Bellator MMA marched into the "Golden State" for an impressive line up of mixed martial arts (MMA) and GLORY kickboxing bouts as part of an explosive Bellator 142: "Dynamite 1" event inside SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., last night (Sat., Sept. 19, 2015).
In the evening's main event, Liam McGeary was looking to add to his growing resume by taking out Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz in his first Light Heavyweight title defense. Ortiz, a former UFC 205-pound champion, aimed to keep his 40-year-old engine rolling after defeating Alexander Shlemenko and Stephan Bonnar in succession.
McGeary and Ortiz pawed at each other early with jabs. Ortiz rumbled in for a takedown and it was stuffed momentarily, but the Brit went for a guillotine choke. McGeary lost the choke and looked for a kimura with Ortiz in full guard. Ortiz managed a bit of ground-and-pound before moving into side control. Ortiz escaped an armbar attempt only to find himself caught in an inverted triangle, which he was forced to submit to.
Ortiz's words to Jimmy Smith on the crushing defeat.
"I worked really hard for this camp and gave my heart and soul in this cage. You've got to beat the champ. He showed he's the real man tonight. I'm pissed at myself. I thank you for pushing me."
Muhammed Lawal was injured and not cleared to fight after defeating Linton Vassell earlier in the evening. Vassell was not cleared to fight either.
Tristar Gym product Francis Carmont filled in and faced former UFC Light Heavyweight contender Phil Davis in what is the final 205-pound match to crown a new No. 1 contender.
Carmont threw a couple of body kicks and maintained distance to begin round one. Shortly after, however, the fight is stopped following an enormous left hand and follow-up strikes from Davis.
His comments to Jimmy Smith post-fight.
"I had the best training camp. I've got the best coaches and teammates. Man, I don't know what happened. I might have done something wrong. I don't know what the California State Athletic Commission tests for [referring to his prayer count being high]."
Davis added his thoughts on the night's headliner.
"I wanna fight Liam McGeary. He's young, he's fresh and he's long. I want to be the one to take him out."
Light heavyweight kickboxers threw down when Saulo Cavalari looked to knockout Zack Mwekassa for the second time. Cavalari is a winner of three-straight matches, while Mwekassa starched Carlos Brooks in his latest GLORY outing back in June.
Mwekassa had the upper hand in the early going, battering the body of the Brazilian, while connecting on several solid jabs. The Congolese fighter was undoubtedly the more powerful puncher, but Cavalari's combos began to take over as the fight wore on. Cavalari knocked down Mwekassa in round two with a right head kick, but it was nullified after he was deducted a point moments later for holding. He would land another stellar head kick in round three.
Heading into the championship rounds, Mwekassa began to fade and tire. Cavalari continued to finish his combos with a leg or body kick to take the majority decision and win the vacant GLORY light heavyweight championship.
Scores: 48-46, 48-46, 48-47
It was back to MMA around the middle of the Bellator 142 card for an interesting lightweight match between the debuting Josh Thomson and the heavy-handed Mike Bronzoulis. "The Punk" enters the 155-pound meeting on a three-fight losing streak, while "The Greek" is a winner of three-straight.
Thomson raced out of the gates with good movement and pressure. Bronzoulis' best chance at winning was on the feet, but he failed to keep the American Kickboxing Academy staple off of him. The majority of the bout took place on the mat as Thomson put forth a major grappling clinic to which Bronzoulis had no answer. The soon-to-be 37-year-old Thomson achieved mount twice and nearly took the back of the Greek at one point. Almost mercifully, Thomson ended Bronzoulis' night seconds into round three with an arm-triangle choke and was very gracious in victory.
Thomson was emotional following his Bellator debut when speaking with Jimmy Smith.
"I just wanted to give you guys a good performance. This might be the last time you guys see me in this building. Thank you guys."
