Here are my brief, rapid-fire thoughts on the fights that just took place…
-I expected Michael Chandler’s blend of speed and power to be too much for Rick Hawn to handle, but I didn’t think Chandler would be able to take Hawn down so easily. Chandler’s first takedown attempt was so quick that Hawn didn’t even have time to react to it, let alone muster a defense. On the ground, it was all Chandler, as Hawn clearly was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with being on his back. Chandler is one of the very best lightweights in the world, and with Eddie Alvarez presumably moving to the UFC (if he can sort out his legal dispute with Bellator), I don’t see anybody in the Bellator lightweight division who will be able to hang with him.
-Hawn is still a very good fighter, but this fight showed the difference between a lightweight who is a solid “A” and a lightweight who is a solid “B”. There are a lot of fighters that Hawn has the skill to beat, but he’s just not quite good enough to beat elite lightweights.
-I enjoy fights like Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, but as great as fights like that are, I enjoy fights like Pat Curran vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire even more. It’s hard not to be impressed with Curran’s boxing – unlike most MMA fighters, Curran has good fundamentals, tight defense, and technical, effective offense. He’s also shown the ability to throw effective strikes without compromising his takedown defense, which is very important as well. With all of that said… if it was a three-round fight, it would have been 29-28 Pitbull. What won the fight for Curran was superior conditioning, as Curran looked fresh in the championship rounds, while Pitbull really faded. In the first three rounds, Pitbull threw with speed and power, and his strikes came in combinations. In the championship rounds, Pitbull’s speed and power were gone, and he was throwing single shots instead of combinations.
-Out of all divisions in MMA, the featherweight division has the most top talent not fighting in the UFC. Curran and Pitbull would both easily be title contenders at 145 pounds in the UFC, and the same goes for Daniel Straus as well.
-According to Renato “Babalu” Sobral, his daughter was pleading with him to stop fighting. He should listen to his daughter. Mikhail Zayats hits hard for sure, but it’s not good to be dazed by a spinning backfist of all things. Sobral comes from a generation of fighters whose time has come and gone. He’s now fought 47 times in professional MMA, he’s been fighting for over 15 years, and now he’s been knocked out three times in five fights, all in the first round. Sobral has had a great career in MMA, but if he doesn’t call it quits now, he’s going to regret it later.
-I knew that Jacob Noe would have a good chance of beating Seth Petruzelli if he took the fight to the ground. What I didn’t expect was for Petruzelli to shoot takedowns. Petruzelli was doing just fine on the feet, landing a few big punches and some kicks. But when he shot in for a takedown attempt, Noe forced Petruzelli onto the ground, and Petruzelli immediately turtled and just ate shots until the referee had to stop the fight. In a tournament with Muhammed Lawal and Emanuel Newton, Noe has very little chance of actually going all the way. If he runs into Newton, he’s in trouble, and if he runs into Lawal, he’s just done.
–Atanas Djambazov had a 17-2 record full of wins against cans, and against Emanuel Newton, he looked like a fighter who is used to fighting cans. Djambazov attacked recklessly early, and hit Newton with a few punches, but was exhausted by the end of the first round. The worst thing that can happen to a fighter is to be exhausted while his opponent is fresh. Newton illustrated that by getting Djambazov to the ground, and tapping him out in the second round.