Emanuel Brooks had his way with Willian de Souza at Bellator 56. | Photo: Keith Mills
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The undercard of Bellator Fighting Championships 56 put several unbeaten prospects on display at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., but none are more coveted than lightweight Emanuel Brooks, as the former Missouri wrestler took a unanimous verdict (30-26, 30-26, 29-27) over Willian de Souza.
Brooks was on the wrong end of two low blows in the first round, prompting referee Jason Herzog to take a point from the Brazilian. In spite of getting hit low, Brooks continued to dominate proceedings, landing cleaner, harder shots standing and easily stuffing his opponent's takedowns.
In addition to the groin strikes, Brooks told Sherdog.com after the bout that he dislocated his elbow in the second round, adding more adversity to the win as Brooks moves to 5-0 as a pro.
“I really wasn’t worried about anything,” Brooks said. “I knew he had great ground. I knew that’s where he wanted the fight to go. I wanted to keep the fight on my feet, just my crotch wasn’t agreeing with the fight; he had a beeline for my balls.”
However, it is his alma mater that has most onlookers excited. A former Mizzou Tiger, Brooks follows the likes of Ben Askren and Michael Chandler and Ben Askren to the Bellator. Their respective success might be a positive sign for his future in the organization and the sport on the whole.
“My relationship with Askren is pretty good, my relationship with Chandler not so much. So when I saw him win this tournament last year it really gave me hope because let’s just say, it gave me hope. I’m going to leave it at that,” Brooks explained.
In the "Fight of the Night," Marcio Navarro took on massive Kansas City crowd favorite Rudy Bears, and emerged victorious by split decision.
A quality-versus-quantity bout ensued with Bears throwing more shots, but Navarro landing more powerfully. A big welt started to develop underneath Bears’ right eye at the end first round courtesy of a Navarro hook that put him on the mat. Navarro grew more confident as the fight wore on and it showed, especially on the face of the bloodied Bears, as his swollen right eye was almost completely shut, likely due to a broken orbital bone.
“I know psychologically he started going down,” Navarro told Sherdog.com after the bout, “I opened his face but I knew with one punch he could win the fight. I still thought though that I need to finish.”
Chickasha, Okla.'s Jeremy Spoon improved to 12-0 in his pro career, taking an entertaining, grueling unanimous decision over Adam Schindler.
It was Spoon’s speed that made the difference on his way to the win. Spoon moved in and out of the pocket at ease for the 15 minutes connecting with shots at will to Schindler’s face. Even though Schindler started hot by taking Spoon's back, the end of the fight saw Schindler’s face bloodied and battered, and Spoon looking ready for another 15 minutes.
After three rounds, judges Henry Gueary, Mike Boyd and Dave Clifton saw the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Spoon, who went the distance for just the third time in his dozen pro bouts.
Another unbeaten prospect, Dan Spohn, tasted defeat for the first time, as Topeka, Kan.'s Kelvin Tiller took a well-earned split decision in their 205-pound contest.
After formally opening on the Missouri side of Kansas City on Friday, Jason High and L.C. Davis' HDMMA saw its first pro victory as bantamweight Aaron Ely overwhelmed Owen Evinger. The 22-year-old Ely quickly got Evinger, younger brother of female MMA vet Tonya Evinger, on the mat and took his back, sinking in the fight-ending rear-naked choke at 3:45 of the first round.
Rear-naked choke was also the order of business for fellow bantamweight Jacob Akin.
After eating a few early shots from opponent Jeimeson Saudino, Akin got a takedown off of a Saudino kick, quickly transitioned to the back and got a choke of his own to earn his win at 3:26 of the opening frame.
The night’s festivities started with a heavyweight tilt that saw Topeka's Daniel Gallemore get his first career pro win against Kansas City's Derek Ruffin. In what can at best be described as a battle of attrition, Gallemore capitalized on his exhausted opponent, dropping him before the end of the second round. Ruffin was unable to answer the bell to begin the third round, giving Gallemore the win.