I didn’t write a preview for Bellator 58, but if I had, I would’ve made firm predictions pertaining to champ Eddie Alvarez’s impending and complete dominance over lightweight tournament winner Michael Chandler. Maybe I would’ve even made wacky analogies, painting pictures of cats toying with mice or men fighting boys. Holy smokes would I have been wrong! For the first time in a long time, someone out-Alvarez-ed Alvarez, landing hard and fearlessly while taking everything the champ had for him (the last and only person to do that was Nick Thompson in a fight at welterweight). And when the dust settled on Bellator 58’s main event, one of the top 155-pounders in the world was no longer in possession of a belt. But first!
Nova Uniao standout Marlon Sandro’s bid to snag featherweight tournament glory may have met with failure when Pat Curran’s foot touched his face, but in no way did that loss diminish his dangerousness – as Brazilian Top Team representative Rafael Dias found out. Despite Sandro’s Muay Thai prowess, Dias had no qualms about trading with him, and with a left hand even sent Sandro stumbling at around the three-minute mark of the first round. But Sandro’s autopilot reaction was to take his opponent down, and after a protracted scramble that had them going back up to their feet and then down again, the Sengoku champ snagged Dias’ arm and cinched on a head-arm choke. Dias tapped out at 3:56 of the frame.
When they met back in 2006, Lisa Ward-Ellis submitted Jessica Aguilar with a rear naked choke. Victory eluded her in the rematch, though. In the opening round the shorter, more compact Aguilar met Ward-Ellis’ rangy single kicks and punches with quick counterpunching, racking up points even when Ward-Ellis bloodied her nose. When it went to the ground in the second round things were still pretty much going Aguilar’s way, as she threatened with a D’Arce and managed to land some punishing ground and pound. In the final frame, Ward-Ellis succeeded in penetrating her opponent’s defenses with a flurry, but again Aguilar took her down and brutalized her. All three judges had Aguilar taking all three rounds, and she came away with the unanimous decision.
A combination coiled spring and stick of dynamite. That’s the best way to describe Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard, who took on UFC and Strikeforce veteran Trevor Prangley in a non-title affair. Throughout the first round and into the second, Lombard inched forward ready to detonate, once even catching the South African wrestler against the fence and dazing him with a rapid-fire flurry. Prangley dove for a takedown and saved himself that time, but there was no saving himself from the Cuban’s left hand in the second. Eating one square in the face, Prangley tumbled, and when he went down fishing for a single-leg, Lombard wailed away until Prangley was a fetal mess. The ref jumped in at 1:06, mercifully saving Prangley from death.
Alvarez has long been known for his recovery ability, raw power and dangerous boxing/wrestling hybrid style – which makes what Chandler displayed in their championship contest all the more amazing. Coming out uber-aggressive in the first, Chandler stormed over to Alvarez’s side of the cage and began laying into him, a tact that seemed to catch the champ off guard and force Alvarez to respect the power the challenger was putting forth himself. Twice in Round 1 Chandler rocked Alvarez, with the last one very nearly putting him down. Alvarez survived, however, and recovered enough to ding Chandler up in the second. Round 3 saw an energized champ pursue – and almost put away – a battered and bloody Chandler, and after absorbing a plethora of high-kicks and rights and lefts, it was nothing short of a miracle that the challenger was still standing. But stand he continued to do, and with Alvarez seemingly sapped of strength in the fourth, Chandler waded in, blasted him with a punch, and swarmed on him when Alvarez fell. From there it was back-control to rear naked choke, and Alvarez tapped at 3:06 of the round.
Easily one of the best Bellator fights ever, Alvarez vs. Chandler turned out to be the kind of match-up that just begs for a rematch. It’s a shame that, to get it, Alvarez must know get through another tournament.
-Michael Chandler def. Eddie Alvarez via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:06 in Round 4
-Hector Lombard def. Trevor Prangley via TKO (Punches) at 1:06 in Round 2
-Jessica Aguilar def. Lisa Ward-Ellis via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Marlon Sandro def. Rafael Dias via Submission (Head-Arm Choke) at 3:56 in Round 1