Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

When I spoke with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney about the promotion's television deal with Fox Sports, I mentioned the problem of local sports teams pre-empting the fights. In my hometown of Chicago, for example, the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks all appear on Comcast Sports Net, the home of Bellator. In the spring, it's a rare night when one of those teams aren't playing. What would happen if fights and games were scheduled on the same night?

"The affiliates will all be fed Bellator Fighting Championships from Fox Sports national," Rebney said. "We can be delayed based on live sporting events. When the local sport ends, we get a great lead in from a hot baseball game or basketball game or whatever it is."

If a cable subscriber has more than one Fox Sports Channel -- as I do -- the fights were bound to be live on one of those stations, right?

Unfortunately, my experience tonight didn't gel with that scenario. Out of five Fox Sports networks on my cable package, the only station airing Bellator tonight was Comcast at 11 p.m. The fights weren't shown live because of a White Sox game. The Sox game went into extra innings, pushing Bellator deeper into the night. After the game finally ended, they still aired the postgame show. Then, they started the card already in progress, meaning Chicagoland viewers missed Georgi Karakhanyan's first round knockout of Bao Quach.

Even worse, I was not the only Bellator viewer to have this problem. However, this disappointing start to the new season of Bellator didn't take the luster off the night's fights. 

Huerta, Warren, Vanier earn semifinal berths

In his first non-UFC fight since 2006, Roger Huerta finished strong with with a submission of Chad Hinton, a previously undefeated fighter. Hinton gave Huerta a good fight, particularly in the first round. Hinton took Huerta down at will and even was close to taking Huerta's back near the end of the first round. Hinton came out throwing a bevy of strikes to start the second, but that flurry tired out Hinton.

The final round was all Huerta. He aggressively started the third with a flying knee. Hinton tried to grab Huerta for a takedown, but Huerta front-flipped so that he landed on top of Hinton. From there, he maneuvered so that he could throw down hammer fists but then took advantage of his position to finish the bout with a knee bar 0:56 into the third. This moves Huerta into the semifinal round in Bellator's lightweight tournament. 

Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Joe Warren used his grappling skills to win a 30-27 unanimous decision over Eric Marriott, a veteran Midwestern fighter. Marriott had a shot at an upset in the first round at first with an armbar and then a tight triangle choke that Warren lasted through for more than one minute. Warren used his world-class wrestling to contol Marriott throughout the rest of the bout, notching a win for Warren and a spot in the semifinal round of the featherweight tourney. Karakhanyan is also a featherweight semifinalist.

Warren wasn't the only wrestler to put his ground skills on display, as Carey Vanier wore down late replacement Joe Duarte with a late TKO. Vanier spent most of the third round ground and pounding Duarte. With 0:46 left in the bout, Duarte could no longer intelligently defend himself and the bout was stopped. Vanier now joins Huerta in the semis of the lightweight tourney. 

Check here for complete results of the season two premiere of Bellator. 

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