There wasn't much on the line, but Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler fought tonight at Bellator 67 as if his opponent - PRIDE and UFC veteran Akihiro Gono - was as dangerous as any elite fighter could conceivably be.
Chandler went right to work, staying light on his feet and backing up Gono up with feints and single punches. In just 56 seconds, however, the former Division I All-American was able to land several hard right hands that dropped Gono to the mat. From there Chandler followed up with lightning quick ground and pound until the referee was forced to save Gono from any additional punishment.
According to MMA Junkie's Robert Sareant, Gono announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts competition at the post-fight press conference. If true, Gono ends his MMA career with a 31-18 professional record. He holds notable wins over Ivan Salaverry, Gegard Mousasi, Hector Lombard, Hayato Sakurai and Yuki Kondo.
In tournament action, Bryan Baker edged out Ben Saunders to reach the finals in the season six welterweight tournament. Despite what appeared to be a near finish for Saunders in the first round with a combination armbar-triangle attack, Baker managed to escape and use his physical, bruising style of imposition to earn a unanimous decision.
After tense moments in the first, Baker rebounded quickly. In addition to ending round one by taking Saunders' back, Baker continued to dominate the takedown and was able to positionally control Saunders as well as unload significant ground and pound from a variety of positions on top while avoiding the offensive guard of the American Top Team product.
Perhaps most importantly, Baker was also able to win virtually any and all positional wrestling scrambles where if only for brief moments Saunders was on the advantageous side of his attacks.
Baker will now face the winner of Karl Amoussou vs. David Rickels in the finals of the welterweight tournament. The winner will earn an eventual title shot against current welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Catch up on all the full results from tonight's card from the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada.