-The show opens with a highlight of TUF veterans who have made their name in the welterweight division out of the show. Then a quick highlight introducing Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson. Fights will be moving fast and furious tonight, so I'll have quick thoughts on some, more complete thoughts on others depending on how they air throughout the night.
-We're back to the Mandalay Bay for the elimination fights as they did with season 14. A couple of the guys commented on the feeling to be walking into the arena and into that Octagon. White gives everyone the speech about how big of an opportunity this is for all of them.
-Nelson tells the fighters how important it is just to get into the house, and White disagrees with just doing anything to win, saying he wants to see exciting fights and fighters. This Nelson-White feud will either be entertaining or unbearable throughout the season.
FIGHT 1: DOM WATERS VS. KEVIN NOWACZYK
-Waters knocked Nowaczyk down early with a left uppercut that should have stopped it immediately, but the ref allowed Nowaczyk to absorb a ton more punishment before it was stopped.
WINNER: Waters moves into the house with RD 1 KO
FIGHT 2: LEV MAGEN VS. MICHAEL HILL
-Nothing much happened in the first minute, but after the tentative start, Hill popped in with a wild left hook that knocked Magen down and out. He landed one extra strike as the ref was on him.
WINNER: Hill moves into the house with RD 1 KO
FIGHT 3: BRISTOL MARUNDE VS. GEORGE LOCKHART
-Marunde fought Jacare Souza in Strikeforce last year on short notice.
-Marunde and Lockhart each had some nice punches land in an early exchange, with a battle on the cage dictating the action. Lockhart worked fairly well with damage against the cage, getting in a nice flurry of punches to the body. Marunde then locked on a tight guillotine choke in a sprawl, rolled it over, and Lockhart tapped just before going out. Nice instincts on the sub, but he wasn't having a great round before that.
WINNER: Marunde moves into the house with RD 1 submission (guillotine choke)
FIGHT 4: JASON SOUTH VS. MIKE RICCI
-Ricci showed good defense on the cage early in avoiding a takedown and breaking free. Then he landed a nice straight punch that knocked South down. South tried to scramble, then Ricci got his back and earned a TKO with a nice string of punches from the back. They're playing up Ricci's clean-cut look in opposition to his fighting game, with White calling him "The Stockbroker," but he looked good against South. Ricci was Pat Curran's first Bellator victim back in 2010, and at the time was billed as a "protege" of Georges St-Pierre. He's got a new opportunity here, and he looked good in this fight.
WINNER: Ricci moves into the house with RD 1 TKO
FIGHT 5: JULIAN LANE VS. DIEGO BAUTISTA
-We only got highlights of this bout, meaning it went longer than many of the others. Dana White didn't like the fight that much, saying neither of the fighters wanted it, and said Lane won by an "absolutely boring, and horrifying decision.
WINNER: Lane moves into the house with a decision
FIGHT 6: CORTEZ COLEMAN VS. IGOR ARAUJO
-Coleman gassed out in the second, lost the round, then got choked out in the third. White talked up Coleman's talent, but coming in out of shape cost him the fight, and he was submitted late because of it.
WINNER: Araujo moves into the house with RD 3 submission (triangle choke)
FIGHT 7: JAMES CHANEY VS. JEREL CLARK
-Chaney pulled guard and immediately went for a triangle choke. Clark tried to fight out of it, but Chaney worked well off his back and finally forced the tap after holding the submission tightly. Nice ground work from Chaney.
WINNER: Chaney moves into the house with RD 1 submission (triangle choke)
FIGHT 8: ZANE KAMAKA VS. CAMERON DIFFLEY
-Diffley was a jiu jitsu coach for Forrest Griffin's team in season seven, then moved on to MMA after the fact.
-Kamaka reversed after being taken down, but Diffley then scored a slick armbar to get a verbal tap. We'll have a couple guys with submission skills this season, at least.
