Posts Tagged ‘Bryan Baker’
Now that he is in with “Storm,” a “Beast” and a “Predator,” Vitor Vianna is going to need a catchy nickname.
Vianna and three others punched their respective tickets into the semifinals of the Season 5 middleweight tournament at Bellator 50 on Saturday at the Seminoles Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko, Bryan “The Beast” Baker and Brian “The Predator” Rogers won to join Vianna in the round of four.
Vianna was the first to advance, edging Sam Alvey via split decision, with all rounds scored 29-28. The protegee of Wanderlei Silva had a rough debut against Alvey (15-3, 1 NC), who seemed to be the choice of the fans after the completion of the fight.
“This guy, Sam Alvey, he’s a tough guy,” said Vianna. “I did my best, I knew it was a close fight. I worked hard in this fight, I had a year without a fight. I’ll come back better next time.”
Vianna (11-1-1) had been off since October 2010, and had only two fights that year. He was away from MMA matches for all of 2009 and 2007.
Alvey had won four straight and 10 of his previous 11 decisions, with one no contest. His last three fights have ended in a split decision.
Shlemenko (41-7) won his stand-up battle with Zelg Galesic (10-6), but somehow did it without throwing a single one of his trademark spinning back-strikes.
The expected result was that the fight lasted 1:55 and it was decided on the feet. What was unexpected was that Shlemenko did it via submission, with a standing guillotine that forced Galesic to tap and then heel-climb the fence to alleviate more vicious neck pressure.
Shlemenko has won four straight fights and 10 of his last 11, with the only loss coming in his title shot against Lombard, who trains at American Top Team in nearby Coconut Creek and was sitting cageside. Shlemenko beat Baker for the Season 2 middleweight tournament title to earn his bout with the champ.
Baker (16-2) emphatically showed how much he is looking to avenge that defeat and finally get his shot at Lombard by taking out Jared Hess with ground strikes at 2:52 of the third round in a hard-fought main event.
Baker is in full remission of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), which was plaguing him at the time of his Season 2 meeting with Shlemenko, although he had not gone public with his condition at that point.
Hess (11-3-1) had never been finished, outside of injury and doctor’s stoppage. It was his second fight back since a gruesome knee injury felled him in the Season 2 middleweight tournament semifinals.
Hess had Baker in trouble with a rear naked choke submission attempt in the early going, but Baker escaped and kept Hess on the defensive thereafter. Hess appeared shaky on his feet for the first couple of rounds and consistently tried to keep the fight on the ground. Despite his perceived advantage on the mat, it was Baker who was able to secure the fight comfortably by getting top position in the third and then finishing it off with continued ground strikes.
“That’s what I came here to do,” said the newlywed Baker, who was supported by the wife to whom he proposed in the cage after his most recent Bellator fight, in May against Joe Riggs. “That’s my ultimate goal (to fight Lombard), and I would like to get my revenge match against Shlemenko, so we’ll see what happens.”
While Bellator moves to Akron, Ohio for event No. 51 next Saturday, Rogers beat Victor O’Donnell in a match between a pair of fighters from the Buckeye State.
The end drew the night’s bit of controversy, as referee Troy Waugh waved off the contest at 1:56 after Rogers stunned O’Donnell with a right hand and then began peppering him with ground strikes. As Waugh stepped in, it appeared O’Donnell was about to stem the tide and had a hold of Rogers’ right wrist.
O’Donnell’s ire was immediately evident in his eyes. Rogers was just glad to advance.
“Stuff happens, but hey, Google, me, I have seven first-round stoppages,” said Rogers (8-2), whose did note that those stoppages have all come in a row. ”I was trying to finish and clip him. Honestly, I was surprised the ref stopped it, but I’ll take it.”
While the main card was aired two hours earlier than normal on MTV2 in regular definition and Epix2 in high definition, the undercard was streamed internationally on Spike.com and featured the inspirational Rad Martinez.
Martinez earned a unanimous decision victory over Bryan Van Hoven in a lightweight fight. Martinez has been profiled on ESPN’s Outside the Lines for his sacrifice in taking care of his incapacitated father.
In sickness and in health, Bryan Baker sure knows how to make a headline. Or at least how to steal one from the main event fighters.
Baker stole the show Saturday at Bellator 43 when he knocked out veteran Joe Riggs then proposed to girlfriend Megan Vargas inside the cage at the First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla and in front of the cameras of MTV2.
Baker shined brightly before the headlining match dulled things. It went to Jay Hieron in a controversial split decision over Rick Hawn in the Season 4 welterweight tournament final. Hieron, as the winner of the tournament, collected $100,000 and earned a shot at champion Ben Askren.
“Askren, shine up my belt for me, I’m coming for it,” Hieron said, mirroring the comments Askren made to then-champion Lyman Good after beating Dan Hornbuckle to earn his own shot.
In addition to his opponents, Baker (15-2) battles chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) by taking an expensive daily pill called Gleevec. With the leukemia in remission since Fall, the 25-year-old Baker’s career is back on the move. He reached the finals of the last middleweight tournament in Bellator after his diagnosis, making his CML a well-kept secret on the way. Now open about his condition, Baker has tallied wins over a pair of veterans in Riggs and Jeremy Horn. Baker appears to be a lock for Bellator’s next middleweight tournament.
In his post-fight interview on MTV2 with Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith, Baker initially talked about his just-completed fight.
“That’s exactly what I was looking for,” Baker said. “To get in … and finish. I knew once I had him hurt, I stayed within my reach, and did not let him execute his game plan while I executed mine.”
