As has become the standard for a Bellator event, last night’s Bellator 94 was packed to the brim with exciting stoppages, grueling decisions, and a fair share of controversy thrown in for good measure.
The main card kicked off with a Season 9 bantamweight tournament qualifier bout between Rodrigo Lima and Ronnie Mann, the latter of which was making his bantamweight debut. As noted by the Bellator broadcast team, the characteristic speed that led Mann to the featherweight tourney semifinals in Season 6 was all but negated against Lima, who outgunned, outgrappled, and plain outworked Mann in every aspect of the fight en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The evening’s next bout was also a season 9 qualifier, this time at welterweight, and pitted Trey “That Just Happened?” Houston (Seriously, that’s his nickname. Do we have a Worst Nickname category for this year’s Potato Awards? Because I think we have found yet another front-runner.) against Luis Melo. In what turned out to be a rather entertaining affair, Houston attempted to turn things into a brawl while Melo opted to take things to the ground as often as possible. After getting rocked and nearly submitted in the second round, Melo was able to turn the tides on a fading Houston in the third and secured an arm-triangle finish just over a minute into the round.
Now, onto the “controversial” ending of the co-main event, lightweight tournament final between David Rickels and Saad Awad. After spending the majority of the first round on the defensive, Rickels was able to get his offense going in the second. As the 10 second clack went off, so did Rickels, unleashing a flurry of punches that ended with a brutal right hand that sent Awad crashing face first to the canvas as the bell rung. While Awad wasn’t exactly Thiago Silva vs. Lyoto Machida unconscious, he was clearly out of it, as he rolled over to his back and was initially unable to get to his feet.
Recognizing this, referee Troy Waugh waved off the bout, which was immediately met with protest by both Awad and commentator Jimmy Smith. Although if you were to ask me, the fact that Awad was on rubber legs the entire time he was protesting should say more about Waugh’s decision than anything else. In either case, Rickels will now face Michael Chandler for the Bellator lightweight title. No word yet on whether he will be forced to trim his Glorious Beard of Absolute Victory before that fight.
Emanuel Newton’s Cinderella story continued in the night’s main event, as he was able to successfully utilize his grappling background and heavy hands to keep fellow tournament underdog Mikhail Zayats off balance en route to a UD victory. Although Zayats was able to land early and often in the first round, Newton secured the second with a few strong takedowns and sealed the deal in the third with a two-punch combo that dropped Zayats. The tough-nosed Russian was able to brave the storm but was ultimately unable to put together anything that could have balanced the round out. With the win, Newton will now face newly crowned champ Atilla Vegh in a rematch of their controversial scrap at Bellator 72 that saw Vegh emerge victorious by way of split decision.
Now, let’s talk about our girl Felice Herrig, the cosplay-enthusiast who got all up in opponent Heather Clark’s grill at the weigh-ins yesterday. In the first round of their card-opening affair, Herrig was utterly dominated by Clark’s relentless top game and positioning. In the second, however, Herrig was able to turn the tables with her trademark combinations and managed to capitalize on a botched headlock throw by Clark to take her back as the round expired.
The third was largely contested on the mat, with Herrig scoring mount at one point and nearly securing a one-armed rear-naked choke. Although Clark was able to wriggle her way out of it and get on top toward the end of the round, things really got interesting after the bell (see above). Apparently still harboring some ill will towards Clark, Herrig decided to engage her opponent in a little post-fight taunting. Clark didn’t appreciate this and promptly backhanded Herrig (because she’s been pimpin’ been since pimpin’ since been pimpin’), who had to be separated by the ref to ensure that a Paul Daley-type incident didn’t occur.
Full results for Bellator 94 are below.
Emanuel Newton def. Mikhail Zayats by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-David “Caveman” Rickels def. Saad Award by TKO at 5:00, R1
-Luis Melo def. Trey Houston by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 1:09, R3|
-Rodrigo Lima def. Ronnie Mann by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Julien Williams def. Kenny Moss by submission (guillotine choke) at 3:19, R1
-Augusto Sakai def. Rob Horton by TKO at 4:01, R2
-Jessica Aguilar def. Patricia Vidonic by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
-Joe Taimanglo def. Ronnie Rogers by submission (north-south choke) at :33, R2
-Edson Berto def. Bruno Carvalho by submission (heel hook) at 1:27, R1
-Tony Fryklund vs. Patrick Cenoble fought to a draw (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
-Felice Herrig def. Heather Clark by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)