Michael Chandler is now a three-time Bellator MMA world champion.
Chandler exacted revenge against rival Brent Primus in the Bellator 212 main event on Friday at the Neil S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, dominating him for five grueling rounds. Chandler (19-4) used timely striking and routine takedowns that led to a grinding ground-and-pound attack to pulverize Primus, snatching back his lightweight title in the process.
Chandler nearly sent Primus packing early when he floored his foe with a sizzling left hook to the head, but the Oregonian managed to survive the incoming attack. Primus (8-1) rallied in the second, where he rocked Chandler with punches and nearly sank a rear-naked choke. That was his last burst of meaningful offense.
Chandler resorted to his University of Missouri wrestling roots by suffocating Primus for the final three rounds of the contest, all while dishing out scattered punches and elbows from on top. However, “Iron Mike” was not able to finish him off. In the end, all three cageside judges saw it 50-45 for Chandler, allowing him to win back the 155-pound title he lost to Primus at Bellator 180 in June 2017.
Javy Ayala has been toiling in the cloudy haze of the heavyweight division for years, but things might be changing for the better. “Eye Candy” survived a takedown and submission threats from former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in the co-main event and wound up stopping him the second round. Ayala (11-7) wore down Mir with movement and timely counter strikes, and when Mir’s gas tank was running on fumes, the Californian turned up the heat. With Mir already bleeding profusely from a nasty cut over left eye courtesy of an elbow, he forced the Las Vegan into the cage and began unloading short, annoying punches. Mir (18-13) had nowhere to go, and with the blood blinding him and pouring from his mouth, he elected to tap out. The end came officially at 4:30 of the second, giving Ayala the biggest win of his MMA career.
Arguably Bellator’s brightest young contender, A.J. McKee showed his grappling prowess again by dispatching Daniel Crawford in the opening round. After landing a few solid kicks and punches, “The Mercenary” eventually slammed Crawford (10-3) to the ground. Crawford tried scrambling back to his feet, but the Californian wrapped him in a textbook anaconda choke. The Brit was unable to wriggle free and had to tap out, ending the featherweight duel at the 3:19 mark. The win allowed McKee to improve to 13-0 -- the greatest start to a Bellator career in history.
Flyweight prospect Juliana Velasquez was dominant against Colombian Alejandra Lara (7-3) and nabbed the win to stay unbeaten in the pro ranks. Velasquez used timely counterpunching, slow and plodding pressure and key takedowns to thwart Lara’s flashy kicks. While neither fighter was ever in danger of being stopped, the Brazilian did just enough in every round to win. Two judges favored Velasquez (8-0) with scores of 29-28 and 30-27, while a third judge struck a puzzling score of 29-28 for “Azul.”
Sam Sicilia came out like a man possessed to begin his fight with Derek Campos and nearly secured an early stoppage. A barrage of Sicilia punches rocked “The Stallion” multiple times in the first round and again in the second, but the Spokane, Washington, fighter could not sustain his attacks. Over time, Campos (19-8) cleared his head and began wearing down his foe with timely countering and takedowns. Sicilia (17-9) was exhausted in the latter stages of the featherweight tussle, but he had already done enough damage to land the victory. Two judges favored Sicilia with scores of 29-28, while the third official had the same tally for Campos, giving the former the split decision win.