This week on Fight Master, the final four participants received their respective seeds in the tournament. Only Xtreme Couture head coach Randy Couture saw it coming, but his man Cole Williams earned the top seed based on his finishes in the tournament. Joe “Diesel” Riggs got the second slot, Eric Bradley the third, and Mike Bronzoulis claimed the fourth and final seed.

Williams got to pick his opponent, and Randy Couture let Williams know that he would not express a problem with Williams vs. Bronzoulis if Williams felt “The Greek” as the best option for him, but Williams instead opted for Riggs.

Semifinal 1: Cole Williams vs. Joe Riggs

Round one began with Williams aiming to close the distance on Riggs. He moved in and tried to make the most of the position, but couldn’t. Riggs separated and threw a mixture of knees and straight punches. Riggs clinched with Williams, working effectively from the position. Williams managed to close in on Riggs again in that latter minutes of the round round. Williams looked for Riggs’ back, but “Diesel” turned in to prevent Williams from improving his position. Riggs reset, with Williams pushing forward for the rest of the round, and the two separated before this very close opening round ends.

Round two opened better for Riggs, who unloaded with a few big kicks, but Williams brought the fight back down to the floor, where he wanted it. Riggs looked in perfect position to escape, but despite his open guard, Williams did not allow Riggs to move. Still, Williams did not land much, despite maintaining the dominant position. He remained there for the rest of the round, but coach Greg Jackson saw the bout in Riggs’ favor due to his own output from the bottom.

Round three saw Riggs open as busily as he did the second round, but Williams used the first minute to put Riggs on his back yet again. Eventually, Riggs freed himself and re-established his superiority in the standup. He mixed in his boxing with a well-placed knee, but slipped on a different knee attempt. Still, he prevented Williams from capitalizing and avoided any serious peril. Riggs sensed that Williams seems to start to fade, sticking a flurry of strikes in the final minute before sprawling out on another Williams takedown attempt.

After three hard-fought rounds, the judges disagree, but there was a winner. One judge saw the bout for Williams, while the other two see the bout in favor of the winner and the first Fight Master finalist, Joe Riggs.

Joe Riggs def. Cole Williams via split decision

Semifinal 2: Eric Bradley vs. Mike Bronzoulis

The fight began tentatively with Bradley aiming to close in on takedown opportunities and Bronzoulis trying to set up his counter-shots. Bradley feinted takedown attempts before pressing forward and finally forcing the action to the floor. Bradley controlled the bout from the top, mounting Bronzoulis, and keeping his back to the canvas. Bronzoulis first looked unsuccessfully to find a moment to posture and strike, and then attempted to create some distance, but it allowed Bradley to temporarily take his back, thus putting Bronzoulis in further danger. Bradley ended the round in the dominant position.

Bronzoulis opened up to start the second, but Bradley got back inside and again took the fight to the floor, where Bronzoulis did not want to be. Bronzoulis found Bradley clinging to the body as he looked to get up and Bradley enjoyed control of the action. Bronzoulis found himself unable to create space in order to capitalize after separating, and Bradley dove in again, but this time,  Bronzoulis sprawled and drove elbows to the back. Coach Jackson yelled about illegal strikes to the spine, but in any event, Bradley couldn’t hide his pain as Bronzoulis continued to lay in the heavy artillery. Bronzoulis elevated the heat, sensing that he needed the stoppage. Bronzoulis found the finish, booking his spot opposite Riggs in the finals.

Mike Bronzoulis def. Eric Bradley via TKO (strikes), Round 2

With $100,000 on the line and a Bellator welterweight tournament berth, only one man can emerge as the first Fight Master. However, when it comes time to throw down inside the Bellator cage, will Bronzoulis prove himself as that man, or will Riggs show why he never left the sport by earning his way into the Bellator welterweight scene? We will find out in a little over a week at Bellator 98.

Photo: Fight Master Logo (Spike.com)