Muhammed Lawal teed off on Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 96. |
File Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Lawal returned to his winning ways Wednesday night with a
vicious knockout of Seth
Petruzelli in the main event of Bellator
96 at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.
The 95-second victory came as a result of an early takedown from
Lawal, who worked his way inside of Petruzelli’s punches and kicks
to put “The Silverback” on his posterior. Though Petruzelli
initially did well to fire off short punches from the open guard,
Lawal eventually stood up and threw his opponent’s legs to the side
before raining down a wrecking ball of a right hand that instantly
turned out Petruzelli’s lights. Apparently realizing the blow had
accomplished its intended task, the former Strikeforce champion
declined to follow up, instead walking away from his unconscious
The performance grants “King Mo” passage to the Summer Series light
heavyweight tournament finals, slated to take place July 31 at
Noe Retires ‘Babalu’
Noe earned his spot in the light heavyweight tournament finals
by sending Strikeforce champion Renato
Sobral into retirement, though the victory was not without
Noe's left hand battered ‘Babalu.’
Noe and Sobral exchanged relatively evenly throughout the bout’s
first 10 minutes, with Noe consistently finding a home for his
right straight while “Babalu” attacked with low kicks. The
Brazilian attempted two takedowns but found the efforts fruitless,
as the American stuffed each try. Noe then took control of the
fight in round three, walking through Sobral’s long jab to land
heavy right hands, staggering Sobral against the cage.
After eating an especially crisp flurry, a fatigued “Babalu”
circled off the fence on wobbly legs, a sight referee Kerry Hatley
interpreted as cause to halt the bout and save the light
heavyweight from further punishment. Sobral immediately protested
the stoppage. After Noe was announced the winner, Sobral informed
the Bellator commentary team that he has decided to retire from
active competition. The Brazilian leaves the cage with a career
mark of 37-11.
Sparks Sparked in Half a Minute
Unbeaten Russian Vitaly
Minakov wasted no time in disposing of Ron Sparks to
advance to the finals of the Summer Series heavyweight tournament,
knocking out “The Monster” in just 32 seconds.
Minakov decimated Sparks in 32 seconds.
The sambo expert measured his foe carefully during their brief
encounter before lunging forward with a sharp right hand that put
Sparks on the mat. Minakov quickly pursued, connecting with a
series of ground strikes that caused Sparks to turn belly-down and
signaled referee John McCarthy to intervene.
Controversial welterweight War Machine
emerged victorious in his Bellator debut Wednesday night, returning
from an 18-month layoff to stop World Extreme Cagefighting veteran
Avena. The man formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver appeared a
step slow in the bout’s opening minutes, as he pursued Avena with
punching combinations, but soon found himself caught in a Thai plum
that resulted in several hard knees to the ribs.
The UFC alum found his way back on track when he hit a high-impact
double-leg takedown and transitioned to side control, where he
trapped Avena’s near-side arm in the crucifix position. The finish
came soon after, as Avena could do nothing to stifle the onslaught
of punches that followed, forcing referee Kerry Hatley to halt the
bout 3:55 into round one.
“I’m happy. I’ve never won by decision. I always try to finish my
fights,” said the polarizing welterweight. “I was a little nervous
tonight. It was my first fight in over a year. He caught me with a
couple of good body shots -- with knees -- but I came back and
stayed calm. I want that belt. I’m going to hurt some people.”
No Notice, No Problem
Late replacement Ryan
Martinez became the first heavyweight tournament participant to
punch his ticket to the finals during the evening’s undercard, when
the heavy-handed southpaw stopped Rich Hale with
Late notice was no problem for Martinez.
Following an extended feeling-out process, Martinez, who replaced
an injured Vinicius
Kappke de Queiroz in the heavyweight draw, closed the distance
with a wild swing before grabbing a body lock and taking Hale to
the floor. Though Hale did his best to fend off his stocky opponent
with up-kicks, Martinez eventually found his mark, stunning Hale
with a crisp left hook before relieving him of his consciousness
with a series of clubbing hammerfists that forced referee John
McCarthy to wave off the contest 2:19 into the opening frame.
The evening’s undercard also saw Brandon
Halsey extend his career unbeaten streak to four fights, as the
light heavyweight recovered from a second-round low-blow to score a
split decision win over Joe Yager;
heavyweight talent Raphael
Butler also remained undefeated, picking up a first-round
technical knockout over Jeremiah O’Neal; Derek
Campos edged Brandon
Girtz in a unanimous decision; Damon
Jackson made quick work of Keith Miner,
picking up a TKO finish in just 2:00; In the evening’s opening
contest, 22-year-old Justin
McNally earned the second win of his pro career by submitting
Artoff with an inverted triangle-armbar at 2:44 of the opening
round of their bantamweight affair.
McNally used an old Bellator favorite,
the inverted triangle choke.