Vegh wins Bellator's 205-pound belt

Updated: March 1, 2013, 1:12 AM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Being difficult to hit has been a key to Christian M'Pumbu's success in Bellator. But despite his small frame for a 205-pound fighter, M'Pumbu utilized solid striking against physically larger fighters en route to becoming light heavyweight champion.

But Attila Vegh isn't just a big light heavyweight, he's massive. And combined with powerful striking, he would be more than M'Pumbu could handle in their title bout Thursday night at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M.

The bigger, stronger Vegh outpointed M'Pumbu to claim the Bellator light heavyweight title.

Vegh won with scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45 on the judges' cards. ESPN.com had it 49-46 for Vegh.

The action was sporadic, but when the fighters engaged it was Vegh (29-4-2) doing much of the damage. He dropped M'Pumbu in the first round with a right hand.

A left hook sent M'Pumbu, who was making the first defense of his title, to the ground for a second time in the bout. While on the canvas, Vegh landed several elbows, one of which opened a cut on M'Pumbu's head.

Though he was hurt on a couple of occasions, M'Pumbu (18-5-1) showed poise and good ground defense to survive. But his offense was lacking and it cost him the title.

Awad knocks out Brooks in 43 seconds to reach final

Saad AwadWilson Fox/Sherdog.comSaad Awad only needed 43 seconds to secure a spot in the lightweight tournament final.

As a professional lightweight Will Brooks had never tasted defeat, but he'd never faced anyone with the punching power and finishing instincts of Saad Awad.

The hard-hitting Awad immediately gave Brooks a taste of his hand speed and power. He landed a hard right hand that wobbled Brooks 20 seconds into the fight.

And once Awad, who was fighting for just the second time inside Bellator, had his opponent hurt he refused to ease up.

Awad delivered more right and left hands until Brooks fell to the canvas. A few more hard punches induced referee Jason Herzog to jump in and rescue Brooks from further damage.

The fight officially ended in 43 seconds. With the knockout victory, Awad secured a spot in the lightweight tournament final.

"I feel great," a tearful Awad said after improving to 14-4. "I'm so happy to be here."

Brooks falls to 9-1.

Rickels overpowers Fischer to reach 155 finals

David RickelsWilson Fox/Sherdog.comDavid Rickels landed hard strikes and powered his way to the lightweight tournament finals.

Much like their first encounter, David Rickels proved too big and too strong for Jason Fischer. As a result, Rickels powered his way to a unanimous decision victory and a spot in the lightweight tournament finals.

The judges scored the rematch 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27. ESPN.com had it 30-27 for Rickels, who improves to 13-1.

"I came in and my hands felt a little heavy, so I showed a little bit of my grappling tonight," Rickels said. "I was a little close on the armbar and the rear-naked; I was really looking to finish."

Rickels won the standup battle by pushing forward consistently and landing hard strikes, mostly punches. Fischer survived the strikes but his aggression on the feet slowed noticeably as the fight wore on.

But standing wasn't the only area where the physically larger Rickels took control. He handled Fischer on the ground as well, attempting at least four submissions.

Fischer, who falls to 6-2, did open a cut over Rickels' left eyebrow in the third round. It appeared a right hand caused the damage.

The win was Rickels' second over Fischer. They fought on Nov. 30, 2012 -- Rickels left the cage with a unanimous decision.