IRVINE, Calif. — Mike Chander and Pat Curran successfully defended their Bellator championship belts at the company’s debut on Spike TV in Irvine, Calif., at UC Irvine’s Bren Center on Thursday night.
Chandler finished Rick Hawn in the second round by locking on a rear-naked choke at 3:07 of the frame, while Curran went the distance with Patricio “Pit Bull” Freire for a split decision win.
“It was a big night for us,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said during the post-fight press conference. “Man, did [the fighters] deliver … All praise to you guys.”
Chandler looked dominant in his performance, establishing a takedown early in the fight and working actively in the guard to score points with strikes. The champ controlled Hawn for a majority of the opening frame and appeared to win the round.
The Alliance MMA lightweight continued his push in the second round, getting a slam of Hawn in the first 60 seconds on the way to sinking in the submission to finish the contest.
“It hasn’t really all sank in yet,” Chandler told GRACIEMAG.com of his win on Bellator’s first Spike TV broadcast. “I just want to keep getting better, [train] and see how good I can be.”
With the win, Chandler maintains his undefeated record at 11-0, while Hawn drops to 14-2.
Curran, the featherweight title holder, and Pit Bull Freire opened the main card with the 145-pound title fight. Both fighters kept a conservative approach, measuring each other before deciding to engage with more offense in the latter stages of the contest.
The champion wasn’t really surprised, he said, that his opponent didn’t come out guns blazing. It’s a five-round fight and the fighters needed to pace themselves, he added.
“If he was going to come at me really hard, I was ready for it,” Curran said at the press conference. “I knew he had to pace himself because he has gotten tired in the past. I knew that was in the back of his head.”
The fighters went back and forth before the fight went to the final round, but it was Curran that landed enough strikes to bloody up Freire’s nose. The contest was scored 47-48, 48-27 and 48-47 in favor of the Curran.
With the win, Curran improves his overall record to 18-4, while Freire drops his tally to 17-2.
In addition to the title fights, Mikhail Zayats and Jacob Noe each scored first-round technical knockouts in their main card performances. Zayats topped MMA veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral at 4:49 of the opening round, and Noe beat Seth Petruzelli at 2:51 of their first frame.
The Bellator 85 prelim results are as follows:
- Aaron Miller def. Joe Camacho via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Jason Lambert def. Hector Ramirez via sub (inverted armbar) at 3:59, R1
- JJ Ambrose def. Brian Warren by sub (guillotine) at 0:50, R2
- Emanuel Newton def. Atanas Djambazov via sub (rear-naked choke) at 2:21, R2
- Savant Young def. Mike Guymon by KO (punch) 0:48, R2
- Joe Williams def. Jamie Yager via TKO (strikes on the ground) 4:02, R1
- Cleber Luciano def. Mario Navarro by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
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