It was definitely a lot to ask of Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez to live up to the standard that their first fight in Bellator had set, but both men incredibly delivered another epic clash in Long Beach, California at Bellator 106.
Alvarez is back on top of the organization’s 155 pound-division as he reclaimed his Bellator lightweight championship in an incredibly brutal five-round contest. In the end, Alvarez handed Chandler his first career loss via split decision. He received a 48-47 nod on two of the judges’ scorecards, while Chandler earned the 48-47 verdict on the other.
For Alvarez, it had to be the ultimate sense of retribution. Not only did he defeat the man who originally took his title by a fourth-round submission in their first encounter at Bellator 58, but he made a triumphant return to a promotion that he had been involved in a bitter contract dispute with. Alvarez was on the sidelines for over a year because of the nasty squabble.
While their 2011 encounter was rightly promoted as the best fight in Bellator history, this was another classic that left both competitors bloodied, bruised and battered.
Chandler seemed to get the better of the opening round as he utilized his wrestling background to secure takedowns and had Alvarez desperately fighting off a very tight rear naked choke attempt. Chandler was doing well in the second, but Alvarez turned the tide with some crisp punches that seemed to rock the champ in the latter stages.
Alvarez used stellar lateral movement in the third round, darting in and out and utilizing his jab. Chandler was cut under the left eye, which was swollen and closing. The defending champion had a terrific round 4, Chandler hurt the challenger with a huge jumping knee, and seemed very close to a possible finish as he brutalized and bloodied Alvarez with some severe ground and pound.
It all seemed on the line heading into the final round, and both competitors truly gave everything they could possibly give. The final five minutes featured fierce exchanges, wild scrambles and and takedowns. Alvarez actually came close to finishing the fight in the final 90 seconds as Chandler was forced to fight off a number of rear naked choke attempts.
It was truly a fight that could have gone either way. Chandler, whose eye was pretty much swollen shut at the end, was disappointed with the loss but says he’ll go back to the drawing board to see what’s next. Alvarez was obviously thrilled to get his revenge and have the satisfaction of Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney place the championship belt around his waist.
If Bellator is truly serious about going forward with a PPV event in the future after an injury scuttled Tito Ortiz vs. Rampage Jackson, they need to look no further than Alvarez vs. Chandler 3 to find their headliner. Not only have they produced the best fight in Bellator history, they now have produced the best two.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports