Vegh needed all five rounds to strike promotional gold.
A stout right hand, a few well-timed takedowns and a heavy top game
spurred Vegh to a unanimous verdict over Christian
M'Pumbu, as he captured the Bellator MMA light heavyweight
crown in the Bellator
91 main event on Thursday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio
Rancho, N.M. Vegh (29-4-2, 5-0 Bellator) swept the scorecards with
48-47, 49-46 and 50-45 marks, as he registered his ninth
It was not pretty. The two light heavyweights spent much of their
25-minute encounter in a strategic stalemate, pawing at one another
with harmless jabs. Vegh was the aggressor, however, and repeatedly
pushed M’Pumbu backwards with right hands, one of which floored the
Congolese fighter in the first round. The Slovakian struck again in
round three, where he rattled M’Pumbu (18-5-1, 3-2 Bellator) with a
left uppercut, bullied him to the mat and eventually moved to a
mounted position, opening a cut on the side of the champion’s head
with a vicious elbow.
By the fourth round, fatigue had begun to set in on both men, and
M’Pumbu was reduced to desperate clinches and takedown attempts.
Perhaps sensing the title slipping from his grasp, the 35-year-old
made one final push in the fifth, but Vegh steered clear of danger
and rode out the decision.
Awad Springs Upset, Derails Brooks
Millennia MMA’s Saad Awad
needed less than a minute to dismiss the previously unbeaten
Brooks with first-round punches in the Bellator Season 8
lightweight tournament semifinals. Brooks (9-1, 1-1 Bellator) met
his surprising but decisive end 43 seconds into round one.
Awad teed off on Brooks in round one.
Awad (14-4, 2-1 Bellator) went right to work, staggering the
Chicago-based prospect with a pair of right hands. He swarmed with
more punches, shut down a desperate takedown attempt with unabated
hammerfists and finished Brooks with one last volley of
standing-to-ground blows. Awad has stopped his past six foes, five
of them inside the first round.
“As soon as I hit him and he grabbed me, I saw he was rocked,” Awad
said. “I just knew I needed to make space or he was going to
wrestle me down and recover, so I couldn’t stop until the ref
Rickels Outduels Replacement Fischer
Aggressive standup and an active top game carried David
Rickels to a unanimous decision over Jason
Fischer in the Bellator Season 8 lightweight tournament
semifinals. All three cageside judges scored it for Rickels (13-1,
7-1 Bellator): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Rickels advanced to the finals with style.
A late replacement for the injured Alexander
Sarnavskiy, Fischer (6-2, 3-2 Bellator) was effective in
spurts. Ultimately, he was overrun by Rickels’ strength, size and
persistence. “The Caveman” did his best work in the third round,
where he weathered a nasty gash to his left eyebrow. Undeterred,
Rickels bullied Fischer to the mat, moved to full mount and twice
transitioned to the back, threatening first with a rear-naked choke
and then a late armbar. He settled for the decision.
“My hands felt a little heavy, so I showed a little bit of my
grappling,” said Rickels, who will carry a three-fight winning
streak into the final. “I was really looking to finish.”
Unbeaten Holm Dispatches Merrill
Multiple-time world boxing champion Holly Holm
dazzled in her first MMA appearance in more than a year, as she
dispatched the overmatched Katie
Merrill with second-round punches in a women’s bantamweight
bout. Holm (3-0, 1-0 Bellator) dropped the hammer 3:02 into round
Holm flattened her outmatched opponent.
Merrill (1-1, 0-1 Bellator) had no answer for the firepower her
opponent carried into the cage. Holm denied repeated takedown
attempts in the first round and buckled the Massachusetts export
with a pair of wicked kicks to the body.
Knees greeted Merrill in round two, and though she secured a quick
takedown, her good fortune was short-lived. Holm returned to an
upright position and resumed her attack. A right hook to the body
followed by a clean left to the head sent Merrill to the canvas,
with Holm in pursuit. There, a swarm of punches brought it to a
Avena Stuns Lovato; West Head Kick KOs Montoya
In preliminary action,
World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Blas Avena
(8-6, 1-0 Bellator) wiped out Lenny
Lovato (8-2, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 1:40 into the opening
frame of their welterweight clash; Bellator MMA Season 3
bantamweight tournament finalist Ed West (18-7,
4-3 Bellator) knocked out King of the Cage veteran Joshua
Montoya (10-8, 0-1 Bellator) with a head kick 2:51 into round
Quintana (4-1, 1-0 Bellator) put away Russell
Wilson (1-2, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 32 seconds into the
third round of their featherweight scrap; Adrian Cruz
(4-0, 1-0 Bellator) kept his perfect professional record intact, as
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Nick
Gonzalez (3-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a scarf hold armlock 3:00
into the second round of their bantamweight encounter;
California-based heavyweight Josh Appelt
(9-2, 2-0 Bellator) recorded his fifth consecutive victory, as he
stopped Josh Lanier
(3-7, 0-1 Bellator) on punches 16 seconds into round two; and
Ward (6-1, 2-1 Bellator) needed just 57 seconds to submit
Mexico’s Yair Moguel
(3-4, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke in a catchweight
West left his foe flat on the canvas.