The sixth episode of “Fight Master: Bellator MMA” features two more elimination-round bouts, as Team Jackson representatives Joe Riggs and Tim Welch take on Team Warren’s Eric Scallan and Team Shamrock’s Nick Barnes.
Greg Jackson tells Welch that he has been ranked No. 6 and it is his turn to select an opponent. Welch walks into Frank Shamrock’s training room and calls out ninth-ranked Barnes, whom Welch regards as a tough test.
Due to his other obligations, Jackson is unable to be in the gym every day. As a result, Joey Villasenor and Damacio Page are in charge of training while their head coach is away, and they work with Welch on his footwork. On the other side, Shamrock advises Barnes to nullify Welch’s power punching with kicks to the legs and body.
Barnes’ teammates ask him about the scars on his body, and he recounts how he was accidentally set on fire by some of his cousins when he was 15. Barnes, who is nicknamed “The Phoenix,” vowed to become stronger from the experience and has used the incident as motivation in his fighting career.
The men touch gloves to begin this battle of 22-year-olds, and Barnes begins to attack with those aforementioned kicks. Welch suddenly cracks his man with an overhand right and a left hook, but Barnes recovers before accidentally poking Jackson’s man in the eye. Welch counters a kick with a beautiful straight to the body, but Barnes bulls forward with a double-leg and quickly takes Welch’s back. Jackson’s charge fights off a rear-naked choke attempt, but Barnes is relentless with the attack and finally secures the tap.
“I hate losing,” Jackson says after the defeat, “but more than anything, I hate losing to Shamrock.”
Though Jackson consoles his fighter like a concerned parent after the defeat, he later takes his remaining two protégés aside and speaks to them in a very different way.
“I want you to rip their f---ing hearts out,” Jackson tells Riggs and Eric Bradley. “We are not losing. I don’t care what the f--- happens. Do you understand me?”
As the underdog, Scallan says he has nothing to lose and believes Riggs has a tendency to break mentally. Riggs, meanwhile, recounts his fighting history, which has included top billing in the UFC and Strikeforce.
Despite being the 15th seed, Scallan says he is not afraid of the top-ranked Riggs, who is having trouble making weight. The 30-year-old steps on the scale at 193 pounds, meaning he will have to cut more than 20 pounds inside of one week. A heartless Scallan rubs it in by eating a massive crawfish dinner in front of his opponent, who is stuck nibbling on two ounces of salmon and raw spinach.
Though they will soon fight, Riggs and Scallan bond over the fact that they are former addicts. Riggs says he will still support Scallan after the battle, but his primary goal is to first knock him out. Riggs survives the grueling cut and makes weight, coming in at 170.8 pounds, while Scallan tips the scales at 170.4.
Scallan attacks with kicks to start the bout while circling away from Riggs’ power hand. Scallan clinches and presses Riggs against the cage, but Riggs takes him down with a pretty outside trip. Riggs lands in side control, but Scallan scrambles back to his feet. Scallan tries a takedown, but Jackson’s fighter shucks him off and grabs an over-under clinch. Riggs quickly grabs a Thai plum and puts Scallan down with a knee to the jaw. Joe Warren’s man rolls away from the ground-and-pound, but Riggs rides him until the round expires.
Warren’s charge drives forward for a takedown to start the second frame, but Riggs fights him off again before turning the tables and scoring with a trip of his own. Scallan tries to scramble to his feet, but Riggs rolls with him and passes to side control. Riggs loses the position, and Scallan stands in search of a single-leg. Jackson’s fighter hits a switch and sprawls out before trying an arm-triangle. The veteran can’t find his squeeze and releases the hold, transitioning to mount and then taking Scallan’s back as the round ends.
Riggs is awarded the win via unanimous decision, much to the delight of Jackson, who remains convinced that “Diesel” holds an excellent chance of winning the whole show.
Next week, two of Randy Couture’s fighters will see action, as Cristiano Souza and A.J. Matthews face Warren’s Evan Cutts and Jackson’s Bradley.