Michael Chandler lost his Bellator lightweight title tonight (June 24) at Madison Square Garden, New York, after badly injuring his ankle in round one of a defence against Brent Primus. The fight, officially ruled a TKO win for Primus, ended after just two minutes and twenty-two seconds and had Chandler ruing his luck afterwards and saying, “Cut this thing off!”
Primus should be allowed his moment to celebrate – he can now, of course, call himself a champion of sorts – but, make no mistake, Chandler lost his crown due to a freak accident rather than anything Primus managed to do with his hands or feet.
The fight’s flashpoint arrived inside the first minute as Primus threw a kick, Chandler stepped back to evade it and then seemed to come down heavily on his ankle, which gave way almost immediately. From that point on, Chandler was unable to put any weight on his front leg whatsoever. When he did, it folded.
This was all the encouragement Primus needed to attack Chandler’s left leg and try to end the champion’s reign in emphatic fashion. Merciless, he went after him and looked to exchange strikes. An unforgiving approach, no doubt, but also one that gave Chandler a fighting chance, despite the fact he was unable to move forward or put any sort of weight behind his punches. One Chandler right hand, for instance, got through and gave him and his team hope. It suggested the impossible might be possible; that, even though debilitated, Chandler could still somehow cling on to his belt.
Yet, moments later, the referee stopped the action to inspect the extent of the damage done to Chandler’s left leg. He didn’t like the way he was moving on it. He worried about the long-term damage.
Chandler, 16-4, keen to continue, was told it would be unwise to do so. Protected from himself, it was a decision greeted by a shake of the head from the former champion, who then had to suffer the indignity of seeing Primus, 8-0, celebrate the victory, however meaningful or hollow, with his old belt wrapped around his waist.
Less dramatic was the Bellator welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and challenger Lorenz Larkin. Fought over five rounds, the pair took it in turns to land punches and leg kicks, but, in the end, Lima’s better consistency and technique saw him retain his title via scores of 50-45 and 48-47 (twice).
Larkin, making his first appearance for Bellator following a successful stint in the UFC, started strongly enough. He took the centre of the cage, measured Lima up, and tried to use angles and the occasional switch of stance to keep the champion guessing. This created openings. It allowed him to land a right hand and unsettle Lima in round two.
But then Lima woke up. Reacting to the right hand, he took it upon himself to get his own back and did so in the form of a right uppercut and left hook combination which hurt and dropped Larkin. This led to some ground-and-pound, as Lima decided against letting Larkin get back to his feet, yet couldn’t bring about the finish.
As far as moments of drama, that was about as good as it would get. Indeed, for the remaining three rounds, the pattern would remain the same: Lima would hunt behind a high-guard, whipping in occasional leg-kicks and overhand rights; Larkin would circle, try and get creative and poke and prod from afar. There was a subtle shift in urgency, as Larkin, 18-5 (1 NC), came on strong down the stretch, but still it wasn’t near enough to stop Lima, 29-6, keeping hold of his welterweight title.
Finally, Ryan Bader defeated Phil Davis by split-decision in his Bellator debut to go 2-1 against his light-heavyweight rival and, more importantly, pick up the 205lb Bellator world title. It was, in truth, a snoozer of a title fight soundtracked by boos, one that did little to elevate either man’s stock, but that won’t matter to Bader, 23-5. The win, a repeat of his January 2015 success against Davis, is his third in a row and now puts him in a powerful position at the top of the light-heavyweight division.
Bellator NYC and Bellator 180 results in full:
BELLATOR NYC MAIN CARD
Chael Sonnen defeated Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Neiman Gracie defeated Dave Marfone via second-round submission
Matt Mitrione defeated Fedor Emelianenko via first round knockout (1:14)
Brent Primus defeated Michael Chandler via first-round TKO (injury) (2:22)
Zach Freeman defeated Aaron Pico via first-round submission (0:24)
Douglas Lima defeated Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47)
BELLATOR 180 PRELIMINARY CARD
Ryan Bader defeated Phil Davis via split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46)
James Gallagher defeated Chinzo Machida via first-round submission
Heather Hardy defeated Alice Yauger via third-round TKO (4:47)
BELLATOR 180 PRELIMINARY CARD
Ryan Couture defeated Haim Gozali via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Bradley Desir defeated Nate Grebb via first-round knockout (2:54)
Anthony Giacchina defeated Jerome Mickle via third-round submission (3:40)
Matt Rizzo defeated Sergio da Silva via third-round submission (3:48)
Hugh McKenna defeated John Salgado via first-round submission (4:06)