Bellator 43′s “Knockout of the Night”: Bryan Baker

While there weren’t any implications that a win over one another would clinch a future tourney spot, both Joe Riggs and Bryan Baker both knew the gravity of their middleweight match-up.

Riggs, a veteran of both Strikeforce and the UFC, is arguably one of the more notable acquisitions that the Bellator brass has made in recent memory. Despite having been bounced around some of the larger promotions in the last couple of years, Joe has proven that on any given day he has the skills beat just about anybody out there.

However, such was not the case when “Diesel” stepped inside the cage against Baker last Saturday, when the the Judoka in Baker was able to deftly put an end to Riggs’ promotional debut in a definitive matter.

After a tentative first-round where both Joe and Baker felt each other out for first 5-minute round, the two finally began to open up in the second stanza. After a few takedown attempts were thwarted by Riggs, a man who is often regarded for his punching power, Baker worked his opponent against the fence.

Clinching with Joe, Bryan threw several knees to the body that were answered by short hooks on the inside from Riggs. Once separated, Baker began to open up and eventually collapsed Joe to the mat with a short left-hook. Bryan stood over his opponent waiting for the referee to intervene and call a halt to the bout, which he did with just under four-minutes clocked in the second-round.

Many suspected that Baker would utilize his superior ground game to take Riggs where he was weakest, though Bryan proved that the threat of his grappling prowess only made him that much more dangerous and was eventually able to beat Joe at his own game. The victory has earned Bryan the highly-unofficial “Knockout of the Night” award, thought the momentous victory was later trumped when “The Beast” proposed to his girlfriend inside the cage. She said yes, which commentator Jimmy Smith joked that the would-be-finance should feel no added pressure since they were broadcasting live on MTV2.

The win extended Baker to a two-fight streak since his loss to Alexander Shlemenko in the finals for the 185-pound tourney last June. He could very well find himself back in the tournament bracket, though nothing has been announced as of yet.

UPDATE (6:09 EST PM): Sherdog.com reports that with the win, Baker has now secured his spot in the upcoming season-five tournament.