Bellator 99 kicked off tonight, which featured an exciting featherweight bout between Justin Wilcox and Akop Stepanyan. Both fighters were eager to move on through this featherweight tournament for a chance at the champ, Pat Curan.
Wilcox took this fight on short notice, and he had to cut a tremendous amount of weight for this bout in order to make the featherweight limit. He did, and both fighters put on an exciting fight from start to finish. Wilcox was rocked and battered in this fight, where Akop was able to showcase his dynamic kicking game. Down but not out, Wilcox took Akop down in the second, and he was able to lock up a rear naked choke, putting Akop to sleep.
This was an amazing comeback fight for Wilcox, proving he is one of the most durable fighters in the featherweight tournament. Wilcox showed true grit and heart in this fight, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as he was on a two fight losing streak. Now, Wilcox continues on in the featherweight tournament alongside great fighters, such as Patricio Pitbull and Diego Nunes.
Wilcox is one of the best wrestlers under the Bellator promotion, and it certainly helps when you train alongside Josh Koscheck, who is one of the better wrestlers in MMA. After the first round, Koscheck told Wilcox that he had the toughness to keep going, and this confidence was exactly what Wilcox needed. Tonight showed that he still needs some work in terms of his stand up ability, but he still has some time to grow as a fighter. Congrats to Justin Wilcox on the impressive finish.