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MMA Weekend Wrap: UFC Contenders and Bellator Kicks Off Tournament

A busy two days in MMA have come to a close, so before you start watching NFL games get a quick recap of all the MMA action that took place this weekend.

Florida based fighter Brad Pickett got a huge win with his knockout of Yves Jabouin. Pickett scored a superb upper cut to knock Jabouin down and showed off his ever improving skill set. While Pickett's nickname is "One Punch" early in his career that was largely a smoke screen, while he certainly had knockout power Pickett was primarily a grappler. Pickett's trainers at American Top Team have done a fantastic job helping him become a well rounded fighter, who is a threat to finish fights on the feet or on the ground.

Heavyweight Stefan Struve got a big win over another rising Heavyweight Stipe Miocic. The biggest knock on Struve has been his striking defense as his biggest losses have come by knockout. But now Struve has four stoppage wins over powerful strikers. Struve, despite being seven feet tall makes very limited use of his massive reach and allows fighters to close distance on him with no resistance. Improvements are coming in baby steps for Struve, but he threw better kicks at range and actually threw straight punches at times. Struve is also an effective inside fighter, a rarity for fighters as long as he and on top of that he is a very savvy grappler. Struve acknowledged the work still needing to be done with his striking and he still has a lot of time to continue to develop into a real heavyweight contender.

The UFC prospects on the card had a mixed night of results. Newcomers Jimi Manuwa and Gunnar Nelson both looked excellent in their UFC debuts. Manuwa put a sever beating on former ASU football player Kyle Kingsbury, forcing a doctor's stoppage when Kingsbury left eye swelled shut. Nelson easily out grappled DaMarques Johnson in his match and won by choke.

However two prospects with UFC experience suffered their first losses inside the Octagon. English grappling wizards Paul Sass had the tables turned on him as Matt Wiman submitted him and John Maguire lost a tepid fight against his friend John Hathaway. While set backs the jury is still out the impact on either fighter's career, losses are not uncommon in MMA and it is more about how fighters respond to them.

In the first round of the Bellator tournament aggressive Eastern European styles reigned supreme as Russians Andrey Koreshkov and Michail Tsarev, and Lithuanian Marius Zaromskis all won in impressive fashion. While young fighters from this part of the world often have prestigious offensive skills they often lag behind when it comes to defensive abilities and struggle when faced with well rounded fighters with more MMA experiences. While they all preformed well, there was nothing there to suggest any of them have anything more a slim chance against Lyman Good, who totally shut down Jim Wallhead.

Good is clearly in the driver's seat of this tournament. Bellator will announce the second round in the coming weeks, but expect them to preserve Good and Zaromskis for a possible finals match.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.