Bellator 134's theme was "The British Invasion". Unfortunately, Michael Page and James Thompson pulled out of this event, so the invasion was more of a visitation. The main event of Emanuel Newton vs. England's Liam McGeary decided whether or not Newton would remain LHW champion or if McGeary would be bringing the Bellator belt across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo faced King Mo Lawal in the co-main in a special heavyweight bout, while Paul Daley made his Bellator return after a 3 year absence. Here are all of the results from tonight's show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
(All Vines are credited to Zombie Prophet)
Liam McGeary def. Emanuel Newton via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-47, 48-47) to become the new Bellator LHW champion
Newton escaped a series of submissions by McGeary in an incredible first round. Triangle choke, armbar, keylock, inverted triangle, leglock, you name it, Newton escaped it. That he kept getting himself into bad spots is one thing, but the champ refused to relinquish his title even as he risked a 10-8 round being scored against him. Despite the early scare, Newton continued to go for takedowns and fight in Liam's guard over the course of the fight, and in the 3rd round he found himself in a mounted triangle in the closing seconds. There wasn't enough time for McGeary to get the tap but it looked dangerous. The 4th round was Newton's best as he was able to land good, flush strikes and of course get his takedown with ease. Newton immediately grounded McGeary, who finished his submission attempt tally at 14 but could finish none. The champion wasn't able to advance into a seriously threatening position but was able to largely control McGeary and avoid any serious danger in the final 5 minutes. Obviously the judges rewarded the submission attempts and constant aggression from McGeary from the bottom, and a 48-46 card likely meant that a 10-8 round 1 was scored. McGeary remains undefeated at 10-0, while Newton's championship reign comes to an end.
Highlights of two of the most serious submission attempts...
Muhammad Lawal def. Cheick Kongo by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Newsflash: Cheick Kongo isn't good at defending takedowns and King Mo's best asset is his wrestling. That's the best description I can give you for an unexciting fight. Lawal took on a bigger man on short notice (instead of the originally scheduled James Thompson) and put on a wrestling clinic. The 29-28 from Cardo Urso, who somehow scored the fight for Kongo is extreme incompetence and if Lawal had lost this fight he'd have been severely scrutinized for this.
Paul Daley def. Andre Santos via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
This was an incredibly weird fight. Santos, replacing the injured Douglas Lima, started out nicely with his jab and landed a few decent power shots on "Semtex", but Daley soon found his range and was plastering Santos with big shots. It looked like Daley would get the finish several times in the 2nd round, but a combination of a very lenient Dan Miragliotta and Santos' own toughness kept him in the fight. Santos was busted up with a huge knee from the clinch in the 3rd round, but Daley couldn't get the finish. Daley had Santos down and seemingly done at least 3 times in this one, and he ended the fight briefly mounted by Santos after the Brazilian desperately worked for a takedown. It was a clear decision win for Daley but it was anything but easy.
Linton Vassell def. Sokoudjou via TKO (punches) at 3:18 of round 2
England's Vassell had little trouble with Sokoudjou. The fight ended with Sokoudjou flattened out and Vassell busting him up with punches from full back control. Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight as the former PRIDE sensation turned UFC bust was not defending himself or improving his position.
This was supposed to be flashy British striker Michael Page facing Millender, but "Irish" Ward filled in for the injured Page and made short work of his short-notice fight. Ward, making his welterweight debut, dropped Millender with a right hand and then pounced immediately to work on the fight-ending submission. He flattened Millender out and secured the rear-naked choke for the win in front of his home fans in Connecticut.
Complete Preliminary Card results
The incredible comeback story of Tamdan McCrory continues with a 1st round armbar of Jason Butcher. After "Barncat" retired from MMA in 2009, he made his way back into the sport with a stunning knockout over former Bellator middleweight title challenger Brennan Ward last September. With another quick win on his resume, an unlikely title shot for McCrory could be in the cards.
Dean Hancock def. Mike Mangan by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:33 of round 1
Matt Bessette def. Josh LaBerge via TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00 of round 2
Raphael Butler def. Josh Diekmann via submission (standing guillotine) at 1:04 of round 1
Tamdan McCrory def. Jason Butcher via submission (armbar) at 1:06 of round 1
Neiman Gracie def. Bobby Flynn via submission (neck crank) at 2:36 of round 1
Blair Tugman def. Marvin Maldonado via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)