Bellator 96 kicked off the promotion’s summer series with a bang tonight, continuing the trend of rousing knockouts and finishes. King Mo faced off with Seth Petruzelli in the main event, looking to erase the bad memories left by being knocked out by an Emanuel Newton spinning backfist. Lawal needed a win badly to keep his hype train rolling.

As expected, King Mo came out aggressive. John McCarthy halted the action when a head-butt felled Petruzelli. Mo scored a single leg takedown and then he scored an absolutely vicious blast of a right hand that needed no follow up on the ground. An amazing statement win for Lawal, and a spot in the tournament finals.

Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral stepped into the cage looking for redemption from his prior Bellator loss. In the light heavyweight tournament semifinals, he had no easy task in Jacob Noe. As the two began a chess match on the feet, Noe landed some clean shots but was bloodied by Babalu’s jab.  A couple of low blows to Noe halted the action. Babalu landed some hard low kicks in the second but ate some power punches soon thereafter. After Sobral missed a takedown in the third, Noe hit him with some huge shots, and the referee stopped the bout as a blood spattered Babalu wobbled around the cage. Babalu officially retired immediately after the bout, marking the end of a great career.

In the second bout of the heavyweight tourney, Ryan Martinez and Rich Hale went to war in another short-lived bout. Martinez spun Hale to the ground early and finished him off with a ground-rocking series of punches.

In the heavyweight tournament semifinals, undefeated Sambo champion Vitaly Minakov met Ron Sparks. The fight began with an explosion, as Minakov landed a brutal straight right to floor Sparks. It was elementary from there, and Minakov finds himself with a spot in the tournament finals.

War Machine made his return to the cage after a lengthy absence. He looked good from the outset against Blas Avena, getting up from an early takedown to land some crisp hooks. He earned a slam of his own, and later capitalized on a nice trip by locking his opponent into a tight crucifix. After Avena ate an unanswered series of left hands, the ref stepped in and stopped the bout. War Machine proclaimed that he is coming for the Bellator 170 lb. title.

Bellator 96 Main Card Results:

Light Heavyweight Tournament Semifinals: King Mo def. Seth Petruzelli via R1 KO (punch)

Light Heavyweight Tournament Semifinals: Jacob Noe def. Renato “Babalu” Sobral via R3 TKO (ref stoppage)

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinals: Ryan Martinez def. Rich Hale via R1 KO (punches)

Heavyweight Tournament Semifinals: Vitaly Minakov def. Ron Sparks via R1 TKO (punch)

War Machine def. Blas Avena via R1 TKO (strikes)