Baker had the edge in a close first round, then began to tag Riggs with combination punches in the second. It was a stiff left to the chin that sent Riggs down and out at 3:53 of the second round. Baker stood over the prone Riggs (34-13, 1 NC) and did not deliver further punishment, allowing referee Jason Herzog to call off the bout and sportingly sparing his opponent unnecessary damage.
What came next was closer to the reality show programing that is a staple of the network.
“I hope and pray, will you marry me?” Baker asked Vargas in the cage, and she accepted.
When Hieron and Hawn took the cage, they waged a fight almost entirely standing up. Hawn aggressively pursued his opponent around the cage, while Hieron consistently circled and fought while backing up.
After a pair of very close rounds that made the fight an apparent toss-up headed to the third, Hawn seemingly took control, finding and cutting Hieron’s face with a consistent jab. Neither fighter appeared to hurt the other throughout the duration of the bout. Hieron (22-4) got the nod in his 10th straight win, and he has not lost since falling to Brad Blackburn on June 1, 2007.
“Hard work pays off,” Hieron said. “I live by that. I stay in the gym no matter what’s going on my my life.”
Hawn, a 2004 Oympian for the U.S. Judo Team, lost for the first time in 12 career MMA fights.
Ron Sparks (7-0) kicked off the televised portion of the main card by scoring a submission win over Vince Lucero via a keylock at 2:18 of the first round in a battle of heavyweights. It was the first career submission win for Sparks, who has five knockouts. Lucero fell to 19-20-1 with his fifth straight loss and is 0-7-1 in his last eight fights. The fight was elevated to the MTV2 broadcast because the match between Neil Grove and Zak Jensen was scrapped due to an injury by Grove.
Former WEC bantanweight champion Chase Beebe qualified for the Season 5 bantamweight tournament by submitting Jose Vega (9-5) with a guillotine choke at 4:06 of the first round. Beebe (18-7) is still just 26 years old, having won the WEC belt from Eddie Wineland over four years ago. He appeared dead set on the guillotine from the opening bell, trying for it continuously until finally sinking it in and eliciting the tapout. Six of his 15 submissions have come by guillotine.
Fighters battle through adversity in the gym and during their whole careers. The fight for a living, so fighting is in their personality, but when Bryan Baker was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) he knew he had a whole new fight on his hands.
“For anyone who doesn’t know my story, it was a bumpy road,” Baker admitted to Joe Rizzo on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Leukemia or injuries or whatever it takes will not stop me as who I am as a fighter within myself.”
After conquering the debilitating disease, Baker is feeling like a new man.
“I feel great,” said Baker. “It’s a new life at this point in my career to show how strong and how powerful I can become, not having to battle demons and I can totally concentrate. I’m excited to show that my life inside of me shines so much brighter than anything stopping me on the outside. I’m going to show greatness of who I am and that’s what it’s done for me; it shows how much of a fighter I am from the inside. “
Baker realizes other people go through similar setbacks in life all the time, and the Bellator middleweight lends a hand for those who need it. The illness was depressing at times, but in light of all of it Baker now finds himself in scenarios he could have never thought would happen.
“It’s taken me into areas I could have never imagined,” said Baker. “From all different angles, whether it be telephone or emails or Facebook. My doctor was talking with this patient who had testicular cancer and he heard my story, and he’s a fighter as well. We connected with him and it’s been crazy how much of an inspiration shined through. I want to continue that. It’s a blessing that I have the responsibility to show people that no matter what your body may endure or trials you go through in life, you’re able to correct it to the fullest. Its crazy that I can affect people in so many different ways”
The Bellator fighter uses the will power that got him through those rough times to improve his all around MMA game. Though the threat was serious, Baker did not once stop believing that he would return to the cage, even better than he was when he left.
“It’s not more pressure, it’s more impressing myself.” Baker explained. “It’s kind of showing how strong I really am. My coach, my trainers, my teammates and listening to their stories and what they seen through their eyes about (me, impresses myself of what I did and what I did push myself through. It’s never been in my mind to stop and not show who I am, so it helps look back on the fighter I am, and I impressed myself.”
While Baker is impressed with himself, the matchmakers at Bellator must feel the same. He is coming off a unanimous decision victory over long time journeyman Jeremy Horn, and now Baker meets another veteran in Joe Riggs at Bellator 43. Baker appreciates fighting bigger names such as those two and he feels that is the level of competition that will prove his worth.
“I get to show my athleticism and my youth,” Baker admitted. “Jeremy Horn was a veteran and Joe Riggs does have a lot of fights, but they’re letting me show off this new youth coming into the MMA world. That’s how the game has always evolved, me being 14-2 and Joe Riggs is 32-12, is going to show what has came into the game during that time.”
Baker will find his fight against Riggs no where nearly as concerning as the demons he has faced outside of the cage. After persevering through a life-threatening disease and battling back to the Bellator cage, Baker is could not be more content.
As he simply put is, “Everything is as perfect as it can get.”
Rear Naked Choke Radio was back with a special Thursday edition as Joe Rizzo flew solo from LA Boxing in Paramus, N.J.
Former Bellator middleweight tournament finalist Bryan Baker came on and talk about his match Saturday at Bellator 43 against Joe Riggs. Bryan also has an amazing story about a bigger fight, the one he wages every day against leukemia.
MMADieHards.com writer Jason Kelly joined in to give a Canadian’s perspective on the happenings in and around UFC 129. Jason chronicled some of it recently in The Toronto Impact.
Jacob Nuesser of FightChix gave an update about the amazing UFC Fan Expo in Toronto.