On Friday, June 6, Bellator MMA kicked off its annual Summer Series by hosting its 121st event from the WinStar World Casino Thackerville, Okla.

On the night’s main card, former Bellator heavyweight title challenger Eric Prindle welcomed well-traveled veteran James Thompson to the Bellator cage. Prindle looked to right the ship after dropping four of his last five outings. Thompson, meanwhile, was riding a wave of momentum. The British fighter had put together a five-fight unbeaten streak following a miserable 3-12 run that dated back to 2005 and the days of Pride FC.

In addition to the Prindle-Thompson affair, the main card also featured former UFC fighter Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who made his promotional debut as he took on Terry Davinney.

Also on the card, the promotion kicked off its next light heavyweight tournament as Austen Heidlage faced Philipe Lins, Carlos Eduardo took on Egidijus Valavicius, and Kelly Anundson squared off with UFC vet Rodney Wallace.

The 11-fight event kicked off with seven preliminary card bouts streaming live on Spike.com. The four-fight main card aired live on Spike TV beginning at 9 p.m.

Bellator went back to tradition and chose a tournament fight as the main event of this Summer Series opener. Philipe Lins continued to be one of Bellator’s rising stars in this light heavyweight tournament battle against Austen Heidlage. Lins took Heidlage down early and went to work on his jiu-jitsu. Heidlage worked to his feet, but Lins had already locked on a body triangle and had Heidlage’s back. Lins worked for a choke and he got the tap less than three minutes in to end the night.

James Thompson followed up the greatest pre-fight hype video of all time by quickly dispatching of Eric Prindle. Thompson took Prindle down shortly after the opening bell. Prindle defended briefly, but once Thompson began to open up with his ground-and-pound Prindle turtled up and the referee stopped the fight.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou turned back the clock and put on a performance worthy of some of his early career hype in his Bellator debut. From the start of the fight it was clear that Sokoudjou had a power and strength advantage over his opponent, Terry Davinney. Sokoudjou landed a very hard leg kick early on that got Davinney looking for a takedown. Davinney eventually got the fight to the ground, but he was reversed fairly quickly. Once Sokoudjou was on top his dominance really began. Sokoudjou reigned down vicious punches. Davinney was nearly stopped from those punches, but in the end he was forced to tap when Sokoudjou locked in a rear-naked choke.

Two foreign born fighters kicked off the main card as Lithuania’s Egidijus Valavicius was the stronger fighter in the latter half and advanced in the light heavyweight tournament with a split decision victory over Brazil’s Carlos Eduardo. Valavicius had to get better throughout the fight after a rough first round. Eduardo scored a takedown almost immediately and was in positional control for nearly the entire first round. Eduardo was able to take the back but couldn’t lock up a submission. In the second round Valavicius began to take over. He was clearly the fresher and more comfortable fighter in the striking game. Valavicius scored with multiple right hands and the most damage he took in the final two rounds was a cut on the eyebrow when the two fighters accidentally clashed heads in the second round. Valavicius didn’t let it bother him at all and even turned up the volume in the third round to secure his victory.

James Thompson def. Eric Prindle by TKO (punches). Round 1, 1:55
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou def. Terry Davinney by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:16
Philipe Lins def. Austen Heidlage by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:45 – light heavyweight tournament opening round
Egidijus Valavicius def. Carlos Eduardo by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)- light heavyweight tournament opening round
Kelly Anundson def. Rodney Wallace by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)- light heavyweight tournament opening round
Joe Vedepo def. Cortez Coleman by majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Stephen Banaszak def. Treston Thomison by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 4:56
William Florentino def. Guillermo Martinez Ayme by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Steve Garcia def. Cody Walker by knockout (punch). Round 1, 0:39
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel def. Matt Jones by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Ray Sloan def. Jamelle Jones by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 0:48

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.