Bellator 199: Bader vs. King Mo took place on May 12 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The card marked the last semi-final qualifying bout in Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix. The card featured a number of big fights with recognizable names.
Veteran heavyweight Cheick Kongo took on Javy Ayala. Ayala tried clinching and takedowns early, looking to take his hard-hitting kickboxing specialist opponent out of his element. Kongo was game, defending well and landing a few short knees. Kongo worked leg kicks early, then connected with a right-hand counter after Ayala lunged in with an overhand right.
Ayala was stunned, and Kongo followed up with a half-dozen unanswered shots before the referee halted the bout. Kongo has become one of the most successful heavyweights to move from the UFC to Bellator, extending his winning streak with the promotion to six.
Aaron Pico took on Lee Morrison and landed the first significant shot of the fight in an early exchange. Pico attacked the body as Morrison continued to be the aggressor, then landed a right-hand counter off a kick attempt. Morrison weathered a storm on the ground, but a left hook hurt him badly soon after he got back to his feet. He was down again, and Pico followed up with more ground and pound en route to a TKO victory at just over a minute into the first round. Following a disappointing debut, Pico has compiled a three-fight winning streak.
Former UFC title contender Jon Fitch took on Paul Daley in a classic striker-versus-grappler matchup. Fitch stuck to his usual style, relying on grappling and pressure to outwork his opponent. He did have to withstand some flurries as Daley tried to make the most of his striking opportunities, but Fitch’s smothering style kept him neutralized for most of the bout. Fitch scored a unanimous decision victory, but Daley joined the crowd in mock boos over the technical but somewhat uneventful fighting style.
The main event saw light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader taking on Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. The bout started off with a bang, as Bader landed a powerful left hook that sent his foe crashing to the mat. Bader pounced and finished up things quickly, turning in a short day at work and getting the stoppage win over Lawal in only fifteen seconds. He’s now in line to face Matt Mitrione in the tournament’s semi-finals, and the two have history.
“He’s my buddy,” said Bader. “But he’d better get his a** to wrestling practice.” Mitrione, while the bigger man, has always had more success on the feet than the mat. Bader’s strong wrestling pedigree wasn’t on display when he fought Lawal, but he may need it against Mitrione. Bader said he knew he had the tools to succeed, and through his skill and the team around him, it was the perfect time for him to win the tournament.
As for Lawal, he’s expressed plans to change weight classes after the loss.