Bellator returned Wednesday night to Thackerville, Oklahoma for the first of three summer series events with Bellator 96. The event featured the first round of both their four-man heavyweight tournament and 4 man light heavyweight tournament, and the finals are set to see who gets the next shots at the belts.
In the main event, it was Muhammed Lawal who stayed calm early when Seth Petruzelli came out aggressive. Once Lawal had enough of the leg kicks he shot in on the takedown and began to work inside the guard of Petruzelli. Lawal stood up while Petruzelli was on his back swinging to land upkicks when he threw Petruzelli’s legs aside and landed a thundering right hand that put him out cold.
In the co-main event it was Renato Sobral who was clearly undersized and slower against Jacob Noe. Noe seemed to have his timing down early, and although “Babalu” made a fight out of it, every shot that Sobral was landing Noe was landing two or three. In the third round, the ref had seen enough after Noe turned the heat up on Sobral, and, although the Brazilian never went down, he stopped the fight. The fans in attendance didn’t like the call, but it was clear at home that he was done. Noe was awarded the win, and afterwards Sobral announced his retirement in the cage. The win sets the table for a match between Noe and “King Mo”.
In the first heavyweight bout it was last minute replacement Ryan Martinez who overwhelmed Richard Hale with strikes on the undercard. On the main card, Vitaly Minakov landed a few mean jabs early on in the round against Ron Sparks, and eventually one of them introduced Hale to the canvas. This sets up the final match between Minakov and Martinez.