Michael Chandler was an unstoppable force on Saturday at Caesars in Atlantic City, N.J.
With less than two years experience as a professional mixed martial artist, Chandler (8-0), a former NCAA Div. 1 wrestler at the University of Missouri, captured the Bellator Season 4 lightweight tournament crown.
Not even a nearly-swollen-shut left eye and a deducted point for repeated low blows could stop Chandler, as he had his way with heavy favorite Patricky "Pitbull" Freire (9-2) at Bellator 44, earning 29-27 scorecards from all three official judges en route to a unanimous decision.
“Patricky, he’s the man. You guys have seen his highlight reel, knocking dudes out,” said Chandler. “I just thank God [for] being here, and that we had a war.”
Chandler went toe-to-toe with the Brazilian for the majority of the first nine minutes until taking down the Anderson Silva training partner as round two waned. Chandler was able to do little with the position, but it gave his left eye a welcome rest from Freire’s right hand. The eventual winner had a point taken by referee Keith Peterson for a third low blow in the final stanza, but he was not to be denied, as he scored another takedown and landed heavy punches from the guard.
Lombard Survives Slow Start to Flatten Vitale
One of MMA’s most potent finishers had trouble getting going Saturday, but Hector Lombard didn’t disappoint in the end against Falaniko Vitale.
Vitale used his reach and height advantage early to play keep away from the powerful Cuban judoka in rounds one and two, moving away from the American Top Team fighter’s fast hands. The crafty UFC and Strikeforce veteran found success with his straight right, but rarely felt comfortable enough in the pocket to pull the trigger.
Round three was a different story altogether however, as Lombard caught his opponent off guard with a right hook that relieved the Honolulu native of his senses. Vitale took a step and then crumbled to the canvas, forcing referee Dan Miragliotta to step in at the 0:54 mark.
“I don’t like to talk, I like to do,” said Lombard, now 29-2-1 (1 NC) with the win. “I want to ask [Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney] to bring these guys that have been talking a lot to bring it up here. We’ll do the business here.”
Widely regarded as one of the sport’s premier fighters not signed under the Zuffa banner, Lombard has now won 18 straight and is undefeated in his last 23 contests. His lone blemish in the near-five-year-span is a draw to “The Ultimate Fighter 11” cast member Kyle Noke in July 2007. He last tasted defeat against current Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi at Pride Bushido 13 in November 2006.
Shlemenko Outpoints Cooper
Bellator Season 2 middleweight tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko (39-7) punched his ticket for the promotion’s upcoming 185-pound bracket with an impressive display of striking against Shooto and International Fight League veteran Brett Cooper (13-7).
Shlemenko landed at will with spinning-back kicks and fists in the opening period, working the body over and swelling both eyes of his foe. Cooper hung tough and landed a right-hand counter that caused a mouse to form on the left cheek of the European. Round two was much tighter, as Cooper was able to score two brief takedowns and largely avoid the dynamic attacks of the 26-year-old southpaw. With each fighter showing signs of fatigue, the final frame was an
entertaining slugfest that saw leather fly until the final bell.
In the end, the official judges saw the contest 30-27, 30-28 and 29-28 for the Russian.
More Bellator 44 »
• Bellator 44 Play-by-Play
• Bellator 44 Prelims: Karavackas Subs Oropeza