To put it mildly, I’ve been skeptical about Bellator’s non-title fights in the past. They’ve all been total squash fights, and light-heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu actually managed to lose his against Travis Wiuff back at Bellator 55. Last night didn’t exactly make me a believer in non-title fights, but I won’t act like I wasn’t impressed with lightweight champion Michael Chandler after his performance against Akihiro Gono.
Chandler followed up his brilliant fourth round rear-naked choke over Eddie Alvarez back at Bellator 58 with a quick TKO over Akihiro Gono. After catching Gono early with a straight right, Chandler pounced on a stunned Gono and rained down punches until he earned the stoppage. Michael Chandler improves to 10-0 overall, with six fights ending in the first round.
At the post-fight press conference, Akihiro Gono announced his retirement from MMA. Gono has lost three fights in a row, and his record now stands at 32-18-7. His most recent victory was a unanimous decision over Diego Gonzalez at Sengoku 12 in March 2010. While it’s never easy to watch an icon of the sport retire, it’s even harder to watch him continue to lose. Thanks for the memories, Magic Man.
All videos props to IronForgesIron.com
In Welterweight Tournament action, Bryan Baker survived an early salvo from UFC veteran Ben Saunders to pick up a unanimous decision victory. Saunders appeared to have Baker in trouble early, attempting numerous submissions, including a flying triangle and a triangle transitioned into an armbar that appeared to have Baker locked up. However, Baker defended the submission attempts from Saunders well, and found success with his takedowns throughout the rest of the fight.
Surprisingly, not only did Baker earn numerous takedowns throughout the fight, but he also got the better of many of the standup exchanges as well. Saunders managed to find success in the clinch, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to earn the victory. Baker improves to 18-3 overall, and will meet the winner of Karl Amoussou vs. David Rickels in order to determine who gets the next shot at Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Also of note, the Ontario, Canada crowd was treated to a victory from Canadian fan-favorite Ryan “The Real Deal” Ford. Ford earned a second round TKO over the always game Luis Santos. After getting rocked early, Ford crumbled Santos with a brutal knee to the body and kept punching until he earned the stoppage. Ford improves to 18-4, with only one victory coming by way of decision.
And oh yeah, a heavyweight bout between Damian Grabowski and Dave Huckaba happened. Grabowski won by unanimous decision. Trust me, that’s all you need to know.
Michael Chandler def. Akihiro Gono via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:56
Bryan Baker def. Ben Saunders via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Ryan Ford def. Luis “Sapo” Santos via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:24
Damian Grabowski def. Dave Huckaba via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Will Romero def. Matt Veal via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:25
David “Bo” Harris def. Nick Kirk via (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Cosmo Alexander def. Lorawnt-T Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nordine Taleb def. Matt MacGrath via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:30
Dom O’Grady def. Nathan Gunn via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 4:51