WINNER: Diffley moves into the house with RD 1 submission (armbar)
FIGHT 9: FRANK CAMACHO VS. NEIL MAGNY
-Camacho came out very aggressive, and after getting clinched he landed some sick shoulder strikes to the jaw before scoring a takedown. He moved to mount, then quickly got Magny's back. Magny scrambled out, though, then scored his own takedown briefly. Wound up being highlights as the round stopped abruptly. White gave the round to Camacho.
-Magny scored an early takedown in round two. Camacho lost his mouth guard and tried to replace it as he was getting hit. Magny landed a few big strikes after Camacho got back to his feet. Magny landed more strikes as he opened up. He had a significant reach advantage. Camacho faded as White said "this one's going to sudden victory."
-Magny got control on the ground in the third and beat a tired Camacho up pretty badly for awhile. Camacho went for a desperation choke but Magny got free and continued landing strikes. He ultimately rode out the final seconds in mount to take a decision. Nice comeback after what was a nice first round from Camacho.
WINNER: Magny moves into the house with a unanimous decision
FIGHT 10: RICKY LEGERE, JR. VS. JON MANLEY
-More quick hit highlights for this fight. Carwin called it an evenly matched fight. Nelson called it a slow, wrestling-type match. Dana White said they stunk the place up, fighting a "s***" fight. He said it goes along with what Nelson thinks about just winning, when no, it's not enough to "just win." White wanted to just bring two new guys in to get a shot, but alas, Manley enters the house with a decision.
WINNER: Manley moves into the house with a decision
FIGHT 11: COLTON SMITH VS. JESSE BARRETT
-Smith did a fake touch glove to score a takedown. Dick move. Dana White called it another back and forth match. More highlights here. Smith moves into the house with a decision as well.
WINNER: Smith moves into the house with a decision
FIGHT 12: MATT SECOR VS. MAX GRIFFIN
-Secor relentlessly went for a takedown, then got Griffin to engage on the ground. He nearly locked on a knee bar but Griffin got losse and to his feet. Secor tried to pull guard to no avail. Secor continued to bring the fight to the ground, then nearly caught Griffin in a triangle. Griffin this time started landing strikes and backed away. He landed a knockdown punch, then went for his own choke as the round ended.
-Secor tried to land a spinning kick and he was rewarded with a punch to the face. He spun with a back fist before moving in with a takedown. He got Griffin to the ground, then moved to mount. These were more highlights, as they advanced quickly to the end. Fight went to a sudden victory round.
-Secor scrambled nicely after a failed shot and got on top. He moved quickly to mount and landed a few strikes. Secor went for an armbar and Griffin tried to defend. He did, and wound up on top. Secor then got on a triangle choke and forced the tap. Secor was relentless with the submissions despite getting outworked in a lot of the other spots in the fight, and he scored the win.
WINNER: Secor moves into the house with RD 3 submission (triangle choke)
FIGHT 13: DAVID MICHAUD VS. EDDY ELLIS
-More "performance highlights." From the commentary by Carwin, and White, Ellis won the first round. Then Ellis locked up an arm triangle from the bottom! That's interesting. He rolled to the side to score the submission win.
WINNER" Ellis moves into the house with RD 2 submission (arm triangle choke)
FIGHT 14: SAAD AWAD VS. JOEY RIVERA
-Even more highlights. White criticized a stalemate in the second round of the fight, and said it was an unexciting grappling match.
WINNER: Rivera moves into the house with a decision
FIGHT 15: NIC HERRON-WEBB VS. TIM RUBERG
-Ruberg rushed in to grab a clinch, and brought the fight to the ground with a nice throw off the cage. The fight stalled for awhile from there, though. They both battled for a bit before Herron-Webb grabbed for a kimura and fought hard to pull it loose. He turned it to an armbar as Ruberg tried to roll through, and he forced the tap.
WINNER: Herron-Webb moves into the house with RD 1 submission (armbar)
FIGHT 16: SAM ALVEY VS. LEO KUNTZ