UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Emanuel Newton is the formidable unsubmittable. But, after a five-round fight of many twists and turns with British challenger Liam McGeary, he's no longer Bellator's light heavyweight champion.
McGeary won a hard-fought unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46) at Bellator 134 to become the promotion's new 205-pound champ.
Newton found himself in a forest of the challenger McGeary''s constricting limbs for much of the first round. He was in constant danger of getting caught in triangles, armbars and kimuras. But he survived every attempt, and the crowd at the Mohegan Sun let up a huge ovation as the round ended.
Little did everyone know that we'd get four more rounds of the same. Newton and McGeary found themselves in a battle of grappling and scrambles, and in the end Newton -- who fended off submissions throughout from the top -- came out on bottom.
The 32-year old McGeary, who trains at Renzo Gracie's in New York, remains undefeated at 10-0. For Newton, it his first loss since a narrow split decision loss in 2012 to Attila Vegh. Newton's record is now 25-8-1 overall.
In the co-main event, Muhammed Lawal ground Frenchman Cheick Kongo into the mat for the better part of three rounds en-route to a split decision. "King Mo" got inside of Kongo's reach a couple of times early and landed when he did, which helped set up his shots. Midway through the first, he took Kongo down, and for the rest of the round he kept him there. The second round was much of the same, as the crowd at Mohegan Sun began a chant of "stand them up." Kongo did get up late, but couldn't mount much offense.
Though Kongo did have some moments early in the third where he found his range, Lawal continued to bottle him up on the ground in the third. The judges scored it 30-27, 28-29, 29-28 in Lawal's favor.
With the loss, Kongo fell to 22-10-2, while Lawal improves to 15-4-(1).
In the middle fight, UFC and Strikeforce veteran Paul Daley was able to score a unanimous decision over veteran Brazilian fighter Andres Santos. It wasn't easy, though. After a stall in the action in the opening round in which the referee separated the fighters, Daley (36-13-2) was swinging for the fences on "Chatuba." But the Brazilian persevered through the second, even having moments of his own in offense. The third round was all Daley until the closing seconds, as Santos endured a couple of different moments where he was hit with big shots. Santos, however, gained top position late and slammed Daley with all he had. Too little too late, though.
The judges had it 29-27, 29-28, 29-28 for Daley. With the loss, Santos drops to 37-10.
Meanwhile, England's Linton Vassell fought Team Quest's Rameau Sokoudjou, and it was a toil from the opening bell. Vassell looked to wrestle with Sokoudjou early, and took the fight to the mat where he controlled much of the action. In the second, Vassell toiled to get Sokoudjou down, and this time took his back. Once he got back mount, he wailed away until referee Dan Miragliotta waved him off at the TK mark of the second round.
Vassell rebounds from his light heavyweight title fight against Newton, and improves to 15-4-(1). The loss snaps a two-fight win streak for "The African Assassin" Sokoudjou, who falls to 16-13.
To kick off the main card, the undefeated Curtis Millender took on New England native Brennan Ward, who was making his debut at 170 pounds. Millender, who hails from the Inland Empire of California, dropped Ward momentarily with a left early, but the good feelings were short lived. Ward crushed Millender with a right hand less than a minute later, and then swarmed for the rear-naked choke. The official end came at 1:37 of the first round.
After the victory, Ward called out Michael Page.