Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif., played host to Bellator last night (Nov. 2, 2013), which promoted Bellator 106 on Spike TV. The card was originally scheduled to air on pay-per-view (PPV), but when Tito Ortiz was forced from the card because of injury, the decision was made to air it on free television.
The card featured three title fights, with the majority of the focus being placed on the rematch between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler for the Bellator Lightweight title. Chandler defeated Alvarez at Bellator 58 to capture the gold in one of the best fights of the year (watch full fight video highlights here).
Alvarez learned from the mistakes he made in the first meeting and was able to make adjustments to beat Chandler up on the feet. He worked a jab and targeted Chandler's left eye, which was shut by the sound of the final horn. When the scores were read, Alvarez became a two-time Bellator champion.
So with the fights in the books, let's talk about last night.
Trilogy? More like thrillogy, amirite?
The bout between Chandler and Alvarez without any doubt, saved the card. They entered the bout already having an absolute classic on the books with their Bellator 58 meeting. I assumed that it would be near impossible for them to recreate that magic.
And for good reason. Most rematches end up being a disappointment because the previous bout set such an impossible standard to live up to (see Griffin/Bonnar 2).
With Chandler and Alvarez, that was not the case. They have a certain chemistry that allows them to bring the absolute best out of one another. Chandler showed an insane amount of heart and Alvarez showed that he is still a top 10 lightweight.
Is it fair to say that "King" Muhammed Lawal is the biggest bust in Bellator history? The promotion has held two separate 205-pound tournaments to try and get a belt around his waist. His popularity is unquestionable and he was being groomed to eventually become the face of the organization.
But, then Lawal lost the Season 8 Light Heavyweight tournament by spinning backfist when he faced Emanuel Newton at Bellator 90. The promotion then created a "Summer Series" four-man tournament, which Lawal won. When Bellator light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh got injured, Bellator jumped at potentially crowning Lawal as champ.
Last night, Lawal again failed in his attempt to capture Bellator gold. It may be time to take another look at Lawal's record and reevaluate his standing in the light heavyweight division. He entered the sport with a ton of potential because of his wrestling credentials but has failed to live up to expectations.
"You come at the king, you best not miss."
Newton didn't miss. He put a bullet straight into the heart of the "King" Mo myth.
Pat Curran just never got started ...
Curran has a reputation for being a "slow starter," but it has had the benefit of keeping Curran fresh in later rounds. His bout with Daniel Straus was a disappointment because Curran never got off the blocks. He was a step behind the entire way and didn't look like the guy who gave Joe Warren brain damage.
There's no doubt in my mind that Curran can get back to the title, but I just don't see the guy who fought last night as a champion of the division.
Bad day for Bellator?
There's two ways to approach a reaction piece for Bellator 106. The pessimistic view is that the card failed to live up to expectations and lost out on potential PPV revenue. The optimist sees a main event that people should be talking about and thinks everything is great.
The sad reality is that it's a mix of both.
A sobering fact is that of the three top bouts, the underdog was victorious. The promotion has spent an incredible amount of money promoting Chandler, Curran and Lawal. Having all three come up short, hurts most when trying to build a PPV product.
- Pacing absolutely killed this card. Without discussing anything else, having a 30 minute commercial break is completely inexcusable. This card went over its allotted time limit, which caused a lot of people's DVR system's to cut out before the fifth round of the main event. That's bush league.
- It's 2013 and Joe Riggs just won a tournament in MMA. I can't even handle that fact.
- It's already a notorious .gif, but there needs to be some sort of a explanation for why Bjorn Rebney was shaking his head as Jimmy Smith interviewed Eddie Alvarez.
- So doesn't Chandler have to win an upcoming Lightweight tournament to earn another shot at the 155-pound title? I thought title shots were earned and not given.
- So as the winner of "Fight Master," Joe Riggs took home a cool $100,000. His opponent Mike Bronzoulis was not as fortunate. For coming up short, he walked away with a paltry $5,000. With that kind of difference in earned salary, what is the motivation to do anything else but grind out a win? Really poor planning.
- It can only get better from here for Frank Shamrock who wasn't particularly well-spoken in his interviews. And how dare he take away from Lawal's walk out. For shame.