The Bellator MMA cage was at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California on Friday for Bellator 193. It was the promotion’s second event of 2018 and was headlined by a catchweight bout between Lorenz Larkin and Fernando Gonzalez. Larkin made his anticipated Bellator MMA debut last June and was defeated in his first two outings with the promotion. He broke the trend against Gonzalez and picked up his first Bellator MMA win.
Larkin used his speed and footwork to create angles while Gonzalez pressed forward with power punches that mostly missed. Things picked up in the second frame. Larkin started to find his striking range and his jab started finding a home. Gonzalez returned fire at every opportunity but the quicker Larkin proved a difficult target to hit.
In the third round, Larkin started loading up with his right hand looking to find a finish. Gonzalez showed his toughness and determination but was unable to match Larkin’s output and speed. In the closing minute of the fight Larkin opened up with his strikes, landing uppercuts and left hooks followed by elbows and knees. Gonzalez absorbed all of it but came up short on the judges scorecards.
“I came in knowing that he’s tough. I trained hard for this fight and as long as I came out with the W that’s all I wanted,” said Larkin after his first Bellator win.
In the co-main event Saad Awad picked up a unanimous decision win over J.J. Ambrose extending his winning streak to three consecutive fights. It was a competitive bout but Awad proved too much for the veteran fighter.
Awad dictated the pace in the opening round landing leg kicks and punches. Ambrose was slow to find his range to effectively counter strike but came on in the closing moments of the frame. In the second round, Awad’s striking started to take over but opted to take Ambrose to the ground. He took Ambrose’s back but Ambrose scrambled back to his feet only to be drug back to the canvas. After two rounds Awad was in control of the bout.
In the final frame Ambrose closed the distance and took Awad down. He was able to take his back but Awad battled back to his feet and secured a takedown. He landed in side control and mounted Ambrose. He transitioned to Ambrose’s back and looked to sink in a rear-naked choke. He was unable to finish Ambrose but did enough to win on all three judges’ scorecards.
“Every since I started fighting J.J. already had a name. In Southern California everyone knows who he is. He’s a dude that I’ve been watching since I started. It’s an honor to get in the cage with him. I’m glad I came out with the win,” said Awad after the fight.
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AJ Matthews edged out Kendall Grove in middleweight action, snapping a four-fight losing streak. The two engaged in an all striking battle that entertained the fans. Matthews came out aggressive taking the fight to Grove. Grove saw some success with counter strikes but Matthews landed the more powerful shots.
Grove went on the attack in the second frame, but it was Matthews that won the exchanges. The two kept a furious pace with Matthews dictating most of the action. In the third, the two continued to work at a high rate. They engaged in spirited exchanges but it was Matthews that was moving forward most of the time. In the end, he earned a split decision over Grove.
Jake Smith made quick work of Steve Kozola in a lightweight bout that kicked off the main card. They exchange leg kicks in the early going before letting their hands go. Kozola looked to be winning the exchanges when Smith countered with a right hand that stunned Kozola. He followed up with another right hand that sent Kozola crashing to the canvas. Smith followed up with additional strikes that left Kozola unconscious on the canvas. The fight lasted 57 seconds.
Bellator 193 Results:
– Lorenz Larkin def. Fernando Gonzalez by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
– Saad Awad def. J.J. Ambrose by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
– AJ Matthews def. Kendall Grove by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
– Jake Smith def. Steve Kozola by KO (punches) at 0:57, R1
– Tyrell Fortune def. Joe Hernandez by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
– Tyree Fortune def. Michael Quintero by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)