This weekend was supposed to have been the Bellator PPV event headlined by Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson. With Ortiz injured, the whole event has been moved to free TV and now features a main event of Michael Chandler versus Eddie Alvarez. The five round fight is for the Bellator Lightweight title, which Chandler took from Alvarez in their first meeting. Right now, Chandler sits at a (-225) favorite, with the comeback on Alvarez returning (+185).
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Alvarez has long been a commodity in MMA, as is evidenced by him fielding a legit UFC offer while he was a free agent, and at 24-3 he is a winner who almost always delivers with a sterling ring performance.
But Chandler deserves credit, and he deserves to be favored in the fight. Chandler did not win a decision and there was no controversy – Chandler took Alvarez out the first time with a rear naked choke in the 4th round. Since then, he has spent less time in 3 defenses of his title than he spent in the 18 plus minutes it took to relieve Alvarez of the belt. He has been taking finishing fights.
Chandler also has a new Bellator contract in hand, and one would assume since Alvarez offer was so public, that Chandler’s is at least in the neighborhood. Since he has been champ and started living the life of a fighter with some resources, Chandler has done nothing but improve. His KO power is impressive, and his overall fitness has gone through the roof.
Chandler is at risk with Alvarez in a way he was not with previous challengers Rick Hawn and Dave Rickels. Though both won a tournament to get their shot, neither has the resume of Alvarez, who is approaching his 10th year as a pro with a lot of international and big fight experience. Alvarez is beyond the jitters, and when he is confident, he is an excellent, aggressive fighter that is a crowd pleaser. Alvarez is a guy who thrives in chaotic fights, and it would be a mistake to slow the pace down and try to win this one on points. This one is not going the distance.