Bellator 96 main card results/gifs: Lawal, Noe, Minakov, Martinez all advance by TKO - Bloody Elbow

Bellator 96 took place tonight from Thackerville, Ohio, featuring the opening semifinal round of the 2013 Summer Series Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight Tournaments.

Seeking redemption after Emanuel Newton's shocking upset via spinning back fist in last season's brackets, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal shared the headlining role with Seth Petruzelli in the 205-pound tourney semifinals alongside the Renato "Babalu" Sobral vs. Jacob Noe bout. Ron Sparks vs. Vitaly Minakov and Ryan Martinez vs. Richard Hale kicked off the Heavyweight tournament semis and War Machine made his Bellator debut versus former WEC fighter Blas Avena in a welterweight feature fight.

The results are posted below and accompanied by animated gifs courtesy of Bloody Elbow's Zombie Prophet.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal vs. Seth Petruzelli -- LHW Tournament semifinals

Lawal made a statement by dispatching Petruzelli quickly and violently. Petruzelli came out strong with quick boxing that was occasionally accented by a leaping front kick, and his busy assault kept Lawal at bay at first. After a short pause due to an inadvertent clash of heads, King Mo dropped levels for a takedown, stood up, cleared Petruzelli's legs and wound up with a diving haymaker that pulled the curtains. The end came at just 1:35 of the first frame.

* Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal defeats Seth Petruzelli by KO (punch), Round 1
Renato "Babalu" Sobral vs. Jacob Noe -- LHW Tournament semifinals

Noe, a hulk-size 205er with quick and heavy hands, established himself in the 1st round with stiff one-twos and left hooks while pummeling under-hooks to defend Babalu's takedowns. Likely a tad behind going into the 2nd, Babalu uncorked a nice arsenal of low kicks from outside and bored a fast, snapping jab through Noe's guard to regain ground, but Noe still landed his share of thumps with the same jab-cross and left hook medleys, also landing short knees in the clinch after stuffing Sobral's shots.

It was "Psycho" Noe's persistence with crisp, short-range counter-punching that made the difference, as his methodical stalking paid off in the 3rd with a flurry that wobbled Sobral and split his cheek open. Babalu was on roller-skates as Noe swarmed with more punches, and the referee intervened when Sobral listed aimlessly across the cage. This prompted a shove from the angry Sobral, who had showed some irritation earlier after the second of two pauses for low blows he'd landed to Noe. The question of whether Sobral would be fined and/or suspended lost emphasis when he announced his retirement after the loss.

Jacob Noe defeats Renato "Babalu" Sobral by TKO (punches), Round 3
Ryan Martinez vs. Richard Hale -- HW Tournament semifinals

Martinez, a late replacement for Vinicius Queiroz, capitalized on the opportunity in full. Facing a substantial height and reach disadvantage, Martinez patiently awaited the chance to knife into range and work his wrestling, which came in the form of a powerful body-lock takedown. After Hale clipped him with a heel kick from guard, Martinez showed ridiculous punching power by putting Hale out with one quick and short jackhammer, then added a few more in for good measure. The definitive 1st-round stoppage is the second in a row for Martinez, who laid out veteran Travis Wiuff with a standing combo in his last turn.

Ryan Martinez defeats Richard Hale by KO (punches), Round 1
Ron Sparks vs. Vitaly Minakov -- HW Tournament semifinals

Undefeated Russian Vitaly Minakov maintained his perfect record with a precise right cross that knocked Sparks off his feet just 30 seconds in. The Combat Sambo champion gave him no time to recover and pelted down more leather until the referee stepped in.

* Vitaly Minakov defeats Ron Sparks by KO (punches), Round 1

The finalists are now set in the 2013 Summer Series Light-Heavyweight tournament with Muhammed Lawal vs. Jacob Noe and in the Heavyweight Tournament with Ryan Martinez vs. Vitaly Minakov.

We're experiencing some technical difficulties in uploading the War Machine vs. Blas Avena and preliminary card gifs, so you'll have to settle for gif-less results from here on out, starting with Brent Brookhouse calling the main-card opener in tonight's Bellator 96 discussion thread.

War Machine vs. Blas Avena - Round 1 - War Machine is stalking early and he throws a flurry but Avena catches him and takes him down. War Machine is able to get up and land a few shots before getting a takedown of his own. Avena gets up and they're engaged against the cage with Avena landing to the body with a series of knees. Machine looks to be tiring but he does get the takedown and he's got a mounted crucifix. Avena can't do anything about the punches he's eating and that's it. War Machine wins by TKO (punches from mounted crucifix), round 1.

Bellator 96 Preliminary Card Results

* Chas Skelly defeats Jarrod Card by unanimous decision
* Keith Berry defeats Cortez Coleman by split decision
* Mike Maldonado defeats Chavous Smith by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1
* Damon Jackson defeats Keith Miner via TKO (punches), Round 1
* Raphael Butler defeats Jeremiah O'Neal by TKO (punches), Round 1
* Brandon Halsey defeats Joe Yager by split decision
* Derek Campos defeats Brandon Girtz by unanimous decision
* Justin McNally defeats Steven Artoff by submission (inverted triangle/armbar), Round 1