Bellator 36 marked the opening round of the promotion’s season four lightweight tournament. The participants included Bellator veterans Toby Imada and Carey Vanier, as well as former WEC lightweight title holder “Razor” Rob McCullough. The action took place from Shreveport, LA and aired live on MTV2.
“Razor” Rob McCullough vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire
The final fight of the evening (and main event) featured Brazilian Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (the older brother of season 3 featherweight runner-up Patricio Freire) and former WEC champion “Razor” Rob McCullough.
“Pitbull” opened with a lightning fast combination that backed up McCullough. The pair exchanged on the feet, and Freire rocked McCullough and mounted the veteran. McCullough rolled and Freire took his back. Blood poured from McCullough’s nose and Freire locked in a rear-naked choke. McCullough escaped and pressed himself against the cage. With a minute left in the round, McCullough rolled into the guard of Freire, but was met with an armbar attempt. McCullough returned to his feet as Freire remained on his back on the mat as the round closed.
The middle stanza opened with more big shots from Freire. McCullough answered with variety of kicks, but continued to eat punches. The fighters continued to exchange on the feet, trading both kicks and punches. Freire landed a takedown with a minute remaining in the round. Freire moved to the mount and then transitioned to the back against the cage. McCullough rolled through and landed in the closed guard of Freire. McCullough rained hammerfists as the bell sounded to end the round.
McCullough opened the final round showing his Muay Thai arsenal, but Freire countered the strikes. “Pitbull” landed a spinning back kick, but little damage to McCullough. Big left hook from Freire landed. Massive right hand from “Pitbull” buckles McCullough and the referee waives off the fight after a few hammerfists on the mat.
The fight ended at 3:11 of the third round. The Brazilian Freire becomes a semifinalist in the tournament.
Josh Shockley vs. Toby Imada
In an unexpected matchup in the lightweight tournament, veteran Toby Imada battled last minute replacement Josh Shockley. Shockley replaced Ferrid Kheder who failed to make the 155 lb. weight limit.
Shockley opened the fight by showing his significant reach advantage. He clinched and locked up a body lock on the judo black belt Imada. Shockley took the fight to ground and Imada threw his legs up and locked in an armbar. Shockley rose to his feet and slammed Imada against the mat, clearly damaging his own arm in the process. Shockley yelled in pain.
The referee stepped in and waved off the bout due to a verbal submission at 1:19 of the bout’s first round. Imada again moves on to the semifinals of the lightweight tournament (for the third time). On yet another submission victory, “I’m looking for whatever opportunity there is; find an opening and take advantage.”
Carey Vanier vs. Lloyd Woodard
The night’s second televised bout featured another tournament battle as Bellator veteran Carey Vanier faced undefeated Lloyd Woodard.
The fighters immediately clinched, and Woodard unleashed knees to the body of Vanier. Against the cage, Vanier went for a takedown, but was stuffed by Woodard. Woodard landed a big kick to the body. Vanier worked hard for a takedown yet again, finally landing a big slam two minutes into the round, but Woodard scrambled back to his feet. Both fighters exchange from the clinch, and Vanier again failed to bring the fight to the ground. More clinch work as the round ended.
In the second round, Woodard dropped Vanier with a big left hook and followed him to the mat. Vanier attempted to stand, but ate a big knee to the body and Woodard rained down punches to force a TKO stoppage.
Woodard moves on to the second round of the tournament. The official time of the stoppage was 0:46 of the second round. The former semi-pro boxer now improves to 11-0. Making a humorous reference to Rocky, Woodard proclaimed, “This is the greatest moment of my life. Yo, Adrian!”
Michael Chandler vs. Marcin Held
The opening fight of the tournament featured 19-year old Marcin Held and undefeated wrestler Michael Chandler.
Chandler charged in immediately, eating shots on the way in, but secured a takedown. Held quickly locked in a kneebar, but Chandler refused to tap. Held transitioned for toe hold, but Chandler escaped and began to deliver big shots from inside the guard of Held. Held demonstrated an active guard, throwing his legs up for triangles and armbar attempts, but Chandler utilized his strength to power out of each submission. From the half guard, Chandler quickly moved to an arm-triangle and moved to side control. Held desperately tried to survive by grabbing his own leg, but the choke proved too tight for the young fighter as he went unconscious.
The official result was a technical submission at 3:56 of the first round. Chandler moves on to the semifinals of the lightweight tournament. In his post-fight interview, the former Missouri Tiger wrestler was quick to credit his young opponent, but declared, “I promise you that I will win this tournament.” A bold claim for the now 6-0 fighter.
Chad Leonhardt defeats Kelly Leo by TKO (corner stoppage), Round 2, 5:00
Kevin Aguilar defeats Matt Hunt by TKO (strikes), Round 1, 3:02
Booker Arthur defeats Javone Duhon by Submission (strikes), Round 2, 2:31