It's reasonable to conclude that word had not spread to the bully. It's possible it had however, it is not proven to be true.Saavedra showed a pocket knife to two teens on the bus that afternoon.
As for the thought about whether the bully was apart of a group doing damage. According to the eye witness videos all the other students were stepped behind the incident and were watching. It was clear also, from the videos, that the feud was between only those two individuals.
It's not the same thing? As far as I know, spitting in someones eye is a physical form of assault. You're obviously saying that the punch is in another league of potential damage dealing. To that I say, you don't know how hard the bully punched the kid. It could be possible that he's a weak puncher and a spit in the eye would be more painful. All of that is irrelevant. All that is relevant is that they're the same form of assault.