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Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo Preview

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On Saturday, May 14, Bellator MMA hit the SAP Center in San Jose, California for Bellator 154. The event is headlined by a light-heavyweight contest between Phil Davis (15-3) and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (19-4) and features three other main-card bouts.

When Phil Davis signed with Bellator MMA in April 2015 it opened up a number of intriguing matchmaking possibilities. This was not a fighter on the slide with his best days behind him, but a genuine top 10 light-heavyweight who held wins over Alexander Gustafsson, Lyoto Machida, and Glover Teixeira.

Bellator’s 205-pound division was already packed with talent, and the signing of Davis turned it into arguably the promotion’s marquee weight class. Homegrown standouts such as Emmanuel Newton, Linton Vassell and Liam McGeary complimented more recognised names like Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar and, eventually, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson after the latter resolved his contract disputes and returned to the company in February 2016.

Shoehorned somewhere in the middle was Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. A former Strikeforce champion with greater notoriety than Bellator’s emerging forces at 205, but with much more left to give than some of Bellator’s other ageing superstars. Lawal was far and away the most interesting and competitive opponent that Bellator could offer up for Davis to face.

A clash between the two almost came to fruition back in September 2015 when both Davis and Lawal won their semi-final matches in a one-night tournament in San Jose, California. Sadly, as fans of the sport have seen for as long as it has existed, single-night extravaganzas rarely go to plan. Lawal was forced to pull out due to a rib injury picked up in the semi-finals, as Davis was left to smash his way through alternate Francis Carmont to win the tournament belt.

The disappointment was rife that night, but looking back now it might have been the best thing that could have happened for Bellator. Since then Lawal has gone on to win the Rizin FF Heavyweight Grand Prix, extending his winning streak to seven in the process. Davis meanwhile has sat patiently waiting for his next Bellator outing and finally has the perfect opponent. Two high-profile tournament champions colliding in a marquee fight that carries relevance for the future of the light-heavyweight division.

That is not to say that everything else has gone to plan for Bellator in putting this card together. A well built lightweight tussle between Bellator’s premiere homegrown talent Michael Chandler and former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson was scrapped when Thomson pulled out injured on May 2.

Worse than that, one of the sport’s most impressive rising stars Jordan Parsons, was the victim of a hit and run on May 1. Tragically Parsons, who was scheduled to fight Adam Piccolotti at the event, passed away on May 4. He was only 25 years old.

Piccolotti (7-0) is now facing Ray Wood (7-1) while Andre Fialho (6-0) and Rick Reger (7-1) join them for a welterweight clash. Completing the main card is a potential barnburner between Evangelista Santos (21-16) and Saad Awad (18-7).

A PRIDE and Strikeforce veteran who embodies everything memorable about the Chute Boxe Academy, Santos has had unforgettable battles with Nick Diaz, Melvin Manhoef and Jordan Mein and many, many others in his near-20-year career. He made his Bellator debut last month with a shocking 30-second submission of Brennan Ward.

Saad Awad is a former Bellator tournament finalist who holds a win over current lightweight champion Will Brooks. After winning three straight inside the Bellator cage through 2014-15, Awad’s momentum was halted when he lost to Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 141 in August 2015.

The full card for Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo is as follows:

Main Card:

  • Phil Davis vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal
  • Ray Wood vs. Adam Piccolotti
  • Rick Reger vs. Andre Fialho
  • Evangelista Santos vs. Saad Awad

Prelims:

  • Mark Dickman vs. Thomas Diagne
  • Jeremiah Labiano vs. Josh San Diego
  • Jorge Acosta vs. Joshua Hardwick
  • Jaimelene Nievara vs. Stephanie Frausto
  • Doyle Childs vs. Sam Spengler
  • Steven Gruber vs. Josh Paiva
  • Martin Sano vs. Danasabe Mohammed
  • Anthony Taylor vs. Victor Jones
  • Andres Alcantar vs. Nick Pica
  • Sean Tucker vs. James Chapman

For up to date MMA news, live event coverage, and more, follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter

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Saad Awad talks Zach Freeman, kickboxing, 165 lb division and more ahead of Bellator 186

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Long-time Bellator veteran Saad Awad takes on Zach “the Pico slayer” Freeman at Bellator 186. Awad is currently coming off of a unanimous decision win over Ryan Quinn back at Bellator 178. Awad looks to beat top prospect Freeman in an attempt to go on a two-fight winning streak, in a stacked lightweight division.

Speaking with MMA Latest, Awad let it known he believes Freeman has the better ground game. “I think he’s a solid fighter, pretty durable, obviously better on the ground, so I know I just have to be sharp, and be precise with my striking, and get ready for a good ground game.”

