Bellator returns in roughly a month, as Bellator 96 will air on SPIKETV on June 19th. The event features a title defense for Lightweight champion Michael Chandler, as he faces tournament winner Dave Jansen in the main event. The card also will have an abbreviated Lightheavyweight tournament of 4 men, including veterans Renato Sobral and ‘King’ Mo Lawal. Let’s take a look at the match ups.
Consider the abbreviated tournament of Lightheavyweights a “do over” or “reset” of the tournament scheduled for season 7. That tournament was supposed to end with a coronation of sorts, as high impact and high dollar signee ‘King’ Mo was expected to meet tough veteran Renato ‘Babalu’ in the finals before stepping into a title shot. It was not to be however, as both ‘King’ Mo and ‘Babalu’ were eliminated in the opening round.
Jacob Noe will take on Babalu, at it will be a good test of how faded Sobral is this late in his career. Noe took Petruzelli out of the tournament in season 7 before losing to Mikhail Zayats, but Sobral should be able to pull out a victory if he can extend the match to win a decision.
‘King’ Mo is all about redemption now, and he gets the re-tread Seth Petruzelli in the opening round, as if to try and assure that Mo advances this time around. Petruzelli is also a veteran, but he has never broken through to the big time, and he did not look good in his last outing. The organization desperately wants a return on their investment with ‘King’ Mo, so they are rolling the dice again trying to get him the Sobral win to earn a title match. If we get anything resembling a fight out of Petruzelli after the opening minute, be grateful.
The Lightweight title is a legit matchup of two very underrated guys. Jansen weathered the storm of the season 7 tournament and stepped up with every matchup. He has good skills, a lot of heart and experience and he is entering his prime. In Chandler however, he faces a young gun who is undefeated. Chandler is still hungry, however he has been more and more impressive with each outing and with the title in his hands now for a while, he has become 100 percent dedicated to his title defense. Chandler will be favored, and he will be very difficult to beat.