Michael Chandler lamped David Rickels at Bellator 97. | Photo: Will Fox/Sherdog.com
Michael Chandler needed just 44 seconds to retain his lightweight title in the Bellator 97 main event, knocking out David Rickels at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M.
After a brief feeling-out process, Chandler found his range early in the first frame, cracking “The Caveman” with a snapping counter right cross that put his opponent on his knees. Though Rickels did his best to recover from the flash knockdown, Chandler allowed him neither the time nor the space to regain his wits, instead blitzing his foe with two more hard right hands that knocked him flat on his back.
Chandler pounced on his fallen prey and landed a violent series of punches to his dazed opponent, rendering him unconscious as referee Jason Herzog halted the bout.
“I’m just blessed to be getting better every single day. I love my job, and I love this opportunity to step in the Bellator cage,” said Chandler. “You can’t have fear out here. I train my butt of every single day. Why not come out here and lay it on the line? Nothing bad can happen if you train your butt off and make the right decisions and surround yourself with the right people.”
Askren Dominates Koreshkov, Retains WW Belt
“Funky” immediately closed the distance against his explosive foe, taking him to the mat and smothering him from top position. Though the Season 7 tournament winner did his best to roll away from Askren’s constant pressure, the champion calmly stuck to him, punishing him with measured ground-and-pound for nearly 18 minutes before the referee mercifully stopped the bout.
In spite of Askren’s clear dominance, the fans in attendance grew tired of the wrestler’s top game over the course of the fight. Though he initially won over the arena by starting a “U-S-A” chant while riding the Russian’s back in round two, Askren later found himself booed by yet another live crowd.
“Andrey said he’s never been broken. Well, snap, crackle and pop,” said Askren. “[The fans] were representing [the USA] for a couple of rounds. I don’t know whether these [fans] were anti-American or communists or what, but they started booing.”
‘King Mo’ Batters Jacob Noe, Wins LHW Tourney
Muhammed Lawal brutalized Jacob Noe in the 205-pound tournament final, earning both a third-round technical knockout and a shot at the light heavyweight title.
“King Mo” jumped on his opponent from the get-go, taking him to the mat early in round one and working with ground-and-pound.
Lawal repeated the process in the second and third rounds, gradually doling out punishment to his fellow Tennessean.
The end would come midway through the final frame, when the former Strikeforce champion took a bloody Noe to his back for the final time, landing several clean punches and forcing referee Jason Herzog to wave off the bout.
Following his victory, Lawal called out both light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh and No. 1 contender Emanuel Newton, who knocked Lawal out of the Season 8 tournament with a spectacular spinning back fist.
“Let me give my props to Jacob. He came out here to represent Memphis, and he fought hard for his city,” said Lawal. “I don’t know what’s up with [Bellator champion] Attila Vegh, but if he wants to wait, I’ll fight...what’s that boy’s name again? Emanuel -- whatever his name is -- who threw that spinning stuff and got lucky it landed on me. I’ll fight him, and then I’ll fight Attila. Let’s make something happen.”
Minakov Stops Martinez, Earns Heavyweight Title Shot
Minakov scored with a trip in the first frame, though the American battled his way back to his feet to land a hard left hook. Round two then saw the Russian accidentally knee his bloodied opponent in the groin, an occurrence that prompted referee Raul Porrata to deduct a point from Minakov without issuing a warning.
The sambo stylist recovered from the setback in round three, however, tripping his man to the floor and passing into mount, where he proceeded to pound away with punches and elbows until the referee halted the bout with 58 seconds remaining. Minakov will now face Bellator heavyweight king Alexander Volkov at a later date.
“It was a very tough fight. Ryan Martinez is a very tough opponent,” said Minakov. “My future fight against my fellow Russian Alexander Volkov will also be a very tough fight, but I will be ready. I promise promise it will be a spectacular one.”
Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Punches Out Jared Downing
Former featherweight title challenger Patricio Freire returned to his winning ways to open the Spike TV telecast, picking up a second-round technical knockout over a game Jared Downing.
“Pitbull” asserted his dominance early in the bout, dropping Downing with a hard right hand before staggering his opponent late in the first round with more combinations to the head.
Circumstances would not improve for the Iowan in the second stanza, as Freire quickly floored Downing with another vicious right hand.
Though “Demon Eyes” popped back to his feet once again, the effort would prove futile, as Freire put him down one more time with another snapping cross, forcing referee Raul Porrata to halt the contest 54 seconds into round two.
Bubba Jenkins Victorious on Undercard
Prior to the evening’s televised card, the preliminary draw was highlighted by the Bellator debut of former NCAA Division I champion Bubba Jenkins, who posted a second-round technical knockout of Mike Barreras after a wild first round. Additionally, Rafael Silva and Anthony Leone punched their tickets to the Summer Series bantamweight tournament final, submitting Rodrigo Lima and Frank Baca with third-round rear-naked chokes. Meanwhile, lightweight prospect Will Brooks opened the show with a third-round technical knockout of Cris Leyva.