Eddie Alvarez Bellator 66The rematch more than three years in the making finally culminated as former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and current Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki met in one of the most anticipated fights of the year. The finals of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight and Lightweight Tournaments are now set as Andreas Spang, Maiquel Falcao, Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman all moved on to their respective finals with impressive wins at Bellator 66 from the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the main event of the evening, Alvarez looked to avenge one of his previous three defeats when he met Japanese grappling sensation Shinya Aoki in one of the most high profile lightweight fights of the year. Almost immediately, Alvarez came out looking for the finish. After Aoki threw a left hand, Alvarez countered with a beautiful right that dropped the Japanese submission specialist. Seeing that Aoki was hurt, Alvarez dived in and unloaded vicious strikes until referee Jerry Krzys stepped in to stop the fight at 2:14 of the first round.

With the win, Alvarez improved his record to 23-3 and avenged the submission loss to Aoki over three years ago. Aoki, who loses for the sixth time in his career, dropped his first contest since 2010.

“Eddie Alvarez once again showed why he is one of the best lightweights in the world,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Andreas Spang vs. Maiquel Falcao has the makings of a spectacular fight in our middleweight finals, while Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman put on dominating performances. The sold out crowd here in Cleveland was absolutely electrifying, and I can’t wait to bring another Bellator event to this great city.”

For once-beaten Andreas Spang, the vision of one day fighting for the Bellator middleweight championship became less of a dream and more of a reality when Bruno Santos was forced out of the tournament due to an injury. However, hometown favorite Brian Rogers had other plans in mind. Through nearly a round and a half, both men unloaded a barrage of wild punches, flying knees and kicks that had the crowd at the I-X Center on their feet. Midway through the second round, however, Spang connected with a devastating left hook that put Rogers out for good.

With the technical knockout victory, Bellator newcomer Andreas Spang will now move to the final round of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament and improves his record to 8-1. Brian Rogers drops to 9-4.

Going into the first middleweight semifinal fight of the Bellator Season 6 Tournament, proven knockout artist Maiquel Falcao made known his intentions of keeping his fight against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky on the feet. “Slava,” known for his outstanding footwork and crisp boxing, hoped to build off his dominant unanimous decision win over Victor O’Donnell when he entered the Bellator cage Friday night. Despite securing several takedowns throughout the fight, “Slava” was unable to match Falcao on the feet. In the third and final round, Falcao landed plenty of strikes that had Vasilevsky attempting to clinch and avoid trading punches. After three rounds, the fight went to the judges. All three judges scored the fight in favor of Falcao.

With the unanimous decision victory, Falcao earns his 30th win and now meets Spang in the finals of the Bellator Season 6 Middleweight Tournament. Vasilevsky drops to 16-2 in his professional career.

There was an in-cage altercation between Spang and Falcao after Spang’s victory. Rebney, at the post-fight press conference, acknowledged that it was his understanding that there may be a fine or fines forthcoming from the Ohio Athletic Commission, but didn’t believe the pushing and shoving would result in a suspension.

Coming off a major victory over Patricky “Pitbull,” Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard was looking to move one step closer to a rematch with Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler, while Rick Hawn was seeking his second win at his new home of 155 pounds. The first round was a showcase for the judo that earned Hawn a spot on the 2004 Olympic Judo Team, while the second round provided the Cleveland faithful with the fireworks they’ve come to expect. Almost immediately, Hawn landed a devastating right hand that leveled Woodard, which caused the referee to stop the fight 10 seconds into the second round.

“I just had to play a smart fight,” said Hawn. “I couldn’t get sucked into his gameplan.”

With the technical knockout victory, Hawn moves on to the final round of the Bellator Lightweight Tournament and one step closer to a shot against Chandler. Woodard, stopped for the first time in his career, falls to 12-2.

In the first televised fight of the evening, a spot in the Bellator Lightweight Finals was decided as prolific kickboxer Thiago Michel looked to keep his momentum going when he faced dangerous Bellator veteran Brent Weedman. Throughout the fight, Michel had success showing off his proficient striking that earned him a World Kickboxing Championship. However, despite the obvious damage done to the eye of Weedman through the first two rounds, the former welterweight tournament participant was able to withstand the assault and take Michel down at will. Working his ground and pound, Weedman was able to dictate the fight until the final bell. After three rounds of hard-fought action, Weedman walked away with a split-decision win.

“I thought it was a close fight,” said Weedman. “All respect to Thiago Michel. One of the toughest opponents I’ve ever had.”

With the split decision victory, Brent Weedman improves his record to 20-7 and advances to the finals of the Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament against Rick Hawn. Thiago Michel loses for just the third time in his career as he falls to 10-3 in his professional career.

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