St. Louis, Missouri – It took 15, hard-fought minutes to get the job done, but Emmanuel Sanchez did enough to convince 2 out of the 3 judges that he deserved the nod over a game Justin Lawrence.
Bellator 145: Vengeance will take place November 6, 2015 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The event will air live in prime time on Spike TV following the preliminary card on MMA Mad. Justin Lawrence vs. Emmanuel Sanchez took place on the main card which aired live on Spike TV.
Lawrence had an easy time of it early in the first, landing kicks and hard counters at will. Sanchez was clearly the slower fighter and was having issues with his opponent’s timing from the start. The 25 year old hometown favorite looked to setup combos and found success with blows to the body when Sanchez pressed forward . Sanchez, who entered the cage on a quick turnaround after competing last September, forced a clinch and moved the fight to the cage in the final minute of Round 1, but was unable to score in the position and soon found himself circling again when the bell sounded.
The front kicks, combos, and body shots kept coming for Lawrence when the 2nd frame was still young, but Sanchez fought his way into the clinch much sooner than he had in the 1st round. Blood started to stream from above Justin Lawrence’s right eye as he defended against take down attempts. Big John McCarthy restarted the action with around 1 minute remaining in the stanza, allowing Lawrence to momentarily get back to his striking , but Sanchez was able to land a head kick with only seconds left that sent Lawrence stumbling backwards towards the cage. The round came to a halt with both men once again clinched together against the cage.
Emmanuel Sanchez refused to give up on trying to get the fight to the mat and briefly had Lawrence down after another clinch, but Sanchez soon found himself on his own back trying to work from guard. Sanchez continued to look for submissions and land short elbow strikes as Lawrence seemed to be content to lay in the position and burn time. Finally, Lawrence was able to pass guard, but ended up defending against more submission attempts before going back to the feet in the final seconds of the bout.
The results appeared to be leaning in Lawrence’s favor before the judges’ decision was announced, but Emmanuel Sanchez was ultimately awarded his second consecutive split decision victory. The Roufusport representative is now 3-1 in Bellator’s featherweight division, losing only to former champion Pat Curran while competing for the promotion.
Emmanuel Sanchez moves to 12-2 with the upset victory, while Justin Lawrence fell to 8-3, snapping his 4-fight win streak.