Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez did their part to give Bellator Fighting Championships their own personal Griffin vs. Bonnar on Saturday night.
In a lightweight title fight for the ages, Chandler and Alvarez battled it out deep into the fourth round before the upstart challenger clipped the incumbent champion, then finished him with a rear naked choke.
Chandler was the aggressor as soon as the fight started, stalking forward and caught Alvarez with a shot and then flurried on him against the cage. Alvarez came back with a big shot of his own, rattling Chanlder’s chin and backing him off.
The second round saw Chandler again headhunting for Alvarez, trying to put together the perfect combination to sink the Bellator champion. As close as he came on a couple of occasions, Alvarez escaped and came back strong in round three.
Alvarez started pushing the pace more with his strikes in the third round as Chandler slowed and it appeared the early onslaught left his reserves in question. Chandler stopped putting together as many combinations, and Alvarez looked like he was back in business.
That was until the fourth round.
Like he got a shot of adrenaline between rounds, Chandler woke up in the fourth round and started gunning for Alvarez all over again. Chandler caught the champion and staggered him, but this time he rushed to the mat to get the position he needed for a finish.
Chandler quickly advanced to mount and started to punish Alvarez, until the Philadelphia native rolled away, trying to escape. Instead, Chanlder sunk his legs in and looked for the rear naked choke. With nowhere to go and no escape in sight, Alvarez tapped Chandler’s arm, signifying the end.
Chandler becomes the new Bellator lightweight champion after one of the best fights in MMA history, and becomes the first fighter in over two years to hand Alvarez a loss.
“I’ve got to say my face looks pretty darn good,” said Chandler after the win. “Eddie’s the man, I don’t know that we could do a better fight that that. He brought it to me the whole time.”
Chandler now moves to 9-0 as a pro fighter, and 6-0 in Bellator.
“I told you I was going to be standing right here, over a year ago, I told you I was going to be standing right here,” Chandler said with the Bellator belt around his waist.
As for Eddie Alvarez, the loss is a tough one to swallow considering his placement as a top ten lightweight, and Bellator’s longest reigning champion. Still, Alvarez took the loss as nothing more than a fight that will be remembered for the ages, and he was a part of it.
“Me and Joachim Hansen fought a fight like this not too long ago, and in this case I don’t think there’s any losers on this one. Congratulations Mike,’ said Alvarez.
Hector Lombard won his 20th fight in a row on Saturday night as the Bellator middleweight champion dismantled veteran Trevor Prangley.
Lombard showed no fear of the South African’s takedowns, and just continuously looked to land the knockout blow to put the fight away.
Finally, in the second round Lombard landed the shot he was looking for that left Prangley on wobbly legs. Lombard stormed in and hammered away at Prangley until he got the stoppage win.
Lombard now moves on to face recent Bellator tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko, who gets a second shot at the title after a unanimous decision loss to him in 2010.
Jessica Aguilar avenged the first loss in her professional career with a dominant win over Lisa Ellis-Ward, to pick up her third win in a row.
Aguilar beat Ward to the punch throughout the fight, and peppered her opponent with good combinations and quick striking. The victory move Aguilar one step closer towards her goal of facing Megumi Fujii in the near future.
Kicking off the Bellator broadcast, Marlon Sandro made quick work of Rafael Dias, but not without almost getting finished himself. Sandro got caught with a good shot from Dias on the feet that dropped him, but luckily he recovered quickly.
It was Sandro’s turn for a slick move because he grabbed a standing arm triangle choke before pulling Dias to the mat, where he got the submission locked tighter and eventually got the tap.