Liam McGeary successfully legitimized his reign as Bellator light heavyweight champion with a first-round submission win over Tito Ortiz in the main event of Bellator: Dynamite at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
MMA Fighting tweeted out the official time and result:
Ortiz came into the bout hoping to grab some early momentum. He was aggressive in the first round, trying to bring McGeary to the mat. Unfortunately for the 40-year-old, the defending champion was one step ahead of him on the ground. He was able to sink in a slick inverted triangle.
The win marks McGeary's first successful title defense since taking it from Emanuel Newton by decision at Bellator 134. As the old adage says, you aren't officially champion until you defend your belt.
McGeary not only did that, but he did it against the highest-profile fighter he's ever fought. Ortiz, 40, might be long in the tooth, but he's still a light heavyweight legend for his reign as the UFC champion in the early 2000s.
That time is long gone, though. Ortiz came to Bellator on the heels of a 1-6 streak in the UFC. He was able to earn this title shot with wins over a middleweight in Alexander Shlemenko and another veteran in Stephan Bonnar.
With another loss to top-level competition, it's going to be tough for Bellator to market him as a viable contender going forward.
Instead, Bellator execs will have to hope that this win positions their champion in the mainstream MMA conscience. McGeary appears to have what it takes to be one of Bellator's most well-known fighters.
Coming into this fight he had an undefeated record, with all but one of his wins coming by way of either submission or knockout. His combination of size and style makes him interesting to watch in the cage, as noted by Patrick Wyman of Bleacher Report:
McGeary stands an enormous 6'6", and his game revolves around his height and length in every phase of the fight. He is a competent striker who works behind a rangy jab and flicking front and round kicks, and he picks his spots to sit down on crisp punching combinations that pack real power. He is at his best moving forward aggressively, where his punches cover his clinch entries.
Maintaining his status as Bellator champion won't be easy, though. The organization appears to be dedicated to building a strong light heavyweight division. With Phil Davis winning a one-night four-man tournament to secure the next title shot, competition for the belt should be relatively stiff.
Considering all four of the fighters involved are ranked in Fight Matrix's top 25 light heavyweights right now, there's relative depth in the division for McGeary to make a name.
If he turns out to be a star, his win over Ortiz will have been the launching point.