Emanuel Newton and David Rickels captured tournament titles at Bellator 94 on Thursday at the University of South Florid Sun Dome in Tampa.
In the Light Heavyweight Tournament Final, Emanuel Newton defeated Mikhail Zayats by unanimous decision.
It was a back and forth bout that mostly played out on its feet. Newton won the opening round with takedowns and top control. Zayats came back in the second round with more effective striking. Heading into the final stanza, it was anyone’s fight.
The most significant offense mounted in the fight came in the third round. Newton lands a right hand that sent Zayats backward and onto the canvas. Zayats quickly got back to his feet, but was unable to close the distance enough to overcome the knockdown. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Newton.
“Mikhail is tough as balls. He brought it, caught me with a couple, cut me. He was hard to takedown, good scrambling, good punching,” said Newton following the fight. “I knew if I pushed the pace that he’d get tired and I would eventually get the takedowns and finish it on the ground.”
With the win, Netwon bagged a $100,000 payday and earned a rematch with Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion Attila Vegh. The two first fought at Bellator 71 in the semifinals of the Bellator 2012 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament. Vegh defeated Newton by split decision that night in a fight many felt Newton won. He now has the opportunity to avenge that loss and gain a belt.
In the co-main event David Rickels defeated Saad Award in controversial fashion to capture the Bellator MMA Lightweight Tournament title.
Award was utilizing a balanced attack of striking and takedowns to control the fight. In the closing seconds of the opening round, Award and Rickels engaged in an exchange. A right hook by Rickels hurt Award, who immediately tried to go for a takedown. As he did, the bell sounded signifying the end of the round and Award fell to the canvas, rolled over and laid there. The referee stopped the fight between rounds after he assessed that Award was out. A fighter cannot be saved by the bell.
“It feels amazing. I really wanted to put an exclamation mark on the way I went out in this tournament,” said Rickels following the tournament championship win. “I knew he’d want to trade with me. We ended up doing a little wrestling, but that exchange in the corner, that’s what I wanted. I got to land that right hand and I guess I do have some power.”
Rickels banked $100,000 and earned a title shot against Bellator MMA lightweight titleholder Michael Chandler.
“He said a little something about how I was lacking a little bit of power. I don’t know, I think I’ve got a little bit still,” he said about Chandler.
Luis Melo extended his win streak to six with a submission win over Trey Houston in a welterweight qualifier bout. Melo earned a place in next season’s Bellator MMA 170-pound Tournament.
Rodrigo Lima defeated Ronnie Mann in a bantamweight qualifier bout, ruining Mann’s 135-pound debut. The unanimous decision win earned Lima a slot in next season’s Bellator MMA Bantamweight Tournament.
Bellator MMA 94 Results:
-Emanuel Newton def. Mikhail Zayats by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-David “Caveman” Rickels def. Saad Award by TKO at 5:00, R1
-Luis Melo def. Trey Houston by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 1:09, R3|
-Rodrigo Lima def. Ronnie Mann by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Julien Williams def. Kenny Moss by submission (guillotine choke) at 3:19, R1
-Augusto Sakai def. Rob Horton by TKO at 4:01, R2
-Jessica Aguilar def. Patricia Vidonic by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
-Joe Taimanglo def. Ronnie Rogers by submission (north-south choke) at :33, R2
-Edson Berto def. Bruno Carvalho by submission (heel hook) at 1:27, R1
-Tony Fryklund vs. Patrick Cenoble fought to a draw (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
-Felice Herrig def. Heather Clark by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)