Bellator 154: "Davis vs. King Mo" took place on Saturday night (May 14, 2016) from inside SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., streaming live on Spike TV. The main event saw No. 1 contender "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis put his light heavyweight title shot up against the seven fight win streak of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal.
The two men were originally supposed to meet at Bellator 142 "Dynamite 1" in the tournament finals, but Lawal was forced to withdraw due to a rib injury, leaving Davis to knockout replacement fighter Francis Carmont and earn his chance against champion Liam McGeary.
Was Davis able to hang on to that hard earned title shot or did Lawal make it eight in a row?
Like any of Lawal's fights that have gone the distance, this one will be hotly debated. In terms of power punches Lawal seemed to have the advantage in spots, and certainly looked like the aggressor, but never could land one hard clean shot that really rocked Davis.
Davis worked from the outside with leg kicks and body kicks, scoring points and hoping to slow his foe down, and in round three it was actually Davis who landed the hard right hand that sent Lawal reeling backward. Davis jumped on top and went for a kimura, Lawal rolled and escaped, but he flailed around late and couldn't land a good shot on Davis.
One judge saw at least one round for Lawal (most likely the first) but the other two made it a clean sweep for Davis as he scored a unanimous 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 to hang onto his No. 1 contender's spot.
Davis spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight about how close he was to finishing it.
"Oh man. I should have had a little bit more urgency and got in there nice and tight. You've got to be careful with a guy like Mo. He's so powerful and very explosive. He may be tired but he's never too tired for another overhand right."
Champion Liam McGeary hit the cage to evaluate Davis' performance.
"You did alright, but I think you could do a little bit better. I hope you stand up like that with me because I'm knocking you out definitely."
Davis has a response: "To that I say GOOD LUCK."
In a very late addition to the card that wound up in the co-main event slot -- Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos made a quick turnaround after Bellator 153 to face Bellator veteran Saad Awad. Awad moved up to welterweight to take this bout.
Santos got a takedown in the first minute of the fight and much like the Ward fight seemed poised to grab a leg lock, but unlike Ward the game Awad was able to put Santos on the defensive by going for an armbar off his back.
Santos eventually countered that submission attempt with a leg lock, but Awad rolled and rolled until he wound up in a position that had Santos still hanging on but unable to block the hammers and elbows. Awad rocked him so much he may have knocked him out and woke him right back up.
Jason Herzog saved Santos at 4:31.
Awad spoke to Jimmy Smith about the long streak of unanswered shots he landed.
"I knew I had to threw everything from here to Palestine. I had to throw everything I had to get him out of here. I think my next fight's going to be at (1)55. I want a name. Thomson's hurt -- he comes back I want Thomson. I want a top three guy."
Bellator MMA announced that "Dynamite 2" on June 24 in St. Louis will feature Michael Chandler vs. Patricky Pitbull for the vacant lightweight title as Will Brooks is no longer the champion.
Chandler spoke to Jimmy Smith about the bout.
"I'm excited. I fought him a couple of years ago. It brings me back to that run I made for the Lightweight title. I had to go through him to get that fight with Eddie Alvarez. He's had some spectacular knockouts since then. He's an exciting guy so I'm excited to get in the cage and compete with him. I have gotten better leaps and bounds. This is a fight that fans want to see."
The announce team also revealed that the heavyweight title previously held by Vitaly Minakov for 911 days without a title defense had finally been vacated.
Another bout with welterweight ranking potential pitted the undefeated Andre Fialho against a man with only one defeat in his career, the 7-1 Rick Reger.
This one was never even close and was barely what you would call competitive. Fialho tagged him repeatedly with rights, dazed him badly enough to force him to go for a single leg, then peeled him away like a tomato can lid and went right back to work. By 2:11 he had been knocked down enough times that Ed Collantes finally stepped in for the KO.
Fialho spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight, who dedicated his performance to a recently deceased friend.
"I want to be a world champion. I'll get there. I'm gonna get that belt no matter what."
In a lightweight contest for the Spike TV card, Adam Piccolotti took on late notice fighter Ray Wood. Wood's lack of time to prepare and his jump up in weight showed in this fight, as Piccolotti got a takedown in the first minute and never relinquished control from that point on, finally getting the rear naked choke when Wood tried to stand with Piccolotti riding piggyback.
The tap came at 3:17.
Piccolotti spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight about the fact he was originally to face the late Jordan Parsons.
"I was definitely thinking about it. I first want to say rest in peace to Jordan and all my respect to his family and his loved ones. It was definitely hard, definitely emotional, but we pushed through it. Every fight helps my confidence like crazy. I don't want to wait six months, I want to fight as much as possible. Put me on Team USA, send me to London."
A previously unannounced fight for the main card saw Josh San Diego dominate Jeremiah Labiano with striking and cage control en route to a unanimous 29-28 x3 decision.
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.