CatchweightMichael Chandler (19-5) vs. Sidney Outlaw (14-3)
Chandler will look to rebound from losing the lightweight championship in a grudge match with Patricio Freire in May. The Bellator staple gets his first opportunity to fight outside of North America. The three-time lightweight champion is a well-rounded fighter with excellent footwork and likes to stalk his opponents using high-level hand speed and explosion. The Hard Knocks 365 rep is a hard-hitting boxer whose best strikes are his overhand right and left hook. Chandler does well to attack the body and press a high pace. When pushing the action, he can make the mistake of overthrowing his punches, leaving him out of position and vulnerable to counters. His aggressive style makes him fairly easy to hit, and he makes matters worse by throwing a strike and bringing his hand back to his waist instead of to his chin. The 33-year-old also hardly ever checks a kick. Even though Chandler is a devastating striker, wrestling remains the cornerstone of his game. The former University of Missouri wrestler has stellar drop-step entries and superb drive, which can easily get opponents to the canvas. He showed sublime top control when he reclaimed the lightweight championship from Brent Primus. Once he secures the position, Chandler will pummel his opponent with heavy ground strikes. He is also a submission threat, having secured seven such wins. The damage Chandler has accumulated across his career has become an increasing concern and figures to catch up to him at some point.
Outlaw draws his second Bellator assignment after agreeing to replace the injured Benson Henderson. Despite his relative youth, Outlaw, 27, has a decent amount of experience. The former Ring of Combat and Titan Fighting Championship titleholder recorded a victory in Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017 and will enter the cage on a nine-fight winning streak. Outlaw remains limited in the standup department, a slow puncher who avoids strikes by simply turning his head away from them. Outlaw holds the rank of black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Renzo Gracie, so he prefers to close the distance and drag the fight to the ground whenever possible. He does so by either timing a double-leg or by catching a kick. Outlaw shines in top position, as he mixes heavy ground-and-pound with guard passes and submission attempts.
While Outlaw has been a solid addition to the Bellator roster, Chandler represents a terrible stylistic matchup for him. “Iron Mike” figures to be the superior wrestler and does not throw many kicks for Outlaw to catch. Expect Chandler to pick apart “Da Gun” until he connects with something significant. Chandler by second-round technical knockout is the pick.
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