Bellator 154 Phil Davis vs. King MoMay 19 2016, Posted in: Fighters
Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo
A highly anticipated night of fights at the SAP center in San Jose California, including bouts between top Light Heavyweights Phil Davis and King Mo Lawal, alongside some of the rising stars of the sport. Of course it wouldn’t be right to use the phrase, “Rising stars of the sport”, without mentioning the tragic loss of one of the most promising young talents in the Bellator organization, Jordan Parsons. The 25 year old Parson’s was 11-2 as a professional and poised to become one of Bellator’s top 145 lbs fighters, until he was struck by a vehicle in a hit and run accident just 10 days prior to his scheduled bout against Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 154. This event was dedicated to his memory, Parsons was only 25 years old.
Bout #1: (Welterweight) Andre Fialho (7-0) vs. Rick Reger (7-1)
Looking at the tale of the tape these two fighters looked quite evenly matched, yet one distinct stat separated them as Fialho enjoyed a seven inch reach advantage; the importance of which became evident in the very first round. The two fighters clashed with Reger landing three hard, unanswered, leg kicks in the opening ten seconds, and several more in the exchanges to follow. The extraordinarily confident, even non-chalant, Fialho ate every leg kick without so much as a flinch or thought of checking them. It was clear by his body language that Fialho was not concerned with the kicks effecting his endurance or movement, because he was looking to make short work of Reger. As Fialho began throwing combinations it seemed like every punch he landed was significant, rocking Reger with jabs, uppercuts, and devastating overhand rights. Reger fought with tenacity and heart but the 22 yr old phenom Fialho was too much for him, finishing Reger with a five punch combination at two minutes and eleven seconds in the first round, earning his eighth professional win and fifth first round finish in a row. The undefeated Fialho looks to be more than ready to test his skills against one of Bellator’s top 5 welterweights.
Bout # 2: (Lightweight) Adam, “The Bomb”, Piccolotti (7-0) and Ray, “All Business”,Wood (7-1)
This match was initially supposed to be between Piccolotti and the late Jordan Parsons, but with the loss of Parsons it was featherweight up and comer Ray Wood who stepped up on 10 days notice to challenge the undefeated Adam Piccolotti. The opening of the fight showed a confident Wood feeling out his opponent, throwing some dynamic side kicks, and testing his range against the slightly larger Piccolotti. The tides turned drastically in Piccolotti’s favor after a caught kick and a takedown put the 27 year old Raul Castillo Jiu-jitsu Black Belt in top position. A favorite quote of Piccolotti’s is by the legendary French Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between”, and it was the space between dominant position after dominant position that he showcased his truly unique brand of Jiu-jitsu for MMA. To the grappling Leigh man what happened next may have looked like a classic striker vs grappler scenario taken to its logical conclusion, but Piccolotti’s innovative transitions, incorporation of strikes in unorthodox positions, and relentless control over Wood was truly a master class for grapplers seeking to make their way into MMA. Piccolotti conducted a concerto of strikes, submission attempts, and positional dominance that ended in the percussive tap of Wood’s hand on his forearm as it wrapped around Wood’s throat, constricting the blood flow to his brain, and earning Piccolotti his eighth win and second straight Rear Naked choke victory. Following the fight Piccolotti expressed his desire to fight again as soon as possible, and leaving unscathed with such a dominant performance against a game opponent, it is likely that we will see him again very soon.
Bout #3: (Bantamweight) Joshua, ”Zookeeper”, San Diego (6-1) vs. Jeremiah Labiano (9-3)
This fight was fairly even with the momentum leaning slightly in each fighter’s favor. Labiano won a few short lived takedowns and landed some impressive strikes at the end of round 1. The major difference in this fight was the relaxed, elusive, and unpredictable movement of JSD, who had Labiano looking flat footed and one step behind in the striking. In the third round we saw more of the same but in the last 30 seconds JSD made a slick transition to the full mount off of a takedown attempt from Labiano; once there he landed a slew of punches and elbows on the bloodied Labiano. As the final bell rang JSD stood up with a smile, confident that he had swayed the judges, and rightly so as he won the unanimous decision (29-28) and moved his record to 7-1.
Bout #4: (Catchweight, 160lbs) JD Hardwick (Pro Debut) vs. Jorge Acosta (1-1)
This fight was definitely what JD Hardwick had in mind when making his debut as a professional in Belllator. The fight was entirely one sided with Hardwick landing textbook knees from the clinch and put Acosta to sleep with a power Guillotine choke at 1:21 in the very first round.
Bout #5: (Welterweight) Saad, “The Assassin”, Awad (18-7) vs. Cyborg Santos (21-16)
Santos came out early man handling Awad with a takedown against the cage. Awad, active off of his back, set up an arm lock from his guard but as Santos slipped out of it he fell back directly into a heel hook attempt reminiscent of his recent Heel hook victory 30 seconds into round 1 of his fight against Bellator standout Brennan Ward at Bellator 153. Santos came close to finishing a few leg lock attempts but his commitment to the submission victory was his downfall as Awad peppered him with over 100 unanswered strikes until the referee was forced to stop the fight at 4:31 of the first round. Awad improves his record to 19-7 and looks to move back down to lightweight seeking a top 3 opponent and calling out the injured Josh Thompson.
Main Event: (Light Heavyweight) King Mo Lawal (19-4) vs. Phil, “Mr. Wonderful”, Davis (15-3)
This was a highly anticipated fight that should have been the finals of the Bellator 142 Dynamite Tournament, had Lawal not been injured in his semi-final bout. Both fighters are veterans of MMA and Collegiate wrestling, both are coming off of huge knockout victories, and both were fired up as there was no love lost between them. From round 1 it appeared that Lawal was looking to advance on Davis, pin him against the cage, and looking for the knockout shot. Davis had other plans however, he was elusive, unpredictable, and as the fight went on he got more and more comfortable; mixing it up with good movement, consistent switches in stance, and effective integration of his punches and kicks. There were definitely moments where Lawal was able to land some shots and even a takedown on Davis, but Davis seemed to have a lead on Lawal’s offense. Davis was able to put himself out of the range of Lawal’s infamously powerful right hand. The most action we saw in this fight was in the final 2 minutes of the third round, in which Davis rocked Lawal with several punches into a double leg takedown. Once on the ground Davis dominated Lawal with his wrestling, and nearly finished him with a Kimura from Half Guard which Lawal deftly escaped at the last moment. As the final bell rang it was apparent that Davis had won the fight in the eyes of the judges: Davis will face Light Heavyweight champion Lliam McGeary for the Light Heavyweight title in early 2017.
Written by Michael Murrell
Michael Murrell is a Judo blackbelt and Ralph Gracie jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt who teaches BJJ and Judo at his school, The Cave Academy, in Pacifica California. He is a freelance writer for fightstylez.com/new and can be contacted at Thecavebjj@gmail.com.
Picture by Dave Fong, fightstylez.com/new.