Reigning Bellator MMA lightweight champion Michael Chandler was the second titleholder in the promotion to crush Benson Henderson’s dreams on Saturday night. Chandler was the busier fighter and landed the better overall strikes to topple the challenger via split decision over five hard-fought rounds in the main event of Bellator 165 in San Jose.
Chandler electrified the capacity crowd in the first with a highlight-reel suplex, but “Smooth” Benson was able to scramble out from underneath the champ and battle back into a better position. The fight was a high-paced chess match and though Henderson definitely had his moments, Chandler just seemed to be a step ahead of the former World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship champion throughout.
Henderson poured on the aggression in the fifth in an effort to possibly score a dramatic stoppage, but “Iron” Michael waded through the attacks and takedowns. In the end, Chandler was the better man and walked out of the Bellator cage with the belt still around his waist, the recipient of a split decision victory, which he won via tallies of 48-46, 46-48 and 48-47.
In the co-feature, Michael Page had a surprisingly underwhelming performance against Fernando Gonzalez as the popular knockout artist struggled with his foe throughout. Page never found a steady rhythm in the contest with his attacks and opted instead to shimmy and showboat whenever he could. Because of that, the man that many expected to be mere cannon fodder for the Britt kept things interesting. In the end, two of the three judges favored Page with scores of 29-28 while the third had it 30-27 in favor of Gonzalez.
Linton Vassell turned in a workmanlike performance against Francis Carmont as he dominated his foe from pillar to post. Vassell wasn’t able to finish his opponent off but he coasted to an easy decision, which he won via tallies of 30-26 (twice) and 30-25.
Also on the Spike-televised main card, Keri Melendez knocked out Sheila Padilla with a perfect counter right to the face and follow-up hammerfists in just 47 seconds and Adam Piccolotti defeated Brandon Girtz via unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 on all three cards.