Freeman made his name by beating Bellator’s hyped prospect Aaron Pico back in June, Awad had the chance to give his thoughts on the fight. “I thought it was good, I thought it was a fast win, but he didn’t shy away from it, he didn’t let Pico come in and impose his will, he struck back when he needed to, and dropped him, and got a nice submission.”

With every win helping fighters get closer to a title shot, it’s unclear whether or not Awad is close to a title shot, but he hasn’t given up hope. “I’ve been with Bellator since 2012, I think, or 2013 and I haven’t got a title fight yet so I don’t know man. To be honest, it’s on Bellator and on me to go out there and preform. So I need to win as many fights as I can, so I can go out there and win it.”

For a long time, Awad has been known mostly as the man who knocked out former Bellator champion Will Brooks. Awad believes he’s moved past that fight and more importantly, has moved on from that title. “Definitely at the time I was that guy and I feel like Zach Freeman is that guy for Pico because Pico was pumped up, obviously more than normal. I had that title for a while, but Will Brooks did go off and win a title right after he lost to me, so he had his name buzzing for a while. I definitely think I’ve moved on from that and I’ve beaten some really good guys after that, and I’ve had some really good wars since that fight. I’ll never let one fight dictate who I am and I’m glad I’ve moved past that”

Awad comes into the fight back in the win column and up against an up and coming opponent, Awad details the amount of pressure he’s on. “You know what I always put pressure on myself. Whether I’m winning or losing, because at the end of the day you want to win, whether you’re coming off of a loss or you’re coming off a win. If you lose, you lose, and that’s it, you lost, so there’s always expectation with me and yeah if this time I lose, I could possibly get cut if I lose this one, because I just won my last one and I’m not trying to have a win one, lose, win one, lose one. So there’s still that pressure to perform, especially being that Zach has only one fight in Bellator and I’m probably ten fights in. So I do have some pressure behind me.”

Awad was unable to watch the Henderson-Pitbull fight, lucky, but he did have a theory on why it went the way it did. “You know what I didn’t even watch it, normally I watch all the lightweights but I missed that fight. I read it online, people were complaining saying they both weren’t doing as much, but I understand why Henderson probably wasn’t doing as much, because Patricky hits pretty hard and usually when someone hits pretty hard, you don’t want to go out there with that person and mix it up, because you don’t want to get knocked out. I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened, but I know it could’ve happened. So I take nothing from them because they’re both really good fighters and he won a split decsion so it was obviously close enough for them to go to a split decision.”

Awad also spoke about whether he preferred lightweight or welterweight, and why Bellator should consider a 165-pound weight class. “Honestly man I hate cutting weight. I hate cutting weight but I feel like I’m one of those guys that like if there’s a 165-pound weight class, that would fit me the best. I’m a huge lightweight but I’m a small welterweight, not small but I don’t cut that much weight like my normal walk around weight is probably 165 so you know I’m not the biggest welterweight so I prefer 165 if they added that weight class. If Bellator gets that weight I’d probably be one of the first in line to fight for it.”

With Bellator’s recent splurge on free agents and former UFC fighter’s, Awad believes it’s only helped make Bellator stronger. “I think its cool. No matter where they come from at the end of the day we’re fighters and whether we get cut or we opt to get out of our contracts, it’s because we want to make money, we want to get paid as much as we can, and sometimes we feel like we’re not respected and, were not getting paid what we think we’re worth. So sometimes you have to get out of a contract whether it’s with the UFC, ONE FC or Titan wherever the hell they’re at, or Bellator even. They leave because they want to get paid more. Even if they lost a couple fights, guys can have bad nights and they lose a couple and get cut. It doesn’t mean the guys suck. They could have had something going on or they just have bad match-ups and those guys could be still just as good and dangerous as they were when they first started. So I think nothing of them, I don’t look down on any of the fighters that come here, whether they were cut or opted to get out. At the end of the day, they’re still fighters so there’s respect for their abilities.”

Awad has also been training with Duane Ludwig ahead of this fight. “You know what Duane used to train with my coaches back in the day, I think back in ‘99, 2000 and so they have a really good relationship. He was out in Colorado and we had some teammates that would train with him. Now he’s back out here in Cali, so now we have some teammates going out and mixing it up with them. I’ve only met him once but the dude brings a different aspect to training and for me training with them I would definitely like to train with him more because, like I said, it opened up a whole new book in the chapter of training. I’ll definitely look forward to learning his style of standup because I think it would be good. I’m a big fan of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and boxing, and that’s how I’m going to end being the best I can possibly be, so I think that can add a lot to my arsenal.”

Speaking of kickboxing, Awad has also shown interest in participating on Bellator’s kickboxing cards. “You know what I did ask them, it kind of got shunned away because they’re keeping me busy with MMA. If they cant keep me busy next year I’ll definitely ask them to put me on one of those cards.”

Saad Awad takes on Zach Freeman on November 3rd, at Bellator 186. MMA Latest would like to thank Saad for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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