The opening round of Bellator MMA's Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament came to a crashing close on Saturday night in San Jose, California, when Ryan "Darth" Bader needed all of 15 seconds to defeat Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal via knockout in the culminating showdown of Bellator 199.
The main fights of the evening that led up to Bader's stunning victory over Lawal offered various styles of victory, from Jon Fitch's drag-it-out ground approach to Aaron Pico's dangerous hooking, and they showcased both young and old -- take the 40-year-old Fitch, for example, topping Paul Daley on the same night a youthful Pico disposed of the seasoned Lee Morrison in a hurry.
But it was Bader's instant thriller against "King Mo" that shut down the night in emphatic fashion, with Lawal (21-7) failing to deliver even a single shot despite his reputation for fighting any time, anywhere and any weight. Bader (24-5) is now set to take on Matt Matrione in the grand prix semifinals after his third straight win since joining Bellator MMA, and the former 205-pound champion should have plenty of energy left over after his Saturday night bout with "King Mo."
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CBS Sports was with you throughout the night with results from each main card fight. Check out the action and highlights below.
Bellator 199 fight card/results
Ryan Bader def. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal via first-round knockout
Fifteen years after facing off in NCAA wrestling, "Darth Bader" needed just 15 seconds to top his long-anticipated adversary, "King Mo," and he did it with a left hook that stunned Lawal and sent his 37-year-old opponent right to his behind and clinched a shocking first-round heavyweight knockout -- the seventh-fastest KO in Bellator history.
So much for a rousing finish to the night, unless you're Ryan Bader, who was a favorite to take the evening's main event despite Lawal, who topped Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in March 2017, assuring doubters he was finally back to full health. Hit flush in the jaw with a crack that echoed throughout the cage and almost assuredly caught him by surprise, "King Mo" hardly even had a chance to show his stuff before Bader, the bigger fighter of the clash, used his left fist to advance to the grand prix semifinals.
Jon Fitch def. Paul Daley via unanimous decision
Boos rained down on Paul Daley and Jon Fitch for a fight that hardly stayed off the mats and against the cage, but the latter played the long game -- a smart game for him against the free-swinging "Semtex" Daley -- to down his younger counterpart on the ground. While it may not have been flashy, with only Daley unloading a slurry of knees, elbows and uppercuts during the latter 40 seconds or so of Round 1, the fight put Fitch's grinding mentality on display, with the 40-year-old pinning Daley to the cage in all three rounds and pounding away with hits from the top position.
By the final minute of action, Daley could be heard complaining to Fitch about the style of the fight and joining the crowd with a couple of mock jeers -- all while Fitch earned his fifth straight victory and first win at Bellator.
Aaron Pico def. Lee Morrison via first-round knockout
The Aaron Pico Show got underway as soon as he and Lee Morrison touched gloves, with both featherweight competitors firing early shots and making an immediate case for most intense main card fight of the night. Morrison didn't hesitate to attack from the get-go, but it was the 21-year-old phenom, with a powerful swing that could've been felt by fans outside the cage, who prevailed just 1:10 into Round 1 with a left uppercut and scarily quick follow-up shot to the liver -- a killer punch that sent Morrison tumbling backward onto the mat. And that came after a previous hook that had Morrison on the floor.
Freakishly aggressive and quick with his fists, Pico improved to 3-1 with his quick win over Morrison, cementing himself with yet another first-round finish as the top up-and-coming prospect in MMA.
Cheick Kongo def. Javy Ayala via first-round knockout
Javy Ayala asked for a fight, and he got one. He just wasn't ready. Looking to jab early on against 42-year-old Cheick Kongo, Ayala first got neutralized by some grappling -- a characteristically "boring" attribute of "Darkness." But when he finally broke free for a swing at his opponent's head, it was Kongo who came through with the knockout punch with his back to the cage -- a clean right-hand counter punch right to Ayala's jaw. The Frenchman then delivered a handful of follow-up shots once Ayala dropped to the mat, and Kongo was officially awarded his sixth consecutive victory once the referee stepped in.
Kongo's win shut down Ayala with still 2:30 left in Round 1, providing an unusually sudden and exciting flair to his latest victory.
Adam Piccolotti def. Carrington Banks by third-round submission
Carrington Banks may have entered his lightweight bout with Adam "The Bomb" Piccolotti with a perfect 7-0 record, but perfection was hard to come by in the first of Bellator's main card fights. Piccolotti overcame a Round 1 body lock to flatten Banks in Round 2, then keep absolute control of his undefeated opponent with a tight body triangle. By midway through the final round, Banks found himself back in the same position despite some early flashes, and Piccolotti closed the deal with 19 seconds remaining to score the submission victory.
Attacking the neck and refusing to let it go, Piccolotti not only tarnished Banks' perfect record but re-established his own momentum with an in-control performance to snap a two-fight losing streak and earn his fifth career submission win.
Bellator 199 prelims
Deron Winn made his Bellator debut in stunning fashion on Saturday night. Winn got his fourth straight win to open the Bellator 199 prelims, knocking out Ahmed White, who was making his professional MMA debut out of California, to win in the first round. It was also Winn's fourth straight KO.