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Monday, October 14, 2013
Freire, Wilcox close in on Curran

By Josh Gross
ESPN.com

Season 9 continued for Bellator Friday night in Wichita, Kan., adding some flare to a crowded combat sports weekend, despite UFC taking a rare Saturday off.

We'll get to the grades in a moment, but first let's look at the diversity of action.

Joining Bellator on Friday was the Legacy Fighting Championship. Henry Cejudo, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, and Holly Holm, an exciting 135-pounder on the female side, earned the headlines. Of the two, Holm impressed much more, though there's no doubt she faced less of a challenge. Not that Cejudo fought a world beater, but considering his size, Ryan Hollis makes for a unique test at 125 pounds.

Cejudo struggled with Hollis' striking, and never looked comfortable against his 5-foot-11 foe, which is the main reason it went the distance.

There's plenty to learn for Cejudo, and he'll have to process everything quickly because he steps into the cage again next month.

He may have won, but Cejudo, it could be argued, regressed against Hollis. Holm, however, treated an overmatched foe as she should have. This was an impressive effort from the ill-intentioned striker, culminating in Holm liquifying Nikki Knudsen's insides with kicks and punches. Holm looks ready and able for a leap up in competition, which will come when she eventually signs to fight in the UFC. Expect that sometime soon.

On Saturday, Glory kickboxing made its debut on Spike TV. It has been a while since I took a serious look at kickboxing, and like many Americans, I'm still not sold. It feels foreign -- very European -- yet is close enough in style and substance to boxing to give people hope that the sport will break through on these shores.

That's a significant gamble, yet watching a technician such as Tyrone Spong do his thing will always be pleasurable no matter how he chooses to apply his gifts.

Because MMA is part of Spong's life, I didn't feel like a philanderer the moment he snapped off a left hook that ended the night for a rival Australian. Spong will cycle back to MMA with World Series of Fighting in early 2014.

He's a busy man with lofty expectations. Remember, this is the guy who fancies himself the "Bo Jackson" of combat sports. In his kickboxing wheelhouse, Spong came through very well, a natural, like Bo playing football, which is why it's probably more interesting to see him compete outside his comfort zone.