(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting.com)
If we needed any more proof that Michael Chandler deserves to be mentioned among the world’s best 155′ers, we got it last night at Bellator 85 in Irvine, California, when the reigning Bellator lightweight champion made decorated judoka Rick Hawn look like it was his first time on the mats. Chandler completed his takedowns with impressive ease, and when he saw an opportunity to take Hawn’s neck during a scramble in round two, he seized on it, sinking a rear-naked choke and showcasing the killer instinct that has now become a hallmark of Chandler’s game. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a fight, and this season’s lightweight tournament field doesn’t suggest that his next challenger will make things any harder for him. On the bright side, Chandler may have just established himself as Bellator’s greatest home-grown fighter — a budding superstar for the promotion’s new Spike TV era.
While Michael Chandler made his title defense with little resistance, reigning featherweight champion Pat Curran faced a much trickier test in Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Their title fight (which led off the Spike TV broadcast) played out as a 25-minute kickboxing match, which started slow but built into an entertaining and evenly-pitched battle. Curran’s striking was just a little more active and accurate, however, and if you were judging on facial damage through the fight, Pitbull’s swollen-shut right eye and bloodied mouth didn’t exactly scream “winner.” When the scores were announced, “Judo” Gene LeBell saw it for the challenger, but the other two judges made the right call in awarding the win to the defending champ.
In addition to the two title fights, Bellator 85′s main card also featured a pair of light-heavyweight tournament quarterfinals. Unfortunately, those UFC castoffs we mentioned yesterday are well on their way to becoming Bellator castoffs as well, as Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Seth Petruzelli were steamrolled by their lesser-known competitors. Russian M-1 Challenge vet Mikhail Zayats stunned Sobral with a spinning-backfist near the end of the first round of their fight, then swarmed him to the canvas and fired down punches until the fight was stopped. (Eddie Alvarez’s wife called that shit, you guys.)
It was an unexpected finish, but not nearly as strange as Petruzelli’s anti-climactic showing against Jacob Noe, in which the Silverback blew out his knee during a takedown attempt midway through the first round, and immediately turtled up as Noe ground-and-pounded the crap out of him. Ah well. We still have King Mo, right?
In prelim action, Emanuel Newton advanced in the LHW tournament bracket by choking out Atanas Djambazov, and UFC vet Jason Lambert pulled off a slick first-round armbar against Hector Ramirez in a non-tourney bout. Plus, Savant Young ended Mike Guymon’s brief lightweight comeback in violent fashion, and Jamie Yager indeed got his ass kicked. Hooray! Full results from Bellator 85 are below…
- Michael Chandler def. Rick Hawn via submission (rear-naked choke), 3:07 of round 2
- Jacob Noe def. Seth Petruzelli via TKO, 2:51 of round 1
- Mikhail Zayats def. Renato Sobral via TKO, 4:49 of round 1
- Pat Curran def. Patricio Freire via split-decision (48-47 x 2, 47-48)
- Aaron Miller def. Joe Camacho via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Jason Lambert def. Hector Ramirez via submission (inverted straight armbar), 3:59 of round 1
- J.J. Ambrose def. Brian Warren via submission (guillotine), 0:50 of round 2
- Emanuel Newton def. Atanas Djambazov via submission (rear-naked choke), 2:21 of round 2
- Savant Young def. Mike Guymon via KO, 0:48 of round 2
- Joe Williams def. Jamie Yager via TKO, 4:02 of round 1
- Cleber Luciano def. Mario Navarro via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)