This past Saturday saw the Bellator 58 event take place at the Hard Rock Cafe in South Florida, and it should go down as one of Bellator’s best. The biggest surprise of the night was Michael Chandler‘s taking the Lightweight Title from long time champion and Bellator poster boy Eddie Alvarez. Chandler moves to an undefeated 9-0 by going to war with Alvarez, who was considered top three in the weight division by many observers. Nonetheless, Chandler took everything Alvarez had, and then he finished him. Let’s take a closer look at Bellator’s new Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler.
If you happened to throw some money down on Chandler before the fight, you made off with some cash, as he was a heavy underdog. It was hard to not heavily favor Alvarez.
Chandler’s first five fights were all dominant wins, with none going the distance and four ending in the first round. A little closer look reveals that the competition was relatively soft, with the combined record of all five men adding up to a whole lot more losses than wins (13 wins, 28 losses). Chandler did the job he had to do against the early competition.
Bellator put him in front of a more credible opponents and Chandler responded with wins over Marcin Held (11-2), Lloyd Woodard (11-1) and Patricky Freire (9-2). Twice in those three fights he went the distance, winning unanimous decisions. But he flashed a quality that would serve him well against Alvarez. Chandler showed he can absorb punishment, and that he can fight back from adversity.
Chandler comes out against Alvarez in round 1 and he hurts Alvarez, dropping him and maintaining pressure. Alvarez is on queer street at times, but he regains his composure and starts to go on offense. A late flurry for Chandler gives him round 1 firmly.
Rounds two and three saw a reversal of fortunes, as Alvarez opened up with the full arsenal. Alvarez was coming forward landing punches, and he was making Chandler miss. Some low leg kicks and several very effective knees saw the blood start to flow on the face of Chandler. In round 3, Chandler was hurt and Alvarez made a concerted effort to finish him with strikes, but Chandler weathered the storm.
Round 4 starts out a little slower, but Chandler looks to have cleaned up quite a bit. They box, and Alvarez continues to land the better punches and score points. Chandler breaks through and drops Alvarez with a big punch, and follows in for the pound. Alvarez is clearly hurt, and he gives up his back to avoid the flurry. The champion is caught in the rear naked choke and is forced to tap out.
Chandler looked good and tough when he was on offense, and he took a lot of damage and fought back from behind, which are all great qualities to see in a young fighter.
It will be interesting to see what direction Bellator takes with Chandler in terms of next opponent. This win puts Chandler on the map in the lightweight division.
For a negative, Chandler’s stature was similar to Alvarez, which is stocky and short. Chandler is likely heavier than Alvarez come fight time, but he is not a huge lightweight. This was one knock on Alvarez as well. We will have to see if either Chandler or Alvarez have issues with bigger, stronger lightweights.
If they want to develop Michael Chandler an immediate rematch is not recommended. Bring Chandler along and have Alvarez work for a rematch a year out. That would be grooming a talent that was discovered this past weekend!