The champ is back.
On Friday night at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Michael Chandler backed up all his talk and avenged his loss to Brent Primus, taking a hard-fought unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to reclaim his Bellator lightweight title.
Primus came out throwing a lot of kicks but Chandler caught him with a big right hand midway through the first round. That shot led to a takedown, after which Chandler battered the champion from inside his guard for the rest of the round.
In the second, Primus dropped Chandler with a strong jab and then jumped on the challenger’s back. He nearly finished a rear-naked choke attempt but Chandler was able to fight it off and then turn into Primus and resume his top-position assault on the champion.
The third round again saw Primus landing hard shots on the feet but Chandler shot a low single leg and once again started grinding away on the champion. After the third, Chandler stopped mussing about on the feet and took Primus down straight away in the fourth and fifth rounds, controlling most of the rest of the fight with his ground-and-pound. When all was said and done, Chandler swept all three judges’ scorecards and resumed his spot atop Bellator’s 155 pound division.
In the co-main event of the evening, Javy Ayala got the biggest win of his career, stopping Frank Mir with strikes in the second round. The first round saw Mir come out strong, securing a takedown and working on an Americana. Ayala was able to defend though and eventually exploded back to his feet near the end of the first round. That seemed to be the turning point as afterwards, Mir looked exhausted and in the second round, Ayala cut the former UFC champion with an elbow and then battered him with strikes, knocking Mir’s mouthpiece out and then forcing him to tap while standing. The win stops a two-fight skid for Ayala but marks the fourth loss in a row for Mir. It may prompt calls for the 39-year-old submission artist to hang up the gloves.
Elsewhere on the card, A.J. McKee made quick work of Daniel Crawford, submitting the UK fighter in short order. Given McKee’s status as a -1500 favorite, the fight was what most people expected, with McKee securing an early takedown and then locking up the fight-ending submission in transition. Crawford fought it off as long as he could but ultimately tapped at 3:19 of the first round. The win moved McKee to 13-0 in his career and has “The Mercenary” on the cusp of title contention.
In a pivotal flyweight contest, Juliana Velasquez squeaked out a split decision over Alejandra Lara to move to 8-0 in her MMA career. Lara had success early but after an initial feeling out process, Velasquez was able to find her range on the feet and utilize her reach to keep Lara at the end of her punches. Lara stayed scrappy throughout but Velasquez had the more damaging blows and took two of the judge’s scorecards. The win likely cements Velasquez as the next contender for the winner of tomorrow night’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Valerie Letourneau title fight.
In the main card opener, Sam Sicilia and Derek Campos started the night off right, going to war for 15 minutes. Sicilia and Campos both came out throwing bungalows and it looked like the frenetic pace they were setting would lead to an early stoppage. Instead, both men weathered the storm and took everything the other had to offer. In the end, Sicilia took home a split decision to move to 2-1 inside the Bellator cage.