michel.
But in the end, it was actually Weedman’s superior size and strength that led him to a split decision victory.
Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Weedman, while the judge had Michel winning 19-28.
Michel (10-3) got the better of the striking exchanges, but Weedman -- a former welterweight -- was able to get the fight to the ground repeatedly. On the ground, Weedman (20-7-1) controlled the action and landed knees to the body.