Bellator MMA is bringing the finals of their Light-Heavyweight tournament to New Mexico and last night in Thackerville, Oklahoma two fighters punched their tickets to the Bellator 97 event.
Bellator MMA is best known for their tournament formats that build fighters up over the course of their “seasons” to identify the top contender for the weight class. The tournament format has bred Bellator mainstays like Michael Chandler and Ben Askren, both of which went on to become promotion champions and will be competing next month in Rio Rancho to defend their titles.
Back in February, Bellator 91 was held live inside the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho and the promotion brought in some notable names to their debut event in New Mexico. The main event of the evening featured two Light-Heavyweights fighting for the title and fight fans saw Atilla Vegh defeat Christian M’Pumbu to capture division gold. Now Vegh waits for this season’s tournament to name his first challenger.
Last night at Bellator 96, the semifinals of the tournament decided the fate of the division. Jacob Noe was paired with Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Seth Petruzelli faced off with “King Mo” Lawal.
In the first 205-pound tournament bout, Jacob Noe and “Babalu” Sobral went to war as the two fighters exchanged strikes for the course of the first two rounds. Sobral would find a home for his patented leg licks and Noe was constantly sneaking in straight, crisp punches. In the third round, Noe caught Sobral with a flurry and a referee stopped the bout after a visibly wobbly Sobral had taken one too many shots.
In the second tournament bout, King Mo was looking to bounce back from last season’s highlight reel knockout loss and to do it he would be battling a very crisp kickboxer in Seth Petruzelli. The wrestling savant Lawal took down Petruzelli with a single leg takedown and started to work his ground and pound. Petruzelli dangerously fought back from his open guard which Lawal worked from comfortably. Nearly a minute and half into the bout, Lawal would look to clear the legs and throw an overhand simultaneously and it landed with impact. Lawal put Petruzelli to sleep instantly.
With two emphatic finishes, Noe (12-2) and Lawal (10-2) punched their ticket to fight one another for the chance to win Bellator gold. New Mexico fight fans have to be excited for this fight to be scheduled for Bellator 97 as we already have two title fights expected to be on the card. In all, Rio Rancho is expected to host Ben Askren and Michael Chandler defending their Welterweight and Lightweight titles as well as this tournament final between Noe and Lawal.
Stay tuned to SWFight.com for more Bellator 97 fight announcements, coverage and bout breakdowns. We expect a solid undercard featuring local fighters and the main card already looks promising in that it is full of world class fighters.