(Bellator 91 video highlights via Bellator.com)
Given that his last fight resulted in a loss to Travis Wiuff, Christian M’Pumbu was something of a paper-champion coming into his first official Bellator title defense against Attila Vegh. By the end of the match, M’Pumbu wasn’t a champion at all.
The two light-heavyweights met in the main event of last night’s Bellator 91 event at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, with the Slovak challenger out-hustling his French-Congolese opponent over five rounds. Vegh directed the pace, landed harder punches — leading to a knockdown in round 1 — and slashed open M’Pumbu’s head with some elbows from the top in round 3.
Though the championship rounds didn’t offer much in terms of excitement, momentum was already in the favor of Vegh, who cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Vegh becomes Bellator’s new light-heavyweight champion, and will make his first title defense against…well, not King Mo, that’s for sure.
Bellator 91′s main card also featured the semi-finals of its Season 8 lightweight tournament. Leading off the Spike broadcast was a rematch between David Rickels and Jason Fischer, who had previously met in a non-tournament bout at Bellator 82; Fischer had come in as a short-notice injury replacement for Alexander Sarnavskiy. Though the final result was the same as their last meeting — Rickels by unanimous decision — the Caveman’s performance was even more dominant this time, as he outclassed Fischer with his striking and submission attempts.
Rickels’s win books him a ticket to the Season 8 lightweight finals against Saad Awad, who steamrolled Will Brooks in just 43 seconds on the other side of the lightweight bracket last night. Awad previously KO’d Guillaume DeLorenzi in 31 seconds during the lightweight quarterfinals at Bellator 87. Fun fact (or scary fact, if you’re David Rickels): Awad’s current six-fight win streak includes four knockouts in under a minute.
While the main card was marked by decisions, all seven fights on the prelims ended in stoppages. Notably, bantamweight Ed West put on a striking clinic against Josh Montoya, which included a failed Showtime Kick (see gif below via ZombieProphet/BloodyElbow), and a very sneaky front-leg head-kick knockout that was followed by at least three punches before Montoya’s body completed its descent to the mat. West celebrated his win by nearly killing George Roop.
Also, former female boxing star Holly Holm made her Bellator debut on last night’s prelims, and increased her MMA record to 3-0, with all wins by KO/TKO. Holm faced bantamweight rookie Katie Merrill and blitzed her with strikes, focusing her nastiest shots to the body. It looked like the fight was close to finished in round one when Holm landed a pair of kicks to Merrill’s midsection that doubled her over, but Merrill survived to round 2, where Holm gave her more of the same. Holm secured her victory by dropping Merrill with a body-hook followed by a left hand, then finishing the fight with strikes from the top. And just like that, Holm is Bellator’s next best hope for a home-grown female star.
Full results from Bellator 91 are below…
- Attila Vegh def. Christian M’Pumbu via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 50-45)
- Saad Awad def. Will Brooks via KO, 0:43 of round 1
- David Rickels def. Jason Fischer via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x 2)
- Holly Holm def. Katie Merrill via TKO, 3:02 of round 2
- Blas Avena def. Lenny Lovato Jr. via TKO, 1:41 of round 1
- Andres Quintana def. Russell Wilson via TKO, 0:32 of round 3
- Ed West def. Josh Montoya via KO, 2:51 of round 2
- Adrian Cruz def. Nick Gonzalez via submission (scarf hold armlock), 3:00 of round 2
- Josh Appelt def. Josh Lanier via TKO, 0:16 of round 2
- Brennan Ward def. Yair Moguel via submission (rear-naked choke), 0:57 of round 1