Michael Chandler and Pat Curran retain their titles

Photo Credit: Esther Lin.

Photo Credit: Esther Lin.

What we had earlier tonight was an artistic success. Whether it was a business success remains to be seen. But it’s safe to say that the title fights were both pretty great in their own ways.

Pat Curran defeated Patricio “Pitbull” Freire via split decision. Two 48-47’s for Curran, one 48-47 for Pitbull. I agreed with the former scorecards. First round was a feeling out process. But the action started picking up in the second round. Pitbull was the aggressor, landing legkicks that Curran wasn’t checking and trying to land hard hooks to Curran’s face. Curran was working counters, trying to land good rib roasters and jabs to Pitbull’s face. In the third frame, Curran landed a nice head kick. Curran’s volume increased as the fight went on. This felt like a pretty high-level striking MMA match, as Curran was looking so fluid and great. But Pitbull had one last flurry at the end as he tried to steal the final round. In the end, I gave Curran Round 2, Round 4, and Round 5. Pat Curran walked away with his featherweight crown and with the reputation for being one of the best fighters on the Bellator roster.

Some people felt that Rick Hawn was going to be a difficult test for Bellator lightweight kingpin Michael Chandler. Hawn has really good grappling, and maybe he would be able to avoid the ground. Perhaps he would be able to land his heavy right hand on Chandler’s chin. Well, the champion didn’t allow that, he speared through Hawn with a powerful take down. He stabbed Hawn’s body with tenacity. Hawn did land a good shot as the first stanza came to an end, but it was a clear Chandler round. The second round, Chandler lifted him in the air and slammed him like Matt Hughes at his most dominant. He then took Hawn’s back, and got a rear-naked choke via gable grip to force the Olympic judoka to tap out. The time of the stoppage came at 3:07 of the second round. Michael Chandler isn’t just the best Bellator fighter on their roster, he’s one of the best lightweights on the planet. He deserves to be talked amongst the best fighters in MMA today. Let’s hope today’s performance helps his reputation with MMA fans.

Also on the card, Renato “Babalu” Sobral was TKO’d by Mikhail Zayats in round one, in the opening match for the light-heavyweight tournament. The other main card fight, was also a light-heavyweight tournament bout. It featured Jacob Noe overwhelming Seth Petruzelli on the ground with punches to win via TKO in the first round.

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