Before you enjoy the final fight from the opening round of Bellator MMA’s Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2018, let’s first set the stage. Ryan Bader (24-5) came in as the reigning Light Heavyweight champion, opting to test himself in the tournament to see if he could be a champion in two weight classes. Muhammed Lawal (21-6, 1 NC), meanwhile, had just come off a win over mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2017, but had been inactive for almost a full year following that bout.
“King Mo” Lawal had previously described himself as a “money weight” fighter who could take any bout at any size, and he had certainly proven it with a win over Cheick Kongo and his victorious run through Rizin’s 2015 Heavyweight Grand Prix. “Darth” Bader had a four-fight win streak and a large chip on his shoulder, so it would be up to Lawal to knock it off.
And Bellator 199 on May 12, 2018, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., would be his chance
Fifteen seconds after referee Mike Beltran gave both fighters their final instructions, one man was left standing and the other was asking for the license plate of the truck that hit him. Lawal lunged forward with a jab and Bader backed away. Bader moved to the center again and uncorked a left hook that set Lawal down right on his behind. Bader swarmed and gave Lawal no chance to recover, pummeling him on the ground until Beltran made the save.
It’s one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of moments in MMA history. Indeed, if you got up to get a beer or take a leak, the fight was already over by the time you sat back down.
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