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Beyond the Octagon – Bellator 135, WSOF 19, RFA vs Legacy

Bellator 135 - Galvao Vs Warren (Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com)
Photo: Marcos Galvao kneebars Joe Warren (D. Mandel/Sherdog.com)

Warren vs Galvao – New Champ Set For Rubber Match?

When Joe Warren and Marcos Galvao stepped into the Bellator cage on Friday night all questions were supposed to be answered. Warren had been awarded a contentious decision over Galvao in 2011 that had many screaming robbery of the year. Instead, the conclusion to the bantamweight title bout posed new questions.

After Warren had controlled the first round, an early scramble in the second saw Galvao grabbing a kneebar that was sunk in deep. The Brazilian cranked and tested the flexibility of Warren’s limb. The champion could do nothing but scream out in pain. In an instant, referee John McCarthy stopped the fight and we had a new bantamweight champion.

Previously we had wondered who was the better fighter, which man had improved the most since their first meeting in 2011, and what impact Warren might have on the UFC’s bantamweight division should he step inside the octagon.

The opportunistic manner of Galvao’s victory, and Warren’s reaction once the fight had been stopped, combined to pose new questions. Did Warren realize his vocal declaration of pain would force McCarthy to stop the fight? Was the referee right to wave it off and crown a new Bellator champion?

The second McCarthy stopped the fight and the hold was released, the self-proclaimed “baddest man on the planet” made it abundantly clear he thought the fight should be continuing. Warren argued, he shouted, he stomped around the cage throwing his arms into the air in disgust. When the official decision was announced, and McCarthy raised Galvao’s hand into the air, Warren refused to stand with them.

In his 16th career bout it is hard to believe that the, now former, champion didn’t know any better. Warren’s actions appeared histrionic, designed to leave doubt. They achieved their goal.

There is no other way to view it, because as he lay there on his back in the knee bar Warren looked bewildered. He made no attempt to get out of the hold. It looked as if he didn’t know how to. Once that expression was replaced by a painful, loud shriek there was no other option. Joe Warren was not going to break the hold, so John McCarthy did it for him. Even if you are duped into believing the fight was stopped early, the end was inevitable.

Lets not forget, this is not the first time Warren has acted in this manner. In 2009, he faced Bibiano Fernandes in the DREAM featherweight grand prix final. Fernandes had him laid face down in an armbar that would have snapped his arm in two. Warren had nowhere to go and the fight was stopped. His immediate protests overshadowed Fernandes’ achievement, just as he had attempted to do to Galvao’s on Friday night.

A third encounter to settle the score now seems likely. That may well leave Galvao, who will feel he has beaten Warren twice no matter what the judges declared back in 2011, feeling like the man who has been wronged.

There was a time when Joe Warren would have had to precariously work his way through an eight man tournament just to get a rematch. Thankfully that is no longer the case and Bellator can now book a third fight between the two.

The backstory has developed into something bigger and that makes Scott Coker’s job as the promoter of the fight even easier.

When the fight is booked and the promotional hype train sets off on its journey, just remember that unlike their first bout, there was no robbery when Galvao won the bantamweight title. Nothing was stolen from Joe Warren on Friday night, save a hyper-extended knee and torn ligaments.

Had “Big John” not stepped in to end the fight, there would be no quick rematch either. Early stoppages – which this was not – cost fights. Late stoppages can cost careers.

Justin Gaethje – Best Lightweight in the World?

Bellator isn’t the only company with a big show to promote on this non-UFC weekend. World Series of Fighting 19 airs on Saturday night, headlined by the lightweight title fight between reigning champion Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino.

Gaethje has been nothing short of impressive in the World Series cage, racking up 6 straight wins and pushing his career record to 13-0. What he has lacked is an opponent to drag him into the championship rounds and turn violent performances into memorable fights.

In the tough and unorthodox Peruvian, Gaethje may have finally found that opponent. The all-violence World Series of Fighting champion goes in as the favorite, but a five round war against a challenger who has no give in him can only help him gain notoriety.

Gaethje stated this week that he is the best lightweight in the world. That is something he can only prove by fighting in the UFC. By my reckoning, he could beat at least four of the current top ten. That wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

RFA & Legacy Co-Promotion

We also learned this week that the Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Legacy Fighting Championships will co-promote a card on Friday, May 8th.

Tentatively titled, AXS TV Fights: RFA vs Legacy Superfight, the show sees two of the more recognized regional promotions in the United States pit their fighters against each other. RFA’s Alexandre Pantoja will face Legacy’s Damacio Page in a main event ‘superfight’, while there are four other RFA vs Legacy bouts on the televised card.

The move gained traction for both promotions – at least until Brock Lesnar, Cris “Cyborg” Justino, and the Aldo/McGregor world tour grabbed all the fan attention back – which begs the question, why don’t we see more co-promotion within mixed martial arts?

Ego and insecurity appear to be the biggest stumbling blocks for putting together deals like this. There is always the danger that one organisation will come off as weaker than the other, or that a particular champion will see his value diminish as the result of a loss to another promotion’s star. It is a risk that few promoters are willing to take.

It is not easy for two promoter’s to accept they are on a similar level, and can benefit from putting together a show like this. Both the RFA and Legacy deserve a lot of credit for doing so.

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