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Bellator 90 Recap: ‘King Mo’ Dethroned Via Spinning Backfist, Ben Saunders Adds Head Kick KO to Highlight Reel

(The Emanuel Newton vs. King Mo spinning-backfist falling-tree knockout, via RockOwnsPunk.)

When you’re watching a Bellator event, you can only hope that a memorable finish or two will make up for the general lack of star power compared to those other guys. And oh man, did last night’s Bellator 90 event in West Valley City, Utah, deliver the goods, with all four fights on the Spike TV main card ending within the first two rounds, and three more stoppages featured on the prelims.

But the card’s generous helping of violence was a mixed blessing, since the list of victims included Bellator’s light-heavyweight marquee attraction, and their marketable featherweight inspirational figure. If you didn’t tune in last night, here’s what you missed:

Season 8 Welterweight Semi-Finals: Ben Saunders faced Raul Amaya for the second time in his Bellator stint, and while Killa B completely dominated their first meeting en route to a unanimous decision win, he didn’t even let Amaya out of the first round this time. Amaya was aggressive from the opening bell, but wasn’t able to find his range against the lanky Saunders, who landed counter-punches and body-kicks at will, before putting Amaya’s lights out with a left high kick. (GIF here, via ZombieProphet/BloodyElbow)

The fight on the other side of the 170-bracket was just as quick and one-sided. Douglas Lima didn’t give Bryan Baker a chance to get in the fight, abusing Baker’s legs with low kicks for a couple minutes, then firing a devastating right hand that crumpled “The Beast” to the mat. Lima will now face Saunders in the Season 8 Welterweight Tournament Final at Bellator 93, in a rematch of their Season 5 Welterweight Tournament Final in November 2011, which Lima won by knockout.

Season 8 Light-Heavyweight Semi-Finals: The Spike card led off with a 205-pound match between Mikhail Zayats and Jacob Noe, who you may remember as the guys who beat Renato Sobral and Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 85. Zayats took control from the very beginning, flooring Noe with a right hand and establishing top position on the mat. After some ground-and-pound, Zayats established mount and methodically set up an armbar, cranking it for the tap.

You’d think that Zayats would now be set up for high-profile meeting with Muhammad Lawal in the tournament finals, but Emanuel Newton went and screwed those plans up later in the evening. Unlike Przemyslaw “The Inanimate Object” Mysiala, Newton wasn’t afraid to stand toe-to-toe with Mo; Lawal’s shots might have been cleaner during their striking exchanges, but Newton was getting his licks in and making it a battle. But that battle didn’t last long. Halfway through the opening round, Newton whiffed so hard on an overhand right that he found himself with his back turned to Mo. So he figured, hey, why not throw a completely-blind spinning backfist? And because the MMA Gods have a sadistic sense of humor when it comes to fight promotions putting all their eggs into a single fighter’s basket, that spinning backfist landed across Lawal’s jaw, sending the King into a slow-motion tailspin. And so, it’ll be Newton vs. Zayats for all the marbles. How do you like that.

Season 7 Featherweight Tournament Final: The fight between Rad Martinez and Shahbulat Shamhalaev was originally supposed to go down in December, but Shamhalaev had to bow out at the last minute due to food poisoning. Shamhalaev was in fine form last night, punching Martinez to the mat in the first round, and nailing him with leg kicks. Martinez’s best moment came as he scored a takedown to stifle Shamhalaev’s momentum near the end of the round. Once the fighters were re-started for round two, it was all Shamhalaev, who dinged Martinez with unanswered power punches that staggered the Utah native, then smashed him with an overhand right that effectively ended the match — GIF here, via ZombieProphet/BloodyElbow — punching his ticket to a future title shot against Pat Curran.

Full Bellator 90 results are below.

Main Card
- Shahbulat Shamhalaev def. Rad Martinez via KO, 2:12 of round 2 *
- Emanuel Newton def. Muhammed Lawal via KO (spinning backfist), 2:35 of round 1 **
- Douglas Lima def. Bryan Baker via KO, 2:34 of round 1 ***
- Mikhail Zayats def. Jacob Noe via submission (armbar), 3:38 of round 1 **

Preliminary Card
- Ben Saunders def. Raul Amaya via KO (head kick), 2:56 of round 1 ***
- Travis Marx def. Chase Beebe via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
- Jesse Juarez def. Jordan Smith via split-decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Sean Powers def. David Allred via submission (rear-naked choke), 2:10 of round 3
- Lionel Lanham def. Joe Rodriguez via KO, 0:49 of round 1

* Season 7 Featherweight Tournament Final
** Season 8 Light-Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final
*** Season 8 Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final

Cagepotato Comments

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Cestus84- February 23, 2013 at 10:11 am
"fight promotions putting all their eggs into a single fighter's basket" Thankfully, Bellator isn't doing that w/ King Mo.
drainplugofideas- February 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm
Awesome card. Best of 2013. Score one for the hardcore kid.
Alan K- February 22, 2013 at 11:14 am
I love boxing matches where neither guy has any technique. Fun stuff. Way to get the win, Webster!
danomite- February 22, 2013 at 10:33 am
I said after his last fight Mo needs to do a better job of protecting his chin. Hopefully he does something to fix it now.
mDino- February 22, 2013 at 10:22 am
This bellator event was great. King Mo does his best floyd/overeem impression with his hands down and pays for it. Hilarious.
Fried Taco- February 22, 2013 at 9:39 am
When I say King, you say... oh, shit!
algiersheadkick504- February 22, 2013 at 9:16 am
Hahahahahha at king mo cocky mother fucked I almost died laughing wen he was caught by that
algiersheadkick504- February 22, 2013 at 9:14 am
Shamhalaev is scary good. His striking skillset is high-level and devastating almost as devastating as aldo in wec. Him v. Curran will be epic. Bellator is getting better and better there tournneys and getting more and more leggit. If they stay consist iI bet the ufc will start tourneys again.
SumDumGuy- February 22, 2013 at 7:22 am
King Mo should've taken his buddy Money Floyd's advice: Put yo hands UP!!! LOL