The Juggernaut MMA News Report 10.31.13: BellatorMANIA
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 10.31.2013
Eddie Alvarez gets his rematch against Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 106! 411's 411's Jonathan Solomon breaks down the stacked card. