Bellator’s eighth season kicks off tonight on Spike TV (10/9c), and now that the promotion has left Friday nights, you might even be thinking about watching the show. Here’s why that’s a good idea…
1. Michael Chandler is the second-greatest undefeated fighter in the world. Since winning Bellator’s lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez in November 2011, Chandler has competed exactly once — a 56-second TKO of Akihiro Gono in a non-title mismatch last May. Now carrying a perfect record of 10-0, Chandler is once again facing a legit challenge in the form of Rick Hawn, the former Olympic judoka and Bellator mainstay who dropped down from welterweight last year and swept the Season 6 Lightweight Tournament.
2. Pat Curran is also an entertaining son-of-a-bitch. Undefeated at 145 pounds, Curran also competed just once last year, when he very nearly ended Joe Warren’s life to win Bellator’s featherweight title. We’ve been itching to see him back in the game, and he’ll be leading off tonight’s Spike broadcast with a belt-defense against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Speaking of guys who have been sidelined for a while, Pitbull hasn’t been in the cage since he won the Season Four Featherweight Tournament in 2011, partly due to a broken hand suffered in training last year.
3. The card features an orgy of UFC light-heavyweight castoffs. In LHW tournament quarterfinal action, Renato “Babalu” Sobral will be making his Bellator debut against Mikhail Zayats, and Seth Petruzelli will face Jacob Noe, in his first appearance since KO’ing Ricco Rodriguez in August 2011. In addition, the Spike.com prelims (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT) feature a match between Jason Lambert and Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez. (I had to check Wikipedia to make sure those two didn’t previously fight on a UFC card sometime in 2006-2007. They didn’t.) Nobody would mistake these guys for top-ranked 205′ers, but they do have a proven track record of exciting slugfests — and at least you know who they are.
4. Mike Guymon continues his lightweight comeback. Joker’s 2010-2011 stint as a welterweight in the UFC ended in a disappointing 1-3 tally, with all three of his losses coming by first-round submission. Since then, Guymon has dropped to lightweight, picking up a pair of rebound wins for BAMMA USA. Now he’s back on a bigger stage, facing journeyman Savant Young on the Bellator 85 prelims. A win here could revitalize his career.
Honorable mention: Jamie Yager, one of TUF‘s most aggravating heels of all time, will be making his Bellator debut against Joe Williams during tonight’s prelims. Who knows — maybe he’ll get his ass kicked.