If this was indeed Eddie Alvarez’s final appearance under the Bellator Fighting Championships banner, he certainly went out with a bang.
Alvarez knocked out Patricky “Pitbull” Freire with a first-round head kick in the Bellator 76 main event on Friday at Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Freire (10-4, 3-3 Bellator) lay unconscious at the base of the cage 4:54 into round one, as Alvarez scaled the cage, embraced his wife and ran into the stands in celebration.
“I have a lot of respect for ‘Pitbull,’” Alvarez said. “You had two of the most exciting lightweights in the world in the cage here tonight.”
Before the decisive finish, the headliners authored one of the year’s most memorable rounds. Alvarez floored the Brazilian with a savage left hook early on and followed him to the mat with a right hand. “Pitbull” was quick to answer, as he returned to his feet and put Alvarez on his heels with crisp right hand behind the ear. The American clinched to recover, and the two men eventually separated.
With round one nearing its close, Alvarez (24-3, 8-1 Bellator) backed Friere into the cage and, with the Team Nogueira export leaning to his right, threw a Louisville Slugger head kick that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. A volley of right hands punctuated the victory, Alvarez’s ninth win in his last 10 appearances.
“The goal never changes,” said Alvarez, who is believed to be headed to the UFC. “It’s about beating the guy in front of you. That’s what I’m here for.”
Martinez Outlasts, Outpoints Malegarie
A series of stout left hands and timely takedowns carried Rad Martinez to a unanimous decision victory over Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Nazareno Malegarie in the Bellator Season 7 featherweight tournament quarterfinals. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Martinez (13-2, 3-0 Bellator).
Martinez established his foothold in the grueling battle with a consistent left cross, which had Malegarie (22-3, 1-3 Bellator) bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth midway through round one. The Argentinian’s vaunted submission game was never a factor, as Martinez tagged him with punches and struck for takedowns at the end of rounds one and three.
“I feel a little roughed up, but winning that fight has me feeling a lot better,” Martinez said. “This tournament is the toughest in the world. If you get to where you fight the champion, you’ve definitely earned it.”
Fabiano Armbar Taps Stepanyan
Former International Fight League champion and WEC veteran Wagnney Fabiano submitted Akop Stepanyan with a first-round armbar in the Bellator Season 7 featherweight tournament quarterfinals. Stepanyan (12-4, 0-1 Bellator) tapped out 3:24 into round one, his 12-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Fabiano (15-3, 1-0 Bellator) struck for a takedown roughly 90 seconds into the match, moved to side control and eventually set up shop in full mount. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt then transitioned beautifully to the armbar. Stepanyan put up an admirable struggle, but his arm eventually bent beyond its bounds.
“I do my best to put on a show,” Fabiano said. “I’m here for a reason. I want a shot at the title.”
Richman Head Kick Levels Spoon
Mike Richman needed less than half a minute to take out Jeremy Spoon in the Bellator Season 7 featherweight tournament quarterfinals, as he knocked out the Oklahoman with a head kick 23 seconds into round one.
After a brief exchange on the feet, Richman belted Spoon (12-2, 2-2 Bellator) with the head kick and followed his stunned prey to the canvas, finishing him with a pair of standing-to-ground punches. The 27-year-old Richman (13-1, 2-0 Bellator) has won four consecutive fights, three of them inside one round.
“That’s kind of one of my specialties in the gym,” said Richman, who trains under Greg Nelson at The Academy in Minnesota. “I’ve got a sneaky high kick.”
Shamhalaev Waylays, Eliminates Bollinger
Once-beaten Russian import Shahbulat Shamhalaev put away Cody Bollinger with first-round punches in the Bellator Season 7 featherweight tournament quarterfinals. Bollinger (13-3, 0-1 Bellator) met his end 4:49 into round one.
Shamhalaev (10-1-1, 1-0 Bellator) capitalized on a Bollinger slip, pounced on the American and delivered some hellish ground-and-pound from inside guard. His shots to the body were of particular interest. Bollinger eventually folded under duress; he turned his back and absorbed a series of unanswered blows that brought the bout to a close.
Khasbulaev Blasts Hezam in 24 Seconds, O’Grady Upends Matthews
In preliminary action, fast-rising Russian prospect Magomedrasul Khasbulaev needed just 24 seconds to put away Nayeb Hezam in a reserve bout for the Bellator Season 7 featherweight tournament; Ali Mokdad halted a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Simon Marini at 185 pounds, earning matching 29-28 nods from the judges; King of the Cage veteran Dom O’Grady posted his fifth win in six appearances with a split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) against Blackline MMA welterweight prospect A.J. Matthews; Chad Laprise kept his perfect professional record intact with a unanimous verdict over Ainsley Robinson at 155 pounds, sweeping the scorecards by matching 30-27 counts; and unbeaten Mash Fight Team representative Jason Fischer submitted Kyle Prepolec with an arm-triangle choke 3:19 into the third round of their lightweight encounter.