Bellator 175 provided the backdrop for Muhammed "King Mo" to dish out revenge against heated rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. The former Strikeforce champion came out victorious in his rematch against Jackson by unanimous decision.
While the result was flipped this time, the fight actually played out similarly to their first encounter in 2014.
King Mo won the first round with relative ease thanks to a dominant wrestling game that allowed him to take Rampage down and control the fight against the cage for the majority of the first frame. It was an effective approach but not a fan-friendly one as noted by Mike Chiappetta of Bleacher Report:
Although Jackson looked like a completely different fighter at a robust 253 pounds for this fight, he still had his trademark power. It was his ability to do damage with his hands that made it appear that he had turned the fight in his favor in the second round.
Rampage landed a series of left hands that had King Mo in trouble and earned him the second round.
But conditioning is hard when fighting nearly 50 pounds over your normal fighting weight. Jackson didn't have enough gas in the tank to overcome his exhaustion as Lawal took the momentum back in the third and final round, earning the nod on the cards.
Overall, this wasn't the prettiest of fights, but it did serve the purpose of getting a big name on the card as Bellator continues to look to grow its brand. The main event wasn't the only action the Chicago crowd got to see as plenty of the organization's homegrown talent was on display.
Here's a look at the complete results from the night as well as a close look at all the main card action:
- Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal -- Lawal UD 29-28 X3
- Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Marcos Galvao -- Sanchez UD 30-27 X3.
- Sergei Kharitonov vs. Chase Gormley -- Kharitonov KO 3:55 R1.
- Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter -- Lahat RNC 3:50 R2.
- Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts -- Kozola KO 0:28 R1.
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Justin Patterson -- Buckley UD 30-27, 29-28 X2.
- Prince McLean vs. Adam Maciejewski -- unaired before Spike.
- Damian Norris vs. Tom Shoaff -- Norris UD (30-27 X3).
- Matt Paul vs. James Bochnovic -- Bochnovic RNC 4:30 R1.
- Nate Williams vs. Manny Vasquez -- Vasquez UD 30-27, 29-27, 29-28.
- J.D. Hardwick vs. Tim Cho -- Cho TKO 2:43 R3.
- Brian Akins vs. Mike DeLaVega -- DeLaVega SD (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Marcos Galvao
Emmanuel Sanchez's rise up the Bellator rankings saw a big boost in a unanimous-decision win over Marcos Galvao. The 26-year-old simply outclassed a former Bellator champion in Galvao all three rounds en route to the decision win.
Sanchez's weekend didn't get off to a great start when he failed to make weight at Thursday's weigh-ins, but he certainly didn't look out of shape. He utilized his volume and space to force Galvao to fight on his heels.
Bellator MMA showcased a combination that exemplified Sanchez's movement:
Picking up this win was another important step toward becoming a bonafide contender for the featherweight title. After the fight, he addressed the weight issue while asking to be considered for the next title shot:
Missing weight is an egregious offense, but if Sanchez can figure out how to consistently get to 145 pounds, his striking is strong enough to give him a chance against anyone in the division.
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Chase Gormley
Coming off a 16-second knockout loss to Javy Ayala, there was concern that Sergei Kharitonov was officially shot.
He made that look silly against Chase Gormley.
Shortly after Bellator announced that it would be crowning a new heavyweight champion in 2017, Kharitonov threw his name in that ring with a massive right cross and right uppercut that turned into a walk-off knockout in the first round.
Among all the major signings by Bellator lately, it's easy to overlook Kharitonov. He lost his debut in devastating fashion, but as Adam Martin of DraftKings notes, his resume is consistently underrated:
This wasn't just a case of Kharitonov landing first. The Russian had to walk through some damage from Gormley and patiently wait for the right opening. But when it came, he was able to close the door pretty quickly showing that he still has some power in his hands.
In a heavyweight division that doesn't currently have a champion, that's enough to be relevant.
Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter
For the second time in as many attempts, former Israeli Defense Force member Noah Lahat walked away with a rear-naked choke victory.
Although this had the appearance of a showcase fight for Lahat, there was a small moment of doubt. Carter connected on a jab that briefly sent Lahat to the floor, but it didn't take long for the former UFC fighter to bounce back and dominate the rest of the first round.
From there, Lahat took even fewer chances in the striking game and instead went to plying his trade on the ground. Not many people have success against Lahat there, and it wasn't long before he was locking in the rear-naked choke.
Lahat is now 2-0 under the Bellator banner and appears to be convinced he'll have a spot on the upcoming card in New York in June, per Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting:
Lahat is definitely an interesting name to look at in a fairly deep featherweight division. Carter wasn't the fighter to put his skills to the test, but he's got the kind of skills that he's going to be a tough out for anyone in the division.
Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts
Fun fact: Steve "Thunderbeast" Kozola will just keep swinging at you until you aren't in front of him anymore.
Fortunately for everyone else, Jake Roberts was the one that found out that little tidbit about Kozola. The 27-year-old was fighting in front of a hometown crowd in Chicago, but they didn't get to watch him fight for very long.
Roberts came into the bout with a 7-1 record that included six finishes of his own, but Kozola took just 28 seconds to turn out the lights for Roberts due to a vicious combination that all started with a clean left hook.
After the bout, Kozola wasted no time in making his intentions clear. He called out recent Bellator signee and jiu-jitsu standout Dillon Danis, per Bellator MMA:
Between the highlight finish and a lively post-fight interview, Kozola quickly established himself as one of the night's biggest winners.