Bellator Season 5 Road to the Championships

November 3, 2011

Season 5 of Bellator Fighting Championships concludes later this month. The season has produced incredible moments, and the best may be yet to come. Four tournament finals, three events, two world champions and one lightweight title fight are around the corner. Before the Road to the Championships airs this Saturday night on MTV 2 and showcases how the fighters advanced in each of the tournaments, we recap the finest moments of the season.

Knockout of the Season: Alexis Vila def. Joe Warren via knockout (punch) – round 1, 1:04 at Bellator 51.
When the season 5 bantamweight tournament was announced, Joe Warren's name filled the headlines. The polarizing Bellator 145-pound champion was slimming down 10 pounds in his quest to become the first Bellator fighter to simultaneously hold two world titles in different weight classes. Alexis Vila had no intention of being a stepping stone. With pre-fight trash talk escalating to a new high come fight week, Vila wasted little time once the cage door was shut. "The Exorcist" cracked Warren early in the fight and never let him think about mounting one of his patented comebacks. When Vila's left hook landed flush on the jaw it turned the lights off before Warren hit the mat, leaving fans with one of the best one-punch knockouts in bantamweight history.
Honorable mention: Douglas Lima def. Chris Lozano via knockout (punch) – round 2, 3:14 at Bellator 53.

Submission of the Season: Ben Saunders def. Luis Santos via submission (keylock) – round 3, 1:45 at Bellator 53.
Entering their semi-final fight, most were expecting a stand-up war between Luis Santos and Ben Saunders. Famous for his vicious knees, Saunders showed continued maturation in his overall game as he dominated the Brazilian on the ground through two rounds. Heading into the final frame ahead on the scorecards, "Killa B" had no interest in coasting to a decision win. The American Top Team standout grabbed a hold of Santos' arm and cranked on his elbow until he tapped. Saunders notched his 12th career win and fifth by submission, securing his place in the finals.
Honorable mention: Alexander Shlemenko def. Zelig Galesic via submission (guillotine) – round 1, 1:55 at Bellator 50.

Comeback of the Season: Alexander Shlemenko def. Brian Rogers via technical knockout (strikes) – round 2, 2:30 at Bellator 54.
In the middleweight semi-finals, Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brian Rogers was a power vs. power fight. The only guarantee in this fight was that the judges wouldn't be needed. In the first round Rogers seemed well on his way to continuing his streak of first-round knockouts, as he had Shlemenko on shaky legs. The Russian survived the first and pressed forward in the second. After several brutal exchanges, Shlemenko had Rogers in trouble and went in for the kill. A barrage of punches and knees led to a TKO victory midway through the second round in one of the biggest nail-bitters of the season.
Honorable mention: Eric Prindle def. Abe Wagner via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at Bellator 52.

Shocker of the Season: Vitor Vianna def. Bryan Baker via technical knockout (strikes) – round 1, :54 at Bellator 54.
After a razor thin decision went his way in the quarterfinals, Vitor Vianna entered his semi-final match determined to leave the judges out of the equation. Facing Bryan Baker, a previous tournament runner-up, Vianna was a sizeable underdog coming in the fight. Despite having renowned jiu-jitsu skills, pundits thought Baker's wrestling would be too much for the Wand Fight Team BJJ coach. It took less than a minute for the Brazilian to prove them wrong. Realizing his opponent wasn't paying much respect to the striking of the 2nd degree black belt, Vianna seized an opening and connected with an overhead right. Baker dropped and Vianna immediately pounced, finishing him off with a series of hammer fists.
Honorable Mention: Eric Prindle def. Ron Sparks via KO (punch) – round 1, :40 at Bellator 56

Fight of the Season: Eric Prindle def. Abe Wagner via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at Bellator 52.
When Eric Prindle and Abe Wagner met in the heavyweight quarterfinals, the bout wasn't expected to last very long; the two entered with a combined 13 first-round finishes. Fans were instead treated to a 15-minute tilt which perfectly defined back and forth. Wagner got the fight to the ground early and mounted Prindle in round one. After some wild scrambles Wagner almost secured an arm bar and closed the round using his hand speed to wobble Prindle. The former Army boxing champion fired back in the second and his power and crisp striking took over. He dropped Wagner, got on top and forced Wagner to fight off several submissions before the round ended with both fighters fishing for ankle locks and heel hooks. Tied up going into the third, Wagner tried to get the takedown but Prindle sprawled and got on top. He blended submission attempts with ground and pound, remaining on the offensive for most of the third. When the final bell rang, Prindle's big shots gave him the win. It may not have been the most technical, but it was one of the most dynamic and entertaining heavyweight fights of the year.
Honorable Mention: Eduardo Dantas def. Ed West via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28) at Bellator 55.

For all of the best moments thus far from Bellator season 5, be sure to catch Road to the Championships this Saturday, Nov. 5 at 11/10c on MTV 2.