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Bellator 154 Results: Davis outpoints King Mo

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After improving his Bellator record to 3-0 on Saturday night, Phil Davis (16-3, 1 NC) has assumed the position many expected he would when he signed for the company in 2015. A unanimous decision victory over Muhammed Lawal (19-5, 1 NC) at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, saw him become Bellator’s number one contender at 205 pounds.

While two judges scored the bout 30-27, and a third turned in a scorecard of 29-28 — all three for Davis — the Bellator 154 main event was close and competitive throughout. In fact, while Davis was trying to keep his opponent at bay with kicks during the first two rounds, it appeared that Lawal was landing the more telling blows.

By the time the third round began, Davis had the fight all but won on the scorecards, but he had no way of knowing that when he began to work for a finish. Davis staggered the former Strikeforce champion with a right hand and uppercut before driving him to the mat. Despite Davis’ best efforts to finish, first with a kimura, and then with an armbar, Lawal would eventually escape to his feet.

Davis’ win sets up an intriguing future title bout with the UK’s Liam McGeary. For Lawal, defeat snapped a seven-fight winning streak that had seen him jumping between both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions with great success.

They say that lightening never strikes twice, a point that Evangelista Santos (21-17)was keen to prove wrong when he went for a leg lock in the first round of the co-main event against Saad Awad (19-7). Santos had shocked fans with a 30-second heel hook win over Brennan Ward in his Bellator debut last month, but this time, his opponent made him pay.

As Santos clung onto his opponent’s leg, Awad battered him with punches and hammer fists. By the time “Cyborg” gave up on the hold he was bloodied, and Awad was landing elbows. Referee Jason Herzog had no option but to stop the bout at the 4:31 mark in round one.

Awad has now won four of his last five in Bellator and holds a win over departing lightweight champion Will Brooks. With the news breaking that Michael Chandler and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire will meet for the vacant title later this year, Awad will feel he is now only one win away from challenging the victor.

Elsewhere on the card, it was all one-way traffic for Adam Piccolotti (8-0) against short-notice replacement Ray Wood (7-2). Piccolotti dominated the action on the mat before submitting his opponent by rear-naked choke at 3:17 in the first. The American Kickboxing Academy product now has four wins inside the Bellator cage, three by submission.

At bantamweight, Josh San Diego (7-1) was given the nod 29-28 on all three judge’s scorecards against Jeremiah Labiano (9-5). The win made it two straight — both inside the Bellator cage — as he has looked to rebound from his first career defeat against Rolando Velasco under the Tachi Palace Fights banner in August 2015.

Rounding off the main card at welterweight, Andre Fialho (7-0) scored the sixth first round victory of his seven-fight career. Fialho used his reach advantage to good effect, keeping opponent Rick Reger (7-2) out of range while landing effective shots from the opening bell to the finish. Two left hooks stunned Reger, before a hard right hand and the following uppercut dropped him. Fialho pounced, landing hammer fists before referee Ed Collantes could stop the bout.

Full Results – Main Card

  • Phil Davis def. Muhammed Lawal via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) R3 5:00
  • Saad Awad def. Evangelista Santos via TKO (Punches and Elbows) R1 4:31
  • Josh San Diego def. Jeremiah Labiano via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) R3 5:00
  • Adam Piccolotti def. Ray Wood via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R1 3:17
  • Andre Fialho def. Rick Reger via KO (Punch) R1 2:11

Prelims

  • Sam Spengler def. Doyle Childs via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) R3 5:00
  • J.D. Hardwick def. Jorge Acosta via Technical Submission (Guillotine Choke) R1 1:21
  • Jamielene Nievara def. Stephanie Frausto via TKO (Punches and Elbows) R3 2:43
  • Mark Dickman def. Ousmane Thomas Diagne via TKO (Punches) R3 3:05
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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Refereeing’s Loss is Bellator’s Gain

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When former Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith left the organization last week, not many expected MMA veteran referee, John McCarthy, to be his replacement. There is little doubt that McCarthy will make an excellent color analyst. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the sport is losing one of the best and most experienced referees.

McCarthy has been part of the fabric of MMA and the UFC in particular, since 1993. He was hugely influential in creating and enforcing the rules of the cage that have changed MMA into the respected sport it is today. Back in early to mid-nineties, the ‘sport’ was fairly labeled by some critics as ‘human cockfighting’. Without McCarthy as an instrumental player in changing regulations and rules, who knows where the MMA would be today.

What we have grown to appreciate most about McCarthy over the past two decades is how simple he makes this tough job look, which can be credited to years of experience and dedication. To the layman, it would appear that it’s a simple as stopping the fight when a fighter is knocked out or submitted. MMA fans know there’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s difficult to remember a moment in recent memory where McCarthy has let a fight go too long, or even stopped a fight too soon. His timing is almost always perfect. His composure and rationale in the cage are unmatched. When McCarthy is the third man in the Octagon we know the fighters are in safe hands.

It’s worth reiterating how important McCarthy is in maintaining the standard of referring and judging in the sport. The sport of MMA is still very young and is growing rapidly and so are the rules. The former LAPD police officer created his own training school known as C.O.M.M.A.N.D. The course teaches the next generation of MMA referees and judges, and there is no better person to be educated by. Referees must complete this or a similar course run by Herb Dean to be licensed as an official.

Former fighter Frank Trigg, who has pursued refereeing since his career wound down, has taken the course. He recently appeared on The MMA Hour to explain just how tough C.O.M.M.A.N.D is. It took Trigg three attempts to pass, emphasizing just how difficult a career path officiating is.

While ‘Big John’ as he is more affectionately known hasn’t completely left refereeing, he will likely no longer be seen in the cage at the biggest shows. The pool of referees trusted with the big title fights is rather small. Normally McCarthy and Herb Dean are tasked with the important title fights.

It’s not all bad that McCarthy is stepping aside for the time being. The likes of Mark Smith, Jason Herzog, and Chris Tognoni have all shown they are capable officials. There is now a great opportunity for them to move into the main event slots. There are also the likes of Yves Lavigne, Mike Beltran and Marc Goddard who can be trusted to referee the big fights.

While it is surprising, it’s understandable that McCarthy is looking for new career ventures. It is no secret that MMA referees are poorly paid relative to other sporting officials. Las Vegas often discloses referee pay when assignments are announced. The pay tends to range between $1000 and $2000 for the night. Trigg explained on The MMA hour that there is no money in becoming a referee and that most also have full-time jobs. McCarthy’s passion for the sport of MMA has been the biggest incentive for refereeing. It is totally understandable that he would take a bigger payday and put all his knowledge of the sport to good use in the commentary booth.

McCarthy will almost certainly be as dedicated to his new job as he was with his refereeing duties. He can also offer a fascinating insight into the officiating of a fight that nobody else can offer. If there wasn’t already an excuse to watch Bellator 192 on January 20th, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima, then there most definitely is now.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192

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Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.

The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.

This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.

Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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