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‘Bellator MMA Dynamite 1’ light heavyweight tournament prediction and preview

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Bellator and Glory will bring a high octane blend of mixed martial arts and kickboxing to the west coast tomorrow and with 21 fights on the docket, Bellator President Scott Coker will be under the microscope as his unique vision unfolds in real-time inside of San Diego’s SAP Center.

Coker has constructed an event, a homage of sorts to K-1 & PRIDE/DREAM, that is unprecedented when it comes to North America. Does the North American audience have the patience to sit through 21 fights? Is kickboxing finally ready to break through stateside? We will discuss none of these things in the following article.


When Coker announced Dynamite he unveiled it as a “three-tier hybrid show” – a mixed martial arts card headlined by Tito Ortiz and LHW champion Liam McGeary, a Glory Kickboxing card and a 4-man one night tournament to decide the next challenger for the winner of McGeary and Ortiz. This article will concentrate on the third tier of tomorrow night’s show. So without further ado, let’s take a quick gander at the four man, one night affair.

Muhammed Lawal (15-4) vs. Linton Vassell (15-4)

London’s Vassell is the dark horse of this 4-man, one night tourney – there simply aren’t a whole lot of folks who are giving him a chance to escape the 1st round let alone win it all. Will King Mo look to rely on his NCAA Division I wrestling pedigree in this one; it’s his comfort zone and it’s his best bet if he wants to frustrate his opponent. Or will he look for the quick KO? He certainly has the power to knock anyone out in the division and he may want to save his energy for his second fight of the night.

When it comes to submissions, Vassell has the edge over Mo. The problem there is that Mo does not make many, if any mistakes when the fight hits the mat. Vassell may want to take his chances on the toes with Mo and trade shots. If Mo loses this fight it’s because he’s thinking too much about the next fight. This is the kind of matchmaking that is tailor made for him to represent in the finals. Prediction: Mo via TKO (GNP) 

Emanuel Newton (25-8-1) vs. Phil Davis (13-3)

Former champion Emanuel Newton already two victories over fellow tourney competitor Muhammed Lawal and is coming off an absolute war that saw him drop the strap to the current champ, Liam McGeary. On this particular night, Newton will introduce 13-fight UFC vet Phil Davis to the Bellator cage in the 1st round of this 4-man one night tourney.

Davis is a freak who has yet to live up to his full potential as a mixed martial artist. In the biggest victory of his career thus far, Davis out Machida’d Machida in Brazil  earning a UD victory after a 15 minute chess match. One thing Davis won’t be able to do in this fight is out Newton Newton. “The Hardcore Kid” can brawl with the best of them. Aside from his pro MMA debut, Newton hasn’t been (T)KO’d over his last 32 fights. Davis needs to keep his distance if he wants to save his energy and advance to the finals. In my opinion, this fight is custom-made to elicit boo’s from the San Diego faithful. Newton has what it takes to make it a dog fight, but Davis is far too smart to let him. Predicton: Davis via UD.

Finals: Muhammed Lawal vs. Phil Davis

During his UFC career, Davis was the resident underachiever of the light heavyweight division. His wrestling caused problems for the guys he was supposed to beat yet we saw Rashad Evans dominate him on the ground and he was unable to set up anything to get Ryan Bader there. He never graduated to that next level.

Lawal on the other hand has shown us that he can frustrate and eliminate opponents on the mat. The days of Davis’ insane submission wins over UFC #1 contender Alexander Gustaffson (who was very green at the time) and Tim Boetsch have come to a close. If he can get by Newton, Davis is in for a rude awakening against this freestyle wrestling powerhouse.

In order to get to the finals, all Lawal has to do is beat himself. To earn another shot at Bellator gold, Mo has to use his full arsenal to outwork and outclass Davis. Prediction: Mo becomes the first man to finish Davis and does so via TKO in the 3rd round

Alternate Bout: Francis Carmont (23-10) vs. Anthony Ruiz (33-20)

Let us not forget about tournament alternates Francis Carmont (23-10) and Anthony Ruiz (33-20). The last time Coker put on a high-profile tournament, an alternate by the name of Daniel Cormier emerged victorious by defeating Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett after he replaced Alistair Overeem in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix.

It’d be fitting for “Limitless” to make a stand tomorrow night. After all, CBS will be debuting their T.V. version of the Bradley Cooper film with the same name this coming Tuesday night in the States. Like Davis, Carmont  just never hit his stride during his UFC stint. The streaky Tristar standout shouldn’t have an issue with Ruiz though. The tough as nails journeyman doesn’t have what it takes to beat someone on Carmont’s level, which means if anything unfortunate and untimely happens to either winner of the 4-men on the main bracket he will be well rested and ready to steal some headlines.

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