If nothing else, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson gave an honest assessment of his performance after Bellator 157.
Fighting for the first time in 14 months, Jackson eked out a lackluster split decision over Satoshi Ishii in the main event at St. Louis' Scottrade Center, winning the catchweight 225-pound bout on scores of 29-28, 28-29, and an odd 30-27.
And the former UFC light heavyweight champ admitted his fifth win in a row wasn't his greatest performance.
"I think it was very close and it could have gone either way," Jackson (37-11) said. "Ring rust is a real thing."
The 29-year-old Ishii (14-6-1), a 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist for Japan, put his judo skills to good use in the opening round, as he repeatedly used inside trips to get Jackson to the mat and ultimately keep him there.
By the middle of a close second round, though, Jackson adjusted and did better work in the clinch, landing uppercuts and better sprawling Ishii's takedown attempts.
The third round was the clearest in favor of "Rampage," as he kept things standing and landed punches whenever he felt like it. He didn't come close to finishing the fight, but it was enough to get the decision.
"Ishii just, he's a gold medalist in judo, and he judoed me," said Jackson. "I had to adjust and make some changes as the fight went on."
The bout was Jackson's first in Bellator since May, 2014, when he decisioned King Mo Lawal. In the interim, he got into a contract dispute with former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, and competed at UFC 186, where he defeated Fabio Maldonado, before settling his Bellator case and returning.
"I'm going to take a quick vacation," Jackson said. "Then I'm going to come back strong and keep kicking ass."
Chandler (15-3) landed an absolutely perfect, powerful right hand which landed flush on Freire's left cheekbone and caused him to drop cold to the floor. The end came at 2:14 of the opening round.
With the victory, Chandler, who was in his first fight as a member of the Blackzilians, won the title which was vacated by Will Brooks when the latter recently parted ways with Bellator and signed with the UFC. Chandler's first reign was from 2011-13.
"I'm extremely excited," said Chandler, who also defeated Freire at Bellator 44. "I'm just getting better, getting better every single day, I want to be the best in the world."
Chandler's 13th career finish was also his third consecutive victory. Freire dropped to 3-3 in his past six fights.
San Diego's Ilima MacFarlane improved to 4-0 with a second-round victory over Rebecca Ruth (6-2) in a women's flyweight bout.
The opening round was a back-and-forth affair and may have gone in Ruth's favor, as her aggressiveness pushed the pace. It backfired in the second round, though, as MacFarlane, a teammate of Liz Carmouche, got MacFarlane's back early on and kept going for rear-naked choks. Ruth tried to stand and shake her, but MacFarlane's third attempt at getting the choke was the charm, as she got the tap at the 3:00 mark.
"She was really tough," MacFarlane said. "I could hear her choking the entire time but I softened her up with punches and elbows and finally got to sink it in when she stood up, so props to her. Amazing best experience of my life."
In the main-card opener, Matt Mitrione's Bellator debut was certainly memorable. In the heavyweight's first bout since jumping over from the UFC, Mitirone survived a a huge right hand on the kisser from California journeyman Carl Seumanutafa, then rallied to knock out his opponent later in the round.
Mitrione (10-5, 1 NC) covered up after Seumanutafa dropped him, turned the tide, and landed a huge left hand on his downed opponent for the one-punch finish. The time was 3:22.
After the bout, it appeared Mitrione had not yet cleared the cobwebs after he was nearly knocked out.
"I don't remember right now," Mitrione said when asked about Seumanutafa's right hand. "I hit the ground? I remember being like ‘oh s--- time to move buddy. I'm not supposed to be here right now.' I don't know what I'm thinking, I'm glad it happened, whatever happened."
Bellator once again insisted on switching between mixed martial arts and kickboxing in the same broadcast during its Dynamite card, which made for a drawn-out evening as fans showed little interest in the latter.
In a women's flyweight kickboxing bout, Gloria Peritone scored a split decision over Denise Kielholtz, getting two out of three 29-28 scores. In a men's featherweight fight, Kevin Ross's third-round knockdown of Justin Houghton helped him seal the deal in a unanimous decision win, as he got scores of 29-27, 29-27, and 30-26.