Bellator’s first event on Spike TV will take place Thursday, January 17th, at the University of California’s Bren Center in Irvine, California, and will be headlined by a pair of title fights. The promotion confirmed the news today, revealing that undefeated phenom Michael Chandler will make his first official lightweight title defense at the event (aka Bellator 85) against Rick Hawn, the 14-1 Olympic judoka who won the Season 5 lightweight tournament earlier this year.
Also on the card, featherweight champion Pat Curran — who’s 4-0 since dropping to 145 and is coming off his near-murder of Joe Warren — will be putting his belt on the line against explosive contender Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Though Freire won all three of his fights in 2011, winning the Season 4 featherweight tournament, he wasn’t able to compete in 2012, partly due to injuries.
And that’s not all. During a Bellator/Spike TV conference call held earlier today, many more details about Bellator 85 and the promotion’s upcoming eighth season were announced. For instance…
“It starts with the way the fans don’t think for themselves,” Lawal stated. “They have to look to certain people for approval on how they think. They bash the fighters and think fighting is easier than it really is. A lot of people didn’t grow up fighting. They grew up playing football and basketball. So they can relate to missing a pass, a layup, free throws and dropping a pass, an interception or kicking a field goal.
“MMA fans never grew up fighting. They just put on their Affliction or Tapout shirts and say, ‘Hey I’m a fighter or hey I’m going to a fight.’ To me, its a joke. It is a certain demographic that’s involved and I’m not with that.“
Lawal was fired from Strikeforce after testing positive for a banned steroid and is currently serving out a nine-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Because of that suspension, Lawal will have to wait to be able to compete under the Bellator banner — but since he’s also signed with TNA, he can conceivably begin making some money much sooner since professional wrestling is not regulated as a competitive sport by athletic commissions. Lawal signing with both organizations fuels rumors that Bellator and TNA — both of which air on Viacom-owned television channels and, starting in 2013, will appear on Spike TV — will somehow collaborate or cross-promote.
Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal — avid Twitterer, occasional forum poster and all around social media force, has been noticeably absent from the ever-probing eye of the MMA world. Recently, it came to light that Lawal had some life threatening health concerns, and had been in the hospital for an extended period of time. A call to action has been issued on his behalf via concerned fans on various forums and Twitter. Prayer groups, emergency PayPal funding and several other good intentions have been proposed as possibilities for fans to render their own brand of help and good will. In an exclusive interview yesterday that will put your worried minds at ease, Mo gave us the 411 on his injuries, current health and financial status, and even an update of what shows he’s currently watching.
I fully expect tonight’s liveblog turnout to be more of an “intimate” affair, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do our best to give you a good show. Round-by-round results from the “Rockhold vs. Jardine” main card broadcast will be piling up after the jump starting at 10 p.m. ET, courtesy of CagePotato liveblog up-and-comer Steve Silverman. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for coming, guys.