Bellator Fighting Championships returns TONIGHT (June 19, 2013) at the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, with the Summer Series kickoff at both heavyweight and light heavyweight.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of Bellator 96 below, beginning with the Spike TV telecast at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, we'll deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the undercard action much earlier in the evening (beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET), as well as a live stream of the preliminary action.
Headlining the main event will be the return of former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Lawal as he takes on UFC veteran Seth Petruzelli in the opening round of the Bellator Summer Series light heavyweight tournament. Both men are trying to put their most recent fights behind them, having been finished via knockout/TKO in the last Bellator light heavyweight tournament.
The other half of the tourney will be a 205 battle between veteran Renato Sobral and the upstart Jacob Noe. Sobral was upset in the opening round of the last tournament while Noe, who actually beat Petruzelli in the quarterifnals, was unable to keep the momentum. The winner will be one fight away from a potential title shot.
But that's not all, the Summer Series heavyweight tournament will also be kicking off as former Bellator light heavyweight and heavyweight tournament finalist Richard Hale takes on short notice injury replacement Ryan Martinez while "Monster" Ron Sparks battles newly signed unbeaten prospect Vitaly Minakov.
Complete Bellator 96 quick results, live online video stream and main card play-by-play are posted below:
205 lbs.: Muhammed Lawal def. Seth Petruzelli via knockout at 1:36 of round one
205 lbs.: Jacob Noe def. Renato Sobral via TKO at 3:32 of round three
265 lbs.: Ryan Martinez def. Richard Hale via knockout at 2:19 of round one
265 lbs.: Vitaly Minakov def. Ron Sparks via TKO at 0:32 of round one
170 lbs.: War Machine def. Blas Avena via TKO at 3:55 of round one
135 lbs.: Justin McNally def. Steven Artoff via verbal submission (triangle) at 2:44 of round one
155 lbs.: Derek Campos def. Brandon Girtz via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
265 lbs.: Brandon Halsey def. Joe Yaeger via split decision
265 lbs.: Raphael Butler def. Jeremiah O'Neal via TKO at 2:57 of round one
155 lbs.: Damon Jackson def. Keith Miner via TKO at 2:00 of round one
135 lbs.: Mike Maldonado vs. Chavous Smith
185 lbs.: Keith Berry vs. Cortez Coleman
135 lbs.: Jarrod Card vs. Chas Skelly
205 lbs.: King Mo Lawal vs. Seth Petruzelli
Round one: Early kicks from Petruzelli and Lawal shoots in for a takedown. Petruzelli over-sprawls and their heads collide. The ref gives Petruzelli a moment to recover and they reset. Petruzelli goes back to the kicks but Lawal catches a body kick and easily takes him down. Lawal is inside Petruzelli's guard and he drops a MASSIVE right hand, knocking Petruzelli out cold in one big shot. Petruzelli is OUT COLD.
Final Result: King Mo Lawal defeats Seth Petruzelli via knockout at 1:36 of round one
205 lbs.: Renato Sobral vs. Jacob Noe
Round one: Both men circle early and Sobral lands a leg kick. Noe backs Babalu up with a hook and Sobral responds with a lead left hook. Sobral closes the distance, forcing a clinch but Noe shrugs him off and they reset in the cage center. Noe slips after eating an inside kick but Babalu doesn't pounce. Noe is waiting on Sobral, hoping to counter. He lands a pair of short left hands and then a right as Babalu wades in. Sobral needs to clinch or take this fight to the ground or he's going to get caught. Sobral shoots in and he's deep but Noe grabs underhooks and shrugs him off again. Low blow from Sobral and they take a breather before resetting. Noe lands a counter and rocks Sobral but he doesn't follow up. Another counter from Noe and he backs Sobral up. Sobral is really playing with fire here. 10-9 Noe
Round two: Sobral tries to get inside but Noe easily avoids the takedown attempt. They clinch along the fence and trade short strikes, including a knee to the groin. Noe doesnt' need much recovery time and they reset. Nice left hook from Babalu and Noe fires back with some big power shots but Sobral blocks it. Sobral steps forward and lands some hooks, avoiding the power counter from Noe. Outside leg kick from Sobral and Noe tries to respond with a knee up the middle. Good leg kick from Sobral again and he's starting to do damage. Sobral is starting to work a jab, bloodying up Noe's mouth but Noe is showing no respect for him. They taunt each other at the end of the round. 10-9 Sobral
Round three: Good right hand from Noe to get the round started and Sobral clinches looking for a takedown. Noe stuffs it and they clinch along the fence. Sobral attempts an outside trip but gets denied. Sobral changes levels and has his hips low and arms connected but Noe again denies his takedown attempt. Big right hand and then a left hook from Noe and Sobral is hurt! Sobral is bloodied up now but Noe isn't following up. I have no idea what he's waiting for. Another right hand scores for Noe and he's letting Babalu off the hook in my opinion. Noe lands some shots and Sobral staggers into the center of the cage and the ref puts a stop to it.
Final Result: Jacob Noe defeats Renato Sobral via TKO at 3:32 of round three
265 lbs.: Vitaly Minakov vs. Ron Sparks
Round one: Sparks presses forward flashing leather but Minakov clocks him with a big right hand. Sparks drops and Minakov pounces, blasting him with ground and pound until the referee puts a stop to it. Damn that was quick.
Final Result: Vitaly Minakov defeats Ron Sparks via TKO at 0:32 of round one
170 lbs.: War Machine vs. Blas Avena
Round one: War Machine takes control of the cage center quickly and they trade low kicks. Avena shoots in for a takedown and gets it but War Machine uses butterfly guard and pops back to his feet. Nice right hand from War Machine and he initiates a clinch, slamming Avena to the ground. Avena retains guard, cage walking back to his feet but he eats several right hands on the way up. Avena scores with some knees up the middle but War Machine clocks him with a left and right hook. Avena grabs a single leg but can't finish it, settling for a clinch but War Machine scores an outside trip and lands in top position in half guard. He passes to half guard, locking up an arm with a crucifix and dropping undefended left hands. Avena can't free himself from the position and the ref puts a stop to it.
Final Result: War Machine defeats Blas Avena via TKO (unanswered strikes) at 3:55 of round one