On Friday, Sept. 20, Bellator MMA hosted its 100th event from the Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix.

In the night’s main event, former American Top Team training partners Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders collided for a second time. The bout marked the finals of the promotion’s season eight welterweight tournament. The winner walked away with a $100,000 payday and a future shot at the 170-pound belt. During the pair’s previous meeting at Bellator 57, Lima scored a second-round knockout.

The main card also featured the opening round of the season nine welterweight tournament as War Machine faced Vaughn Anderson, Rick Hawn took on Herman Terrado, Brent Weedman locked horns with Justin Baesman, and Ron Keslar met Luis Melo.

Undercard action featured bantamweight tournament action between Brandon Bender and Travis Marx, as well as UFC veterans Clifford Starks and Efrain Escudero, and undefeated prospect Bubba Jenkins.

The five-fight main card aired live on Spike TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET, while Spike.com streamed the rest of the 12-fight event.

Lima knocks out Saunders, claims welterweight tournament

Friends became foes once again and the result was the same as Douglas Lima once again finished Ben Saunders, this time by second-round knockout. The win earned Lima his second tournament win and another crack at Bellator gold.

The fight began with both fighters throwing a variety of kicks. Lima scored with a powerful kick that forced Saunders to look for a takedown against the cage. Lima defended and kept the fight upright. A small cut appeared over the left eye of Saunders from a short shot from Lima. Lima scored with another big kick and swept the legs out from under Saunders in the final minute of the frame.

As the fighters traded early in round two, Lima delivered a massive right  uppercut that sent Saunders crashing to the mat. Lima followed Saunders to the mat and worked hard for a finish. Saunders survived but his left eye swelled and bled badly. Saunders desperately looked for a leg lock from his back, but Lima escaped and the fight returned to the feet. In the final minute of the round, Lima unleashed a vicious head kick that put Saunders out for good along the cage.

War Machine chokes Anderson unconscious

War Machine (formerly Jon Koppenhaver) earned the fourth and final spot in the welterweight tournament semifinals with a second-round submission win over Vaughn Anderson.

Machine scored with a takedown in the opening minute, landing in Anderson’s guard. Machine passed to side control and rained left hands from the top position. Anderson briefly recovered his guard, but Machine passed to the mount. Anderson tied up Machine’s arm and swept into the guard. The fighters returned to the feet but Anderson scored with a double-leg takedown. Anderson allowed Machine to stand as the bell to end the round sounded.

The second stanza saw Machine land another takedown along the fence. A big right hand allowed Machine to pass to the crucifix and drop an onslaught of left hands. Anderson turned to escape, but gave up his back in the process. Machine delivered right hands from the dominate position as he patiently worked for a rear-naked choke. Anderson defended momentarily, but Machine eventually choked him unconscious.

Hawn cruises past Terrado

Former lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn returned to the welterweight division and earned a slot in the semifinals by cruising past Strikeforce veteran Herman Terrado.

Terrado missed with a looping right hand that allowed Hawn to clinch and press the fight against the fence. The fighters separated and Terrado looked to turn the fight into a brawl. Hawn continued to put his weight on Terrado against the cage, looking to wear Terrado down as the round expired.

Round two opened similarly to the first, as Terrado pressed forward aggressively and Hawn pinned him against the fence. Hawn scored with a low kick-right hand combination that put Terrado on his heels. Terrado continued to throw wild shots that Hawn easily avoided. The stanza ended with Hawn tossing Terrado to the mat for the first time.

The aggression of Terrado was slowed in the final frame and Hawn went on the attack. Hawn scored with counter hooks and uppercuts to keep Terrado at bay. Hawn’s pace paid dividends late as Terrado appeared exhausted. Hawn never let up as the fight saw the scorecards.

Keslar dominates ‘Sergio Junior’

Bellator newcomer Ron Keslar scored a big upset, topping Luis “Sergio Junior” Melo by decision to punch his ticket to the 170-pound tournament semifinals.

Keslar caught a kick early and put Melo on his back. Keslar followed him to the ground and looked to attack the Brazilian’s neck. Melo worked back to his feet along the fence as Keslar continued to push forward. The pair traded knee strikes from close quarters as Keslar pressed Melo against the cage until the round came to a close.

In round two Keslar delivered a huge right hand that sent Melo crashing to the canvas. Melo managed to survive and he briefly looked for a kneebar from the bottom. Keslar took Melo’s back with both hooks and worked for a rear-naked choke. Melo fired punches from the perilous position, but Keslar maintained control for the remainder of the frame.

Melo sensed he was down on the scorecards in round three. He scored with a flying knee and then latched onto Keslar’s neck and pulled guard for a guillotine choke. Keslar patiently waited for Melo to release the submission attempt, but ate a barrage of hammerfists in the process. With Keslar working for a takedown, Melo looked for an armbar, but gave up position. Keslar took Melo’s back once again and searched for a rear-naked choke until the fight concluded.

Surprisingly, one of the judges at cageside scored the fight for the Brazilian Melo, but the other two judges dissented and gave the fight to Keslar.

Weedman taps Baesman

Brent Weedman became the first semifinalist in the season nine welterweight tournament with a first-round submission win over Justin Baesman.

The welterweights traded kicks early until Weedman tripped Baesman to the canvas. Weedman passed to side control and quickly attacked Baesman’s left arm. Baesman defended the initial attempt, but Weedman transitioned to a Russian armbar and forced Baesman to tap.

FULL RESULTS
Douglas Lima def. Ben Saunders by knockout (head kick). Round 2, 4:33 – season eight welterweight tournament final
War Machine def. Vaughn Anderson by technical submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 4:01 – welterweight tournament quarterfinal
Rick Hawn def. Herman Terrado by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) – welterweight tournament quarterfinal
Ron Keslar def. Luis “Sergio Junior” Melo by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – welterweight tournament quarterfinal
Brent Weedman def. Justin Baesman by submission (armbar). Round 1, 3:20 – welterweight tournament quarterfinal
Efrain Escudero def. Zack Surdyka by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Liam McGeary def. Beau Tribolet by knockout (punch). Round 1, 0:27
Travis Marx def. Brandon Bender by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:28 – bantamweight tournament semifinal
Larue Burley def. Bubba Jenkins by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 3:40
Clifford Starks def. Joe Yager by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Siala-Mou “Mighty Mo” Siliga def. Dan Charles by TKO (punches). Round 3, 1:26
Adam McDonough def. Johnny Buck by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:51

Photo: Douglas Lima (Sherdog)