Top MMA News Breaks Down Bellator 85: Chandler vs. Hawn
Finally, Bellator will be making their debut on Spike TV and they will be doing so with a bang. They will be debuting on Thursday, January 17 for their 85th event and it will be headlined by the face of their organization, Michael Chandler. He will be defending his Lightweight title for the first time against tournament winner, Rick Hawn. Pat Curran will also be defending his Bellator Championship for the first time as he will be going up against Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire. Also on the card will be three of the four Light Heavyweight Quarterfinal Tournament bouts, including the Bellator debut of MMA veteran Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral. You can catch the action live on Spike.
Let’s move on to the breakdown…
Bellator Lightweight Championship Bout
(c) Michael Chandler (10-0) vs. Rick Hawn (14-1)
As the new face of the organization, Michael Chandler has been getting a lot of hype as of late. His outstanding fight against Eddie Alvarez gave the organization the push it needed to show that the tournament format is truly something special. He will be making his first title defense against Rick Hawn, an Olympic judoka with excellent knockout power that could put away most guys. Hawn generally prefers to pace himself and waits for openings to land a nasty counter right as he did against both Ricardo Tirloni and Lloyd Woodard en route to winning the Bellator Season 6 Tournament. Chandler is not known to be a patient fighter. He will immediately get into the face of his opponent and try to finish the fight as soon as possible. He nearly knocked out Alvarez within seconds of their fight. However, this could spell disaster for the champion if he is not careful against a fighter like Hawn. They are both legitimate grapplers and either guy can get the fight to the ground at will. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to do so against one another considering their credentials and proven MMA grappling ability. Hawn, being the former Welterweight, will be the bigger man in the Octagon but at 36, despite showing few weaknesses, one has to wonder what will happen against a young stud like Chandler. It will be an extremely close battle between the two but as long as Chandler avoids taking the shots he did against Alvarez, he should be able to retain his title in a hard fought battle.
Prediction: Chandler via Unanimous Decision
Bellator Featherweight Championship Bout
(c) Pat Curran (17-4) vs. Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire (17-1)
The anticipated return of the other Pitbull brother comes to an end when Patricio Freire is finally healthy enough to get his Featherweight title shot against newly crowned champion, Pat Curran. Both guys are deadly on the feet and that could very well be an understatement. With a combined 23 finishes with a solid mix of submissions and knockouts, both Freire and Curran will look to finish the fight as soon as they find an opening. Curran is coming off of an unbelievable KO of former title holder, Joe Warren. Throw in his crazy comeback head kick KO of Marlon Sandro and Curran has a nice streak going for him. Freire has not fought since May of 2011 due to a broken hand. It is tough to say how much ring rust will bother him upon entrance into the cage but there is one thing you know you are getting when Patricio or his brother Patricky are fighting: you will be getting the opportunity to watch a war. Curran has shown a tendency to get beat up in his fights. If he is taken down, he can be dominated from top position. He also tends to get hit early and often. Freire is not the kind of guy you want to be hit by but Curran has always been resilient enough to recover from losing. He certainly showed that against Sandro. It is very tough to pick against a guy as dangerous as Freire but his recent lack of activity may be the difference in this fight. Curran should be able to finish the Brazilian after a back and forth war.
Prediction: Curran via TKO Round 3
Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal
Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral (37-9) vs. Mikhail Zayats (19-6)
If you love old school fighters, few are more old school than the man known as Babalu. Renato Sobral has not been as active as fans are used to, only fighting once since getting knocked out by Dan Henderon late 2010. His past opponents consist of a who’s who of MMA and he has racked up some very impressive wins through his career. Mikhail Zayats may not be the name fighter that Babalu is used to fighting, but Bellator has consistently proven that they know how to scout only the best talent from Russia. Zayats has been around for a while but has not exactly gone up against the best fighters in the world. Zayats will likely want to keep the fight standing, considering how talented Babalu is on the ground. Babalu is very active from the top and the bottom and has always been excellent at utilizing his jiu-jitsu in MMA. He is also a good striker with a solid mix of punches and kicks. If Zayats is going to want to win this fight, though, he will need to likely knock out the Brazilian veteran. Babalu is too battle tested to not be well prepared for a guy with the skill set of Zayats. He should be able to finish this fight.
Prediction: Babalu via Rear Naked Choke Round 3