On Friday, Oct. 11, Bellator hosted its 103rd event from the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kan.

The event, which aired live on Spike TV, featured the semifinal round of the promotion’s season nine featherweight tournament. In one half of the ladder, former tournament winner and title challenger Patricio “Pitbull” Freire battled fellow Brazilian Fabricio Guerreiro to move one step closer to redemption against current champion Pat Curran. The second pairing featured Strikeforce veteran Justin Wilcox against Joe Taimanglo.

Also on the main card, former lightweight tournament winner and title challenger David “Caveman” Rickels looked to bounce back from his knockout loss to champion Michael Chandler as he battled J.J. Ambrose in front of a hometown crowd. Rounding out the televised portion of the event, veteran light heavyweights Aaron Rosa and Mikhail Zayats faced off with each fighter hoping to earn a spot in the promotion’s next 205-pound bracket.

The four-fight main card began at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV. The remaining six fights streamed live on Spike.com

“Pitbull” tops Guerreiro to earn spot in featherweight final

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Fabricio Guerreiro to earn a spot in the featherweight tournament finals.

There was a feeling out process to begin the main event of the evening as neither fighter threw a strike, until they clinched nearly a minute in. “Pitbull” was able to reverse a trip attempt from Guerreiro and end up on top.  Freire was able to advance to mount, but Guerreiro was able to push him off and briefly return to the feet. “Pitbull” decided to take the fight right back to the ground, but he had to defend a leg lock attempt from Guerreiro. Freire spent the majority of the final minute looking to land punches from half guard.

Guerreiro looked to land a head kick at the beginning of the round, but “Pitbull” easily moved out of the way. Freire closed the distance again and clinched with Guerriero. Referee John McCarthy had enough of the clinching against the cage and separated the two Brazilians. Freire went right back to his game plan, however and pressed Guerreiro against the cage, but he was not very offensive and the referee broke the two fighters up again. “Pitbull” finally began to open up on his feet and landed a solid right hand towards the end of the round.

Freire again looked more aggressive on his feet to start the final frame. This time Guerreiro is the one who looked for the takedown. He briefly completed it, but “Pitbull” reversed and landed a takedown of his own. Freire continually looked to pass to the full mount, but Guerreiro was able to lock him up in his half guard and eventually get back to his feet. “Pitbull” still had ahold of Guerrerio’s back on the feet and was able to get the fight back to the ground without the fighters even being separated.  It looked very similar to the rest of the times this fight went to the ground. Freire was able to pass to half guard, but was unable to get to full mount. Guerreiro got back to his feet and looked to be very aggressive in the final minute, but was caught with a left hook coming in.

Wilcox too much for Taimanglo, earns trip to featherweight final

Justin Wilcox used takedowns and top control to defeat Joe Taimanglo in a featherweight tournament semifinal.

Taimanglo came out running to the center of the cage to begin this fight. Wilcox backed him up briefly, but Taimanglo stayed the aggressor. Taimaglo looked like he might have a d’arce choke on a scramble, but Wilcox was able to escape unscathed. After multiple attempts to close the distance, Wilcox was finally able to take Taimanglo down halfway through the round. Wilcox looked to set up an arm-triangle choke from half guard, but was unsuccessful. Wilcox instead stayed content with top control and landed some ground and pound, but the damage was minimal.

Taimanglo attempted a spinning back kick at the offset of round two. Taimanglo looked to stay outside and land his looping power strikes. Taimanglo was able to defend Wilcox’s first takedown attempt and keep the fight standing. Taimanglo took advantage and was able to land two straight left hands, but Wilcox timed the takedown well and the fight went to the ground. Wilcox started off in side control, but Taimanglo was able to recover back to half guard. Wilcox looked to take Taimanglo’s back on a scramble, but Taimanglo shook him off and got back to his feet. Taimanglo’s success was brief as Wilcox took the fight right back to the ground and ended the round in half guard.

Wilcox got the takedown much earlier in the final round. He scored it on his first attempt only fifteen seconds in. Wilcox looked to take the back once again, but Taimanglo was quickly able to reverse back to half guard. Wilcox continued to look to pass guard and lock up an arm triangle choke, but Taimanglo defended well and was able to neutralize Wilcox’s attack. Taimanglo was able to neutralize the attack of Wilcox, but he wasn’t able to mount an attack of his own and ended the fight on his back on the receiving end of punches from Wilcox.

Rickels batters Ambrose

David Rickels was fueled by a hometown crowd on his way to a third-round TKO of J.J. Ambrose.

Rickels threw a front kick to the face that missed to start the fight. Ambrose landed a solid right hand as he closed the distance and pressed Rickels against the cage.  Rickels defended two takedowns against the cage before he created distance. “Caveman” connected with a push kick and a flush right hand that stunned Ambrose. Ambrose was able to go for another takedown against the cage, but Rickels backed him off with a left hand. Rickels was then able to take Ambrose down. Rickels landed an elbow and was then able to take the back of Ambrose. Rickels attempted to switch to the full mount but Ambrose was able to reverse and end up in Rickels’ guard to end the round.

Rickels landed a solid left hook ten seconds into the second frame that backed Ambrose up a bit. Unlike the early stages of the fight, Rickels pressed forward and Ambrose was against the cage. Rickels threw a knee to the body, but it was caught by Ambrose, who was able to take Rickels to the ground. Ambrose looked to land ground and pound from the full guard, but Rickels tied him up long enough for the referee to stand the fighters up. Rickels dropped Ambrose with a body kick and looked to finish with furious ground and pound. Ambrose was able to survive and briefly put Rickels on his back. “Caveman” was able to get back to his feet and tripped Ambrose up with a leg kick. Rickels landed some good punches to the body on the ground as the second round came to an end.

Rickels pressed the action to begin the final round and landed two leg kicks and one to the body. Ambrose was then able to once again take Rickels to the ground briefly. Rickels did just how he did in the second and pushed Ambrose off with his feet. Rickels landed a solid right hand and Ambrose immediately shot for a takedown that Rickels defended. Rickels ended up in an odd inverted triangle position on top Ambrose in a sprawl position. Rickels used that position to unload body shots. Ambrose was unable to defend himself and the referee stepped in.

Zayats taps Rosa

Mikhail Zayats rebounded from a tournament final loss to submit Aaron Rosa in under one minute.

Rosa took the center of the cage to begin this light heavyweight bout. Rosa closed the distance but was taken down by Zayats. Zayats quickly looked for a kimura and was able to lock it up and earn the submission.

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire def. Fabricio Guerreiro by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) – featherweight tournament semifinal
Justin Wilcox def. Joe Taimanglo by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) – featherweight tournament semifinal
David Rickels def. J.J. Ambrose by TKO (body punches). Round 3, 2:37
Mikhail Zayats def. Aaron Rosa by submission (kimura). Round 1, 0:47
Ricky Musgrave def. Cody Carillo by submission (kimura). Round 1, 2:59
Jeimeson Saudino def. Jesse Thorton by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-8)
Donnie Bell def. Marcio Navarro by submission (neck crank). Round 1, 2:06
Maurice Jackson def. Matt Uhde by TKO (doctor’s stoppage, cut). Round 1, 0:52
Remy Bussieres def. Blake Pool by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Carlos Eduardo def. Wayman Carter by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:06

Photo: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.