The Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals are set, and it didn’t take much time to do it.
At the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., Ryan Bader took on Muhammed Lawal in a rematch from their college wrestling days where Lawal beat Bader by tech-fall. The light heavyweight champion got his revenge on Saturday night though, knocking out “King Mo” just 15 seconds into their main event fight at Bellator 199. Bader caught Lawal with a short left hook with the first exchange of the bout that sent a crack throughout the arena and dropped Lawal to the canvass. A few follow-up punches was enough to seal the deal for Bader and punch his ticket to a semifinal fight against Matt Mitrione later this year.
In the co-main event of the evening, Jon Fitch made a successful Bellator debut, grinding out Paul Daley over the course of 15 minutes. Daley had some brief success at the end of the first round when he seemed to hurt Fitch against the fence, but once the second round started, the former UFC welterweight title challenger took Daley down repeatedly and dominated position. In the third round, with the fight clearly lost and Fitch controlling him with backmount against the fence, Daley took out his frustrations by yelling into the camera about how this fight would not please Bellator fans. The win likely sets Fitch up for a title shot against current champion Rory MacDonald.
Elsewhere on the card, MMA super prospect Aaron Pico proved that his last win was no fluke, turning in another first-round body shot KO performance. Pico melted Lee Morrison with a brutal left hook to the liver early in the fight. The win moves Pico to 3-1 in his professional career maintains Pico’s spot as MMA’s most exciting prospect.
It was a night of knockouts on Saturday as Cheick Kongo recorded his first stoppage win since 2014, knocking out Javy Ayala with a brutal right hand early in the first round. The win was Kongo’s 10th in Bellator, making him the winningest heavyweight in the company’s history. It also could put him in position for an alternate spot in the heavyweight grand prix should something befall the winner of next week’s Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson fight.
In the opening bout of the evening, Adam Piccolotti dominated the heavy favorite Carrington Banks, outclassing banks in the grappling department. Banks had some success early with takedowns but as the fight progressed Piccolotti was able to get the better of the ground exchanges, taking Banks back several times and threatening with a number of submissions before finally sinking in a rear-naked choke with 20 seconds left in the fight. The win moved Piccolotti to 10-2 in his career and snapped his two-fight losing skid.