Rick Hawn, Ron Keslar Advance to Season 9 Welterweight Final at Bellator 104

By Brian Knapp Oct 18, 2013
Rick Hawn denied Brent Weedman for a second time. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com

Sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. Such was the case for Brent Weedman.

Rick Hawn utilized blistering punching combinations and superb defensive grappling, as he earned a unanimous decision over Weedman in the Bellator MMA Season 9 welterweight tournament semifinals on Friday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hawn (17-2, 9-2 Bellator) swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 marks, winning for the sixth time in his last seven outings.

The tone was set at the start. Weedman (22-9-1, 8-4 Bellator) kept marching forward, and he kept getting hit. A two-punch combination from Hawn, punctuated by a searing left hook, put the Kentucky native on the canvas in the first round. Little changed over the next 10 minutes, as Hawn unleashed vigorous rights and lefts to the head. Weedman answered with kicks to the head, leg and body but failed to mount enough offense to slow down the judoka. Hawn grew more and more comfortable in the pocket as the fight deepened, mixing in an inside trip takedown from the clinch for good measure in the third round.

“I landed more shots than I thought,” said Hawn, a four-time national champion in judo who represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics. “The kid’s tough. I hit him with everything I’ve got, and he wouldn’t go down.”

Keslar Chokes War Machine Unconscious

Photo: K. Mills/Sherdog.com

Keslar upset War Machine in style.
The American Kickboxing Academy’s Ron Keslar left War Machine unconscious with a first-round rear-naked choke in the Season 9 welterweight tournament semifinals. The room went dark on War Machine (14-5, 2-1 Bellator) 3:31 into round one, his modest three-fight winning streak snapped.

Keslar (11-3, 2-0 Bellator) landed a takedown inside the first minute, carved out a cut on the bridge of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 6 alum’s nose and transitioned to his back, securing a dominant position with a body triangle. Eventually, War Machine returned to his feet in desperation, his opponent still attached.

There, Keslar waited for his opportunity. In a blink, he slipped his arm underneath the chin and went all-in with the choke. War Machine collapsed back to the canvas and fell unconscious soon after.

“This whole experience has been the greatest opportunity of my life,” said Keslar, who entered the tournament as an injury replacement in September. “I don’t ever want to let it go.”

‘Ultimate Fighter’ Winner Grove Outduels Vedepo

Photo: K. Mills/Sherdog.com

Grove's knees dented Vedepo up.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove made a successful promotional debut, as he posted a unanimous decision over Joe Vedepo in a featured middleweight affair.

All three judges sided with Grove (19-13, 1-0 Bellator), arriving at 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 scores.

Grove leaned on crisp punches and kicks from the perimeter and countered his opponent’s takedowns with an effective sprawl and a relentless stream of submissions.

He dropped Vedepo (14-7, 1-2 Bellator) with a ringing right cross in the first round, threatened him with a guillotine choke in the second and opened multiple facial lacerations with a grazing head kick and knees from the clinch in the third.

“Give credit to Joe,” Grove said. “I got winded trying to defend his takedowns. I couldn’t catch him, but I felt like I got close.”

Australian Graham Outclasses Prindle

Photo: K. Mills/Sherdog.com

Graham bloodied Prindle badly.
Leg kicks, punishing right hands and a series of standing elbows carried Australian kickboxer Peter Graham to a one-sided unanimous decision over Eric Prindle in a heavyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Graham (9-5, 1-0 Bellator): 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.

Stuck on the feet with a world-class striker, Prindle (8-4, 3-3 Bellator) had no path to victory. Graham chopped out his base with leg kicks and nearly finished it inside the first round, where he drove the hulking Arizonan to the mat with a series of right hands. Punches, hammerfists and elbows flew next, as Graham opened a horizontal gash on Prindle’s forehead.

Fatigue seized upon both men in rounds two and three, and their pace slowed to a crawl. Graham stayed busy enough to keep control, punctuating his eighth straight win late in the third round. There, in the waning seconds, he floored Prindle with a beautiful, lightning-quick front kick to the chin. Only the bell prevented further damage.

Prelims: Sass Toe Hold Submits Montoya

Photo: K. Mills/Sherdog.com

Paul Sass made it two leglock finishes
in a row at Bellator 104.
Ultimate Fighting Championship castaway Paul Sass (14-2, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Ron Montoya (15-16, 0-2 Bellator) with a toe hold 2:01 into the first round of their scrap at 155 pounds; Eric Bradley (21-5, 1-0 Bellator) captured a unanimous decision over Karl Amoussou (16-6, 4-3 Bellator), sweeping the scorecards by 29-28 counts; “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 alum Robert Emerson (13-10, 1-0 Bellator) coaxed a tapout from Jared Downing (9-4, 0-2 Bellator) 1:44 into round one of their 150-pound catchweight clash; Derek Loffer (5-1, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Cliff Wright (7-6, 1-4 Bellator) with an armbar 4:28 into the second round of their 160-pound catchweight match.

Also, Andre Tieva (7-0, 1-0 Bellator) kept his perfect professional record intact, as he stopped Christopher Lane (8-11, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 2:14 into round one of their featherweight battle; and Brandon Girtz (10-3, 3-1 Bellator) forced Mike Estus (5-1, 0-1 Bellator) to verbally submit to an armbar 1:45 into the first round of their 160-pound catchweight duel.


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