With the preliminary round of fights out of the way, the fourth installment of “Fight Master: Bellator MMA” showcases the first phase of training under coaches Greg Jackson, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock and Joe Warren.
The 16 fighters move into their living quarters, which are located in the same facility that houses the gym. While Jackson, Couture and Warren have each secured four men for their respective squads, the Team Shamrock room is left with an empty bed due to a cut sustained by preliminary round winner Andy Uhrich.
As a result, Shamrock must choose one of the first-round losers as a wildcard entrant. The former UFC champion selects Joe Williams, a hard-nosed wrestler who Shamrock believes holds great potential.
The competitors start their training camps, beginning with Jackson’s squad. Coach Jackson explains his philosophy to his prospects, detailing his passion for winning before telling them that they will succeed as a band of brothers with an emphasis on strategy.
Warren, meanwhile, instructs his men to smile before briefly expounding on his approach of combining jiu-jitsu and wrestling to maximize his effectiveness on the mat. Shamrock emphasizes mental toughness and tells his team that winning this competition will not be easy. He hands each of his fighters a notebook to use as a journal throughout the competition as a way to balance mind, body and spirit with technique.
Couture informs his fighters that egos must be checked at the door if they are to produce the best results. The three-time UFC heavyweight champion hopes to avoid working his team too hard over the course of the short competition.
Next, the coaches sit down with Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney and rank the fighters. UFC veteran Joe Riggs takes the top spot, with Cristiano Souza, Chris Lozano, A.J. Matthews and Cole Williams falling in behind him to round out the top five. The fifth-ranked Williams wins the random draw and receives the first opportunity to choose his opponent, selecting Mike Dubois of Team Shamrock.
Before the men square off, however, we are presented with a recap of the previous week’s events. Dubois details his hunting habits and refers to himself as a “pure, white, American honky,” while Williams explains the difficulties in leaving his family to compete on the show.
Shamrock describes Dubois as “super green,” but also lauds the Georgian’s potential and punching power. Couture, meanwhile, urges the technically superior Williams to take the rugged Dubois seriously as assistant coach Neil Melanson teaches Couture’s man the Von Flue choke.
Upon entering the cage, Williams makes quick work of “Zombie Mike,” taking him down swiftly and mounting his back. Couture’s pupil slips his forearm under Dubois’ throat and elicits a tap, picking up a submission win via rear-naked choke.
Up next, Team Shamrock’s Lozano squares off with Team Jackson’s Bryan Travers. Known for his chin and endurance, Travers hopes to exploit a perceived weakness in Lozano’s cardio and make the veteran pay for choosing him as his first fight. On the other side of the fence, Lozano and his team work specifically on his conditioning in order to prepare him for Travers’ gas tank.
Travers takes the center of the cage to start the contest, and both men fire off combinations that hit nothing but air. Travers clinches, but Lozano reverses the position against the cage before Jackson’s charge takes him down for a split second. After popping right back to his feet, Lozano disengages and whiffs on a high kick.
Lozano soon finds his distance, however, and cracks his foe with a pair of whipping low kicks before popping him with a jab. Travers dives on a single-leg and words hard, fighting through Lozano’s attempt at a switch to briefly plant Shamrock’s man on his butt. Lozano grabs the cage to climb back to his feet, though the referee appears disinterested in such things. Lozano takes charge at the end of the first frame by bouncing several clean shots off of Travers’ dome, but Travers eats the shots and continues to advance as the round ends.
Round two begins with more clean shots from Lozano; Travers continues to walk through the blows and initiates a clinch. Lozano lands a hard left hook but is taken down off a caught leg kick. Travers passes to half-guard and takes the tournament veteran’s back, but Lozano counters with a kneebar attempt. The try is unsuccessful but allows Lozano to escape to his feet briefly before Travers dumps him back down with a power double-leg.
The fight is scored a draw through two rounds, so an overtime period is contested. Travers appears to be the fresher of the fighters and cracks Lozano with several nice shots to start. Lozano retaliates with a few hard leg kicks over the next two minutes, but his output is not as consistent as Shamrock would like. Lozano picks up his pace as the round ends, and both men throw with conviction. Travers drives for a takedown, but Lozano hits a switch and ends up sprawled out on top as the fight ends.
Host Jimmy Smith announces that Lozano has won the fight by split decision, much to the delight of Shamrock. Next week, Team Warren’s Jason Norwood and Ismael Gonzalez meet Team Couture’s Mike Bronzoulis and Team Shamrock’s Joe Williams.