Bellator 197 “Chandler vs. Girtz” took place last night (Fri., Apr. 13, 2018) at Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. The main event featured two Lightweights looking to tear the house down as both seek a future title shot against current champion Brent Primus.
Last year’s injury TKO loss loss to Primus left a sour taste in the mouth of Michael Chandler (17-4) to the point that he claimed he didn’t want the title back, but on this night at least he wouldn’t have to worry about that as he’d have to go through the resurgent Brandon Girtz (15-7) first.
Girtz landed an accidental left kick to the groin that forced referee Jason Herzog to call for time. After the restart Chandler landed an accidental finger to the eye that led to another time out and a doctor coming in to check Girtz’ vision. Once both of these moments were over the fight really got underway.
At one point Girtz seemed to have control when he threw a flurry, stuffed a takedown and landed a hard uppercut on the exit. Chandler edged Girtz backward toward the fence, threw a right hand and immediately went for the double leg, sailing Girtz high through the air before slamming him down. He went for the arm triangle choke and Girtz passed out without tapping out at the 4:00 mark of the very first round.
“Big” John McCarthy talked to Chandler after his 15th Bellator MMA win.
“It’s an honor to step in this cage man. This is something that I will never ever take for granted and I thank everybody for coming out. I felt him crumble a little bit there on the slam. Brandon Girtz is the kind of guy we need in this sport. The future is bright and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I just now hit my prime so I might be fighting into my 40’s. We’ll have to find out.”
Speaking of flawless fighters, A.J. McKee ran up a perfect 10-0 record heading into Bellator 197, but to remain unbeaten he’d have to take on durable Ultimate Fighter veteran Justin Lawrence (11-4) and take him apart. McKee indulged the date on the calendar with a Friday the 13th inspired entrance.
Lawrence pushed the pace in the first round and came forward aggressively. McKee was content to be on his back foot given he had a seven inch reach advantage, and he used it to repeatedly pummel his opponent with hooks and jabs, even throwing in some flashy body kicks and switch kicks to mix things up.
Midway through the second round Lawrence rolled his left ankle and started backpedaling. McKee immediately gave chase and started targeting it with kicks. It was another 10-9 round for “Mercenary” and now he had a target with a bullseye on it for the final five.
Lawrence seemed to recover from his leg injury for the final five minutes to the point he could continue to battle, and he even managed to stuff McKee’s takedown attempts, but he had no answer for the kicks that punished him each time they’d break. A.J. McKee made it a clean sweep with a 30-27 X3 unanimous decision and spoke to John McCarthy about a “p**sy” from Ireland.
“I’m fantastic man. I feel great. Ready for war! Thanks to Justin Lawrence. Now you see what it is when I fight somebody at my level. Hey, James Gallagher, you keep pulling out of fights. Let me and my father fight the same night and I’ll whoop yo’ ass homey. You’re nothing like Conor McGregor and I’m gonna expose you. Let’s do this shit homey!”
The continually improving “Baby Slice” Kevin Ferguson Jr. would have another chance to show his mettle and potentially pick up a third win against the unbeaten (1-0) Devon Brock at 160 lbs.
“Baby Slice” wasn’t getting paid by the hour last night — he was getting paid by the second. After crushing Brock with a right hand behind his ear, he pounded away on the ground until Brock gave up his back, sinking in the rear-naked choke for a tapout at 0:34 of the first round.
After his quick and thrilling finish, Ferguson had plenty of energy left to chat with John McCarthy.
“Me and my coach Antonio McKee and Team Body Shop, Team Kimbo, we were working on the overhand right hook. I was trying to set it up but I waited until he got close and I let it loose. It’s position before submission first but the ground and pound wasn’t working because the guy had a hard head. I could see his equilibrium was off though so I took advantage. There’s a couple of guys on the list in Miami I’d like to fight so let’s see if we can make that happen.”
Rounding out the main card was a tough Welterweight showdown between Logan Storley (7-0) and local favorite Joaquin Buckley (8-1) looking to notch his third-straight win in Bellator.
It should come as no surprise that a wrestler trained by Brock Lesnar was ready and willing to take Buckley down quickly in Round 1. Storley kept yanking Buckley down every time he got back up, preferring to stay in half guard to grind away, ending the first frame with a series of hard shots and elbows. The second verse was the same as the first save for a full mount for ground-and-pound with 25 seconds left.
Buckley felt the sting of the takedown even more quickly in the third frame with Storley picking the leg to a chorus of unfriendly boos at the Family Arena. Their displeasure did nothing to change the outcome as Storley continued to ride Buckley, take the back whenever he tried to get up, and take side control whenever he put him back down.
The judges made it 30-27 and 30-26 X2 all for “Storm” Storley, who spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the win as more boos rained down.
“I feel great! I wish I could have got the finish and made it more exciting but at the end of the day I got the win. I’m undefeated 8-0 so I don’t know what else you want. The biggest thing I felt tonight stepping in this cage was it felt like home. I went in there and did my job. I listened to my corner and got the W. Thank you St. Louis!”
Hall of Fame NFL running back Marcus Allen was there to take in all of the action!
For complete Bellator 197 results and coverage click here.