All of the hype coming into the Bellator season four lightweight final was about Patricky ‘Pitbull’ Freire, but Michael Chandler simply refused to be denied.
The former All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri, knocked off the heavily favored Freire, earning a unanimous decision victory and the Bellator season four lightweight championship, along with a match-up against Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
Chandler stood with the dangerous ‘Pitbull’ for most of the first two rounds, getting inside just long enough to land strikes, before getting back out of range. It proved to be an effective game plan as Freire had trouble finding his range until the second round.
Surprisingly, Chandler only attempted one take down in the first frame, which was stuffed, and as the second round started it was clear that Chandler was looking to take Freire into deep waters to test his endurance and will.
Chandler kept a relentless pace into the second round, but Freire started to unleash the types of strikes that has built his highlight reel on his run to the finals. ‘Pitbull’ landed a flying knee that backed up the wrestler, but Chandler kept coming, clinching and putting Freire against the cage. Chandler landed a knee to the groin that stopped the action and received a warning for his second low blow.
After the restart, Freire seemed re-energized, landing combinations– his best of the night– then established his jab. Freire continued to score with his jab, bloodying the face of Chandler, who looked to steal the round late with a take down. Chandler got the fight to the mat late, punishing Friere with short, grinding elbows, and landed significant ground-and-pound up until the bell sounded on the second frame.
After the third groin shot of the night from Chandler in the final round, a point was deducted from the scorecards. Chandler wasted little time making up for his mistake, elevating and slamming Freire to the mat.
From the top position, he then unleashed a heavy does of hammer fists, along with a barrage of right hands to put the finishing touches on an excellent three-round performance.
When the scores came in, all three cards were scored 29-27 in favor of Michael Chandler (8-0 MMA, 2-0 SF, 5-0 BFC).
“Patricky, he’s the man. You guys have seen his highlight reel, knocking dudes out,” said Chandler. “I just thank God [for] being here, and that we had a war.”
Hector Lombard extends unbeaten streak to 23 with KO of Falaniko Vitale
Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard has said that he doesn’t try for knockouts, but that they just find him.
After a slow start in his bout with Falaniko Vitale, a smattering of boos from the crowd broke out, but it took only one punch to change the boos to cheers, as yet another knockout “found him.”
Lombard started aggressive in the first, but Vitale stayed conservative, well aware of the one-punch KO capability of the champion. Lombard remained patient throughout the round, not pressing the action and landing one or two punches at a time as Vitale looked to stay outside and avoid a costly exchange.
The second round played out similar, as Lombard played the aggressor, stalking Vitale. Vitale managed to briefly clinch and land a knee, but after the break, Lombard began stalking again. Not many of the strikes landed, and as the pace slowed, more boos erupted from the crowd.
Lombard came out aggressive in the final stanza, as did Vitale, and it proved costly to the former University of Hawaii football player. After stepping forward and landing a strike to the body of Lombard, the champion countered and uncorked a right hand that found it’s mark and abruptly ended the fight.
Vitale dropped to the mat, quickly stood — completely out on his feet — then dropped again to the canvas.
The one-punch KO extended Pro MMA’s longest unbeaten streak to 23 for the Bellator middleweight champion. Lombard (29-2-1 MMA, 7-0 BFC) has not lost since 2006, when he lost to former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi.
Giedrius Karavackas comes from behind to submit Sam Oropeza
Sam Oropeza dominated the action from the start, lacing Giedrius Karavackas with kicks to the body and head as the judoka struggled with the reach and length of Oropeza. Oropeza took the second round also, after a late take down and a subsequent dose of ground-and-pound from the top continued until the bell sounded on the round.
Karavackas turned to his strength late in the third and turned the tables after a trip take down and subsequent side control allowed him to isolate the right arm of Oropeza. After alternating between applying pressure from the scarf hold, and dropping a flurry of left hands, Karavackas snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with just over a minute to go in the final round.
Oropeza tried desperately to scramble out of trouble, but could not free his grotesquely twisted arm. Karavackas finally abandoned his striking and torqued his hips to finish the fight with the scarf hold and key lock, getting the tap from Oropeza.
It was an impressive comeback victory from Karavackas in his Bellator debut. The win moves Karavackas to 5-1 overall, and 1-0 under the Bellator banner.
Alexander Shlemenko wins, earns spot in Bellator season five middleweight tournament
Alexander Shlemenko went five rounds with Bellator middleweight kingpin Hector Lombard in a loss last year, and has said he wants another shot at the champion. Before another shot at Lombard could become a possibility, Shlemenko would need a win over Brett Cooper at Bellator 44 to gain access into the organization’s season five middleweight tournament.
Shlemenko got his win in a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Cooper.
The striking prowess of Shlemenko proved to be too much for the gritty and tough Cooper, who found himself on the wrong side of a varying and effective striking attack from Shlemenko.
Shlemenko opened the fight in a southpaw stance and used arrow-straight lead left hands to connect early. Cooper tried to take the fight to the ground on multiple take down attempts, but Shlemenko was able to defend and stay on his feet, renewing his stand-up attack.
Mixing up his strikes, Shlemenko went to his spinning attacks — with spinning backfists and kicks — but it was in the clinch where he did the most damage, dropping Cooper with a knee to the body. Cooper got back to his feet, but the round was a dominating one for Shlemenko.
Cooper settled down in the second round, adjusting to the timing of Shlemenko, and a counter right hand down the middle seemed like a fight changer as Shlemenko dropped where he stood. He immediately got back to his feet however, and Cooper went back to his game plan of taking the fight to the mat. The action stalled on the cage, with Cooper working on several take down tries, but was unable to control Shlemenko on the ground when he got him there.
Both fighters showed visible fatigue in the final round, and Shlemenko sealed the deal with a brutal assault of knees in the clinch. Cooper dropped after taking a knee to the body, and after getting back to his feet, landed several clean uppercuts to counter the clinch game of Shlemenko.
After going to the cards, Shlemenko (39-7-0 MMA, 4-1 BFC) was awarded a unanimous decision victory that punches his ticket for the Bellator season 5 middleweight tournament.