Forget Forest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar. Now the fight is Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez II.
In a stunning, five-round classic, Alvarez defeated Chandler by a split decision to regain the Bellator lightweight championship.
“I had a feeling in my gut I was going to be a new lightweight champion,” Alvarez said in the post-fight interview.
The two waged an epic, bloody war, trading punches like the fight was filmed on a Hollywood set. The fight was back-and-forth, up-and-down, and thrilling from the opening to final bells. The fight ended appropriately, with both Alvarez and Chandler on their knees, even engaging in a mild fist-pump and embrace.
“It was a great,” Chandler said. “Whatever. Just another fight. Get back to the drawing board. See what happens next.”
The battle had the Long Beach, California crowd on its feet. With less than a minute left in the fight, the crowd went nuts, chanting “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.”
Chandler nearly finished him in the first round, but Alvarez, who usually endures a knockdown or two early in his fights, survived. Chandler had him in a choke early, but Alvarez escaped. Early on, Chandler was the quicker, stronger fighter, but he let Alvarez off the hook when he had him in trouble, and Alvarez started to land more blows, with his awkward style.
Alvarez opened a cut under Chandler’s left eye early in the second round, but Chandler stayed in control, pushing Alvarez back with his punches. Chandler got a big takedown in round two, followed by another.
But Alvarez always remained in the fight. In round three he started to land with with more kicks and the tide seemed to shift.
Chandler’s left eye swelled nearly shut at the end of round three. Chandler nearly finished him in the fourth round with a wild ground-and-pound, then a submission, but Alvarez sucked it up and hung in there. The two traded positions in the final round, putting on a grappling display that put the crowd on its feet. The two traded dominant positions, and both fighters were seconds away from finishing the other, before powering out.
After the cancelation of the main event of Tito Ortiz vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the Chandler vs. Alvarez main event was exactly what Bellator needed. These were two fighters in their primes, engaging in high-level drama on live TV.
Eddie Alvarez wasn’t even supposed to come back. By now he was supposed to be in the UFC.
But Bellator, the company he grew up in, and the one that made him a star, made him stay. Bellator counter-offered the UFC’s contract offer, and blocked the deal, and forced Alvarez to stay by claiming its contract was as good as the UFC’s.
Bellator Main Event Results
Fight Winner Round Result
Alvarez vs. Chandler Alvarez 5 SD (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
King Mo vs. Newton Newton 5 UD (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Straus vs. Curran Straus 5 UD (49-45, 48-46, 48-46)
Bronzoulis vs. Riggs Riggs 3 UD (30-27)
Stepanyan vs. Richman Richman 1 TKO (4:05)
Bellator Preliminary results
Fight Winner Round Result
J. Smith vs. D. Smith J. Smith 3 UD (All three judges 29-28)
Cleber Luciano vs. Joe Camacho Luciano 3 UD (All three judges 30-27)
Aaron Miller vs. Mike Guymon Guymon 2 SUB (triangle choke, 4:20)
Hector Ramirez vs. Brandon Halsey Halsey 1 TKO ( :52)
Alejandro Garcia vs. Christiano Souza Souza 3 SUB (3:06)