Bellator 39 recap: Alvarez dominates Curran to retain title; Freire KO’s Imada to advance

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Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez retained his title in his first defense Saturday night at Bellator 39 against Pat Curran, but it took a full five rounds to do it.

Despite the bout going the distance, Alvarez dominated the action start-to-finish, putting on a clinic with his boxing. Alvarez used his footwork and speed to punish Curran round-after-round with crushing body shots, leaping right hand leads, and blistering uppercuts. Curran was simply outmatched in the stand up department by the champion.

Curran established his counter game effectively at times, but lacked the firepower he needed to garner any type of momentum in the bout. Curran’s toughness was acknowledge by the champion after the fight, and his takedown defense was impressive as he fended off a majority of the takedown attempts from Alvarez.

After the bell sounded on the final round, a bloodied and battered Curran had only managed to win a single round on only one of the judge’s scorecards.

Alvarez was awarded the lopsided unanimous decision by way of two 50-45 scores, with the other judge scoring the bout 49-46, and admitted that Curran has a bright future and will one day be a champion.

“Guy’s got a hard, hard head. He can take a shot,” Alvarez said. “He just stuck in there through thick and thin.”

With his first successful defense of his title, Alvarez (22-2 MMA, 6-0 BFC) extends his latest win streak to seven.

Rick Hawn advances to 170 finals with split decision victory over Lyman Good

Former Olympic judoka Rick Hawn would have to beat a former Bellator champion to remain undefeated and advance to the finals of the Bellator welterweight tournament. He would do just that, edging out Lyman Good with a split decision victory.

Hawn took control of the action by applying pressure to Good in the first frame, but was unable to take Good to the mat from the clinch against the cage. Good was able to land the more effective strikes in a very close first round.

Hawn exploited a weakness in Good’s game in the second, dominating the action from the top after a trip take down early in the round. Good had no answer for the top game of Hawn, spending almost the entire second frame on his back.

Going into the third, it was likely that the winner of the final round that would take the bout after fifteen minutes of action. The third stanza was a back-and-forth affair, with Good landing the cleaner strikes, while Hawn controlled the cage and applied more pressure.

In the end, the scores would be in favor of Hawn (11-0 MMA, 3-0 BFC) who claimed his spot in the finals with the split-decision victory (29-28, 28-29 and 30-27).

Patricky Freire impresses with KO of Toby Imada

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, coming off a stunning finish of former WEC lightweight champion Rob McCullough, kept his momentum going with a stunning first round KO of submission aceToby Imada to advance to the Bellator lightweight tournament finals.

Freire started the first round with patience, establishing his leg kicks early while picking and choosing his spots to fire off his big right hand.

Imada looking to close the distance, leaned in with his head down, and Freire capitalized, firing off a flying knee that put Imada out on his feet. Freire pounced on the staggering, but still-standing Imada, finishing him off with a three punch combo that finally put him on his back, leaving Imada unconscious on the mat.

It was a brutal finish that resulted on Imada being carried out on a stretcher. Fortunately, Imada regained consciousness a short time later.

Freire (9-1 MMA, 2-1 BFC) advances to the finals, and will face the winner of the upcoming Michael Chandler vs. Lloyd Woodard bout which will take place at Bellator 40 next Saturday.

Ben Saunders destroys Matt Lee

Ben Saunders looked like he was starring in a horror flick instead of making his Bellator debut Saturday night. The former UFC welterweight tested the toughness of Matt Lee in a bloody one-sided battle that was all “Killa B.”

Saunders wasted little time in the first round, punishing Lee with his trademark knees from the thai clinch. When he wasn’t decimating Lee with knees, Saunders landed straight, clean right hands that rocked the bloodied Lee throughout the opening frame.

It was more of the same through the second, and after a near doctor stoppage before the third, a Saunders elbow opened up yet another gash that flowed blood. This time the fight was stopped, and Saunders (9-4-2 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moved to 1-0 under the Bellator banner.

Bellator 39 quick results:

MAIN CARD

Eddie Alvarez def. Pat Curran by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)
Rick Hawn def. Lyman Good by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Patricky Freire def. Toby Imada by knockout (strikes) Rd 1 (2:53)
Ben Saunders def. Matt Lee by TKO (doctor stoppage) Rd 3 (1:24)
PRELIMINARY CARD

Local Feature Fight: Greg Rebello (185.5 lbs.) vs. Dan Cramer (185.5 lbs.)
Ryan Quinn def. Mike Winters by unanimous decision )30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
David Jansen def. Scott McAfee by submission (brabo choke) Rd 1 (4:58)
Rene Nazare def. Luiz Azeredy by TKO (injury) Rd 1 (5:00)
John McLaughlin def. Blair Tugman by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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