Pat Curran celebrates while Joe Warren is tended to. (Bellator)
HAMMOND, Ind. -- Bellator's season six started with a new champ, a terrible stoppage, and four featherweights getting closer to challenging for the belt.
Joe Warren started with a nasty takedown, and from the start, his wrestling controlled most of the bout. Curran's one big moment in the first round came when he knocked Warren down with a head kick, and followed it up with several strikes on the ground, but Warren survived. When Curran tried a flying knee, Warren used it for a takedown. Warren had more takedowns and control in the first round. Action slowed in the second round, as Warren was able to get takedowns, but not hold Curran down.
After Curran's corner told him he was down two rounds, he came out in the third round with full intent to end the fight. Curran's bevy of strikes put Warren against the fence. The fence was the only thing holding Warren up as he withstood several shots from Curran. The fight went on much longer than it needed to, and was finally stopped at 1:25 in the third round.
Warren went to the hospital after the bout. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said he was complaining of nausea and also had a hand injury. Rebney also said he was surprised the stoppage wasn't sooner.
"Watching it live and again on tape, yeah, it could have been stopped earlier," Rebney said.
"I knew I had him hurt. I could see in it in his eyes. They could have stopped it a little sooner."
Warren's last fight was a quick knockout, which caused Curran to think Warren couldn't survive many strikes. Though Curran won, he was impressed with Warren's chin.
"I was impressed with his chin and his heart. I thought he was going to have a glass jaw after that."
In earlier action in the featherweight tournament, Daniel Straus and Jeremy Spoon had a back and forth battle that went the full three rounds. Straus showed good takedown defense on his way to a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision win.
Hometown fighter Mike Corey stole the first round with a strong last thirty seconds, taking down Ronnie Mann and throwing several punches. Mann was saved by the bell. That turned the momentum in Corey's favor for the rest of the fight, as he used ground and pound to brutalize Mann on the way to a three-round decision win, 29-28 on all three judges' cards. Corey had taken the fight on short notice after Wagnney Fabiano was injured.
Marlon Sandro moved on n the featherweight tournament by landing punch combos and knees, then choking out Roberto Vargas at 3:35 in the first round. Afterwards, he celebrated by donning the centurion helmet and shield shown in Bellator's logo.
Alexandre "PoPo" Bezerra punched his ticket to the featherweight semifinals by making choking out Kenny Foster in the first round. After battering Foster for much of the round, Bezerra applied a rear naked choke with less than 10 seconds left in the round. Foster tapped as soon as it was applied, giving Bezerra the win at 4:57.
After the fights, Rebney announced the semifinals will pit Sandro vs. Bezerra and Straus vs. Corey.