The quarterfinals of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament have wrapped up as four tournament participants have advanced to the semifinal round. Maiquel Falcao, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, Bruno Santos and Brian Rogers all earned dominant victories at Bellator 61 from The Horseshoe Riverdome in Bossier City, Louisiana LIVE on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX.
The Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Semifinals will take place at Bellator 66 from the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio on April 20. Ohioâ€™s own Brian Rogers will face Bruno Santos, while Maiquel Falcao will battle Vyacheslav Vasilevsky.
â€œIâ€™ve been saying this for a long time, this is the strongest group of middleweights weâ€™ve ever had in any tournament and theyâ€™ve proved it tonight,â€ Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. â€œI want to thank the great fight fans in Louisiana for coming out again and supporting Bellator, and I want to thank our fighters for putting on another fantastic show.â€
In the main event of the evening, knockout artist Maiquel Falcao was looking to display his dominance in his Bellator debut while Bellator veteran Norman Paraisy was hoping to spoil the first fight for â€œBig Rigâ€ in the U.S. since 2010. While Paraisy landed some significant shots over three rounds, Falcao appeared to land the more devastating strikes that had the Frenchman hurt on several occasions. Content on keeping the fight standing, Falcao battered Paraisy with strikes to the body and the head for the majority of the last two rounds. When the final bell sounded, Maiquel Falcao earned a much deserved unanimous decision victory and a spot in the Bellator Season Six Middleweight Tournament semifinals.
With the win, Maiquel Falcao improves his record to 29-4 and earns just his fourth decision win in 33 fights. Norman Paraisy loses for just the second time in his professional career, both coming inside the Bellator cage.
â€œI was thinking about the knockout,â€ Falcao said. â€œI was trying hard. Heâ€™s a tough guy. Iâ€™ve always been a fan of Norman Paraisy. The important thing is I got the win. I want to thank Bellator for giving me a chance to come back.â€
Owning a 14-fight unbeaten streak, 23-year-old Russian phenom Vyacheslav Vasilevsky was aiming to make a statement in his U.S. debut; and Season 5 Middleweight Tournament participant Victor Oâ€™Donnell was looking to erase the memory of his last fight against fellow tournament participant Brian Rogers. While the first round proved to be a competitive affair, â€œSlavaâ€ showed in the later rounds exactly why he is touted as one of the top middleweight prospects in the sport. Vasilevsky viciously attacked Oâ€™Donnell both standing and on the ground. Oâ€™Donnell displayed an enormous amount of resiliency as he tried to evade the surging Russianâ€™s assault. However, the power and precision proved to be too much for Oâ€™Donnell as all three judges scored the fight unanimously for Vyacheslav Vasilevsky.
With the victory, the once-beaten Vyacheslav Vasilevsky earns his first win under the Bellator banner and moves on to the semifinal round of the Bellator Season 6 Tournament. Oâ€™Donnell, who loses for the second time in the quarterfinal round of a Bellator middleweight tournament, falls to 11-4 in his professional career.
â€œI want to thank all the American fans who came out today,â€ Vasilevsky said. â€œI plan to keep it exciting and put on a great show for everyone. Thanks to all my coaches for this victory.â€
Bellator Middleweight Tournament participants Giva Santana and Bruno Santos made it well known what their game plans were heading into their quarterfinal fight. Nicknamed â€œThe Arm Collector,â€ the submission specialist Santana was looking to add another arm to his collection while Santos, 16 years the junior of the 40-year-old Santana, was counting on keeping the fight standing. Through the first two rounds, the majority of the action was spent on the feet with both fighters landing hard shots. However, Santos turned it up in the final frame as he landed the more damaging strikes, looking to leave a lasting impression in the mindsâ€™ of the judges. When the judges rendered their decision, all three scored the fight as a unanimous decision for Bruno Santos.
With the unanimous decision victory, Bruno Santos moves on to the semifinal round of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament and remains undefeated at 13-0 in his professional career. Giva Santana loses for just the second time in 19 career fights as a professional fighter.
â€œI trained very hard for this fight,â€ Santos said. â€œI was able to follow my strategy and get the win tonight.â€
In the first quarterfinal fight of the Bellator Season Six Middleweight Tournament, excitement was in the air as Bellator veterans Vitor Vianna and Brian Rogers were expected to bring fireworks when they squared off. The fight started with both men exchanging on the feet, however, Vianna soon made it known his intentions of bringing the fight to the ground. Rogers, showing excellent takedown defense, preferred to keep the fight standing where he was at a distinct advantage. Rogers rocked Vianna with a right cross and followed up with a highlight-reel flying knee that sent the Brazilian Vianna to the canvas. Referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop the fight at 4:14 of the first round and give Brian Rogers the knockout victory.
Brian Rogers improves his record to 9-3 with all wins coming by stoppage and advances to the semifinal round of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament. Vianna, who drops his second fight in a row, falls to 12-3 in his professional career.
â€œIâ€™m a finisher,â€ Rogers said. â€œThatâ€™s what I do. Thatâ€™s my third flying-knee knockout â€“ Google it. I throw it and youâ€™re not going to stop it.â€