Ryan Bader wasted zero time Saturday at Bellator 199.
The reigning Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion punched his ticket to the second round of the ongoing Grand Prix by knocking out Muhammed Lawal in 15 seconds. A left hook in the first real exchange dropped “King Mo,” and Bader followed his dazed foe to the ground, where he continued to deliver punishment until referee Mike Beltran stepped in to stop the proceedings.
Bader, the last fighter to advance from the tournament’s opening round, will face Matt Mitrione at a date to be decided, and further his quest to become a two-division champion for Bellator.
Related » Bellator 199 Round-by-Round Scoring
In the co-main event, Jon Fitch delivered a vintage performance in his promotional debut, as he smothered explosive striker and recent company malcontent Paul Daley in a dominant manner over three rounds. Fitch, fighting in his longtime adoptive hometown of San Jose, California, won all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards. While the performance drew some scattered boos from the crowd, the second and third rounds each drew 10-8 scorecards from at least one of the ringside judges.
Aaron Pico continued to justify the hype around him, as the man who is arguably MMA’s most exciting prospect under age 25 stopped his second straight foe with a body shot. Pico threw a left hook to the body that had Lee Morrison tumbling backwards, head over heels. After the rising featherweight star from American Kickboxing Academy chased Morrison to the mat with additional punches, referee Blake Grice jumped to Morrison’s rescue at 1:10 of the first round. Pico, after an upset loss in his mixed martial arts debut, has now reeled off three straight wins via first-round stoppage.
In his heavyweight feature tilt with Javy Ayala, veteran Cheick Kongo tallied his first finish since 2014. The Frenchman crushed Ayala with a short counter right, then pounced on his dazed foe for a technical knockout win at 2:29. Kongo, who turns 43 next week and is arguably the best eligible fighter not taking part in the Bellator Grand Prix, has now won six straight.
Once-touted lightweight prospect Adam Piccolotti made significant progress towards righting his ship, as he put an end to a two-fight skid by choking out previously undefeated Carrington Banks. After nearly three rounds of increasingly one-sided dominance on the mat, Piccolotti, now 10-2, finally secured the tapout via rear-naked choke at 4:41 of the final frame.
In preliminary action, Brandon Hester (4-1) suffered his first loss, to fellow middleweight prospect Jordan Williams. Williams (7-2) blasted Hester with a right-handed counter early in the second round, then pursued the finish via ground strikes. The end came at 1:11 of Round 2. Amber Leibrock (3-1) defeated Janay Harding (3-4) in a featherweight bout characterized by back-and-forth action and awkward striking exchanges. In a welterweight bout, James Terry (20-9) defeated Danasabe Mohammed (5-2) via unanimous decision. Gaston Bolanos (3-1) defeated Malcolm Hill (1-3) at a mere 2:54 of the first round, as his punishing leg kicks left Hill unable to stand or defend himself, prompting a stoppage by referee Frank Trigg. In an early featherweight bout, AKA prospect Justin Tenedora (2-1) defeated David Rivera (0-3) via rear-naked choke at 4:17 of the first round. In the opening fight on the broadcast, Deron Winn (4-0) celebrated his Bellator debut by knocking out Ahmed White in White’s first professional bout. After several exchanges in which Winn decidedly came out the better, the finish came at 2:32 of the first round.