All punts aside, Bellator needs to kick off a woman’s tournament.
As its fifth season came to a close at Bellator 59 on Nov. 26, there was only one chapter left to be closed: the heavyweight tournament.
Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith (Twitter:@JimmySmithMMA), who is an MMA professional himself with a very respectable 5-1 record, gave the fans a fighter’s perspective of what was happening in the cage.
Starting his Bellator career in its second season, Smith’s insightful commentary has proven him a top MMA media personality. Being involved with combative sports from a young age, Smith has seen a lot and gave his viewpoint of how the heavyweight tournament ended, in a bizarre no contest when Eric Prindle could not continue after a groin shot from Thiago Santos.
“The nature of the foul is weird,” Smith told Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “They weren’t up against the fence throwing knees where that kind of stuff happens all of the time, but he was on his back and Santos threw a flagrant nut shot. It was just surreal, not just the circumstances of the fight, but the way that the foul itself happened. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
During the early minutes of the first round while Prindle was on his back, Santos delivered a full-power kick to Prindle’s private area, but later claimed that he was attempting to kick him “in the butt.” As a result, the fight was no contest. Prindle went to the hospital, Santos to the post-event press conference. They’ll meet for the title, likely at the first event of Season 6, on Friday, March 2.
While Smith believes that Santos is not a dirty fighter, he does not understand the final ruling in the cage.
“Well, I don’t know if he should or shouldn’t have been (disqualified),” Smith said of Santos. “But I was just really surprised that they didn’t call it a flagrant and disqualify him.
“That is not a place to kick somebody. When you kick someone in the butt it doesn’t help you during a fight, so the explanation he gave doesn’t really make any sense when you look at what happened. That’s not going to hurt anybody. You bruise up his legs and kick the thighs. There are a lot of areas to kick there, other than the butt.”
With the MMA community’s constant focus on consistency in judges’ decisions and referees stopping a bout at the right time, it seems as of late there is another problem to add to this list. Consistency in producing the correct call from foul situations in the cage has proven to be a problem. For instance, the previous week in Bellator, Jonas Billstein was disqualified for an illegal soccer kick to the head of downed opponent Herbert Goodman.
“This is the exact same type of situation where the fighter got disqualified because his opponent couldn’t continue fighting as a result of the foul,” Smith said. “Then we see another flagrant foul, the guy can’t continue and we get a no contest. I think the problem is, as with the Santos vs. Prindle fight, is the way those situations are handled is not consistent. You never know how the referee or the commissions are going to react to it.”
On the flip side of the equation, it turns out that a fighter can also come out victorious after committing an illegal blow.
”Dennis Hallman vs. Frank Trigg,” Smith remembered. “We see Trigg back in the WFA kick Hallman in the nuts. Hallman couldn’t continue and they end up giving the fight to Trigg. It is just not handled with any consistency and it’s turning out to be a problem.”
While there are still issues with officiating, it seems that there are also still issues with the depth of woman’s MMA. With promotions like Bellator trying to develop divisions and champions for woman’s MMA, there are still difficulties keeping a divisional tournament for the sixth season of Bellator.
“Number one,” stated Smith, “I do support that Bellator should have a woman’s tournament. The main difficulty with women’s MMA is that there are very few competitive divisions. Look at (Cris) Cyborg, they’re having trouble finding opponents for her for one fight, not to mention putting eight women together for a tournament. That’s the trouble we’re having.
“Bellator needs to find eight women that are outstanding, competitive, and can make one weight class. I think that when that falls together and we’re able to reach that compromise with weight, I think that it’ll be a great tournament.”
One thing is guaranteed, fans will go nuts for a Bellator woman’s tournament. No pun intended.