Bellator MMA came into Visalia, California to determine finalist for the Middleweight and Heavy Weight tournament finals. It was also an opportunity to showcase the debut of two former UFC heavyweights, Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson.
The heavyweight tournament would be billed as a collision course for a showdown between Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson. However, the tournament underdog from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would play the spoiler. Vinicius Spartan made quick work of Lavar Johnson by knocking him out in only 23 seconds.
Going into the fight Spartan was scared of Johnson’s knockout power. His game plan was to utilize his jiu jitsu early to wear down his opponent but the Noguira brown belt landed a big right hand that dropped Johnson then followed up with additional strikes forcing the referee to stop the fight.
In the main event Cheick Kongo battled Mark Godbeer in what was a slow start with a lot of holding and a few knee strikes below the belt line forcing a stop in the action at one point. After both fighters were encouraged to fight by Referee McCarthy, Kongo utilized an effective clinch game and delivered big knees that would lift his opponent off of the canvas with a final knee that would crumble Godbeer to the ground where it was mercilessly stopped. Congo would win in the second round.
After the fight Kongo indicated that coming into Bellator would be just another opportunity to fight. “I made some mistakes in the cage while fighting for other promotions,” said Kongo in a press conference interview. “I feel I have corrected those mistakes and I am an improved fighter.”
For Vincius Spartan he seemed to be enjoying the moment of scoring an unexpected knockout of Lavar Johnson. “I did not want to get hit early, I was scared of his big right hand,” stated Spartan, “but my God is really big and I won and can not wait to fight Kongo.”