Undefeated British kickboxing star Paul Daley has the skills to pay the bills in MMA, but for the time being, he was busy plying his trade against Fernando Gonzalez. "Semtex" hasn't set foot in a kickboxing ring since he defeated Mohammad Ghaedibardeh in Oct. 2014, while Gonzalez enters one for the first time.
Though Daley sports a significant advantage in experience over Gonzalez, the latter proved to be a worthy opponent throughout the duration of their three-round battle. The Brit took control early launching a bevvy of destructive kicks; particularly at the body. As more the kicks poured in, so became apparent of Daley's intentions of keeping the fight at a distance. Gonzalez would drudge into the pocket boldly as the fight wore on and landed a number of punishing body blows. The 32-year-old Daley opened up more with his trademark hands, before "The Menifee Maniac" stole the end of round three. Daley is your winner across the board 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez, a muay-thai specialist and wife of suspended UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez, made her GLORY kickboxing debut against Hadley Griffith.
What if I told you that the aforementioned tussle between Melendez and Griffith wasn't really a match, but an illusion? Because It was almost unfair to watch.
From the get-go, Melendez had her way with the MMA flyweight. Griffith had no answer for the pressure of Melendez, who landed a plethora of leg kicks, uppercuts and hooks. At times over their three-round affair, Melendez would back Griffith up against the ropes and reel of a series of damaging knees. It was as close to a spotless kickboxing performance as you can get as one judge ended up delivering a 10-8 round in favor of Melendez. She is your winner across the board, 30-27, 30-27, 30-26.
It was a special night for Melendez as she becomes the first woman to win under GLORY kickboxing rules.
Former Bellator light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton looked to spoil the debut of onetime perennial UFC contender Phil Davis and begin his trek back to gold. "The Hardcore Kid" is one fight removed from losing a hard-fought decision to the current champion McGeary, while Davis enters Bellator off of a disappointing loss to Ryan Bader.
After both fighters spent the early portion of round one gauging distance and exchanging kicks, Davis capitalized on a missed spinning body kick from Newton by dragging the 31-year-old to the mat. Once there, it was all "Mr. Wonderful." Newton initially escaped a kimura attempt by Davis, who took down the former a total of three times and smothered him every which way he turned. Between switching to control of Newton's back and neck, the All-American wrestler Davis had his choice of submission and he inevitably went with the kimura to tap the former 205-pound champion.
The finish below.
Davis moves on to face Muhammed Lawal in the light heavyweight tournament final later in the evening and had a small message for the latter in the clip below.
Muhammed Lawal, a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, kicked things off on tonight's eight-fight main card, entering Bellator's Decagon to face Linton Vassell, who's only Bellator loss is to Newton, in the first match in tonight's 205-pound tournament.
"King Mo" made his presence felt early by stunning the Englishman with a huge right hand. Vassell recovered admirably and settled down, but it was quite clear who was the faster, more powerful of the two. "The Swarm" was consistently battering the legs and body of the American Top Team representative Lawal throughout round one. A left hand from Lawal dropped the 32-year-old Vassell late in the first frame. Lawal continued his assault and ended the round dominantly.
The 34-year-old Lawal took his foot off the gas pedal for the first half of round two. He started clowning, while Vassell stood in the pocket throwing straight punches that started to find the mark more with each passing second. Vassell continued to score with heavy leg kicks and eventually he found a takedown, which was countered by a Lawal takedown and slam moments later. Lawal adds one more takedown for good measure and advances to the light heavyweight final to face the winner of Newton vs. Davis.
Lawal spoke to Jimmy Smith following his solid performance.
"I wasn't trying to back off, I was trying to finish him. It was kind of slippery. He was game, man."
He also shared his thoughts on the upcoming light heavyweight tournament semi-finals tilt between Newton and Davis.
"I don't care, I'm just worried about myself."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.
Check out our live streaming Bellator 142 results RIGHT HERE to see who else made a name for themselves inside the cage last night in San Jose.