Ben Askren is evolving.
On a night that many expected Askren's smothering top position and submissions to do Karl Amoussou in, it was Askren's new ground-and-pound that put away the Frenchman in his latest Bellator welterweight title defense in the main event of Bellator 86 on Thursday night at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Prior to the bout, Askren predicted a finish and he delivered. It was his second stoppage under the Bellator banner and his first since he submitted Ryan Thomas in his promotional debut back in April 2010.
"Funky" took control of the bout early in round one, putting Amoussou on his back and battered him with punches, opening a cut above his left eye. He continued with more of the same in the second round, and the swelling on Amoussou's face started to take its toll.
Amoussou briefly had a moment in round two after finding himself on top of Askren during a scramble. The rare opportunity to see Askren fight off of his back was short-lived though, as he was able to regain top control after slipping out of an Amoussou heel hook attempt.
Askren slammed Amoussou to the mat at the start of the third round, and Amoussou was visibly spent, a look of disappointment meeting his face as he fell against the canvas. Askren continued to punish Amoussou throughout round three, blood spewing from Amoussou's face and both of his eyes nearly swelling shut, prompting many in the crowd and at home to call for a stoppage.
It was halted following the round at the cageside doctor's discretion, handing Askren his 11th victory as a pro.
"I told you guys it was just a matter of time until my hands got some power in them," Askren said during his post-fight interview. "I can dominate with my position and I have power in my hands. If you're a welterweight... anywhere in the world. you better watch out, I'm coming."
King Mo KO's Mysiala in Bellator debut
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal made his return to action a quick and painless one, picking apart Polish veteran Przemyslaw Mysiala en route to a first-round KO win.
Lawal elected to fight on the feet, likely a product of his recent training with famed boxer trainer Jeff Mayweather. He showed extreme patience and precision, rarely getting caught throwing a wild strike, and all of his strikes thrown were punches.
Mysiala was busted open a minute into the proceedings courtesy of Lawal's quick jab. Lawal eventually ended the fight with a combination jab and right uppercut that floored Mysiala. Lawal simply walked away and with Mysiala dazed, referee Kerry Hatley simply waved things off.
In other televised bouts on Spike, former welterweight title challenger Douglas Lima continued his road back to the belt, stopping Michail Tsarev with an onslaught of leg kicks 1:44 in the second round of their welterweight tournament quarterfinal bout.
Also moving on in the 170 lb. bracket are UFC veteran Ben Saunders who earned a clear-cut unanimous decision over Koffi Adzitso as well as Brent Weedman, who stifled Marius Zaromskis over three rounds and Raul Amaya, who scored a TKO of Jose Gomes in a one-round slugfest.
Jason Sampson def. Chris Pham - Submission (Armbar) R3, 4:55
Damon Jackson def. Zack Church - Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R2, 2:43
Cortez Coleman def. Matt Jones - Unanimous Decision
Hunter Tucker def. Javier Obregon - Submission (Guillotine Choke) R2, 3:17
A featherweight contest between Mike Maldonado and Joseph Salas was cancelled due to time constraints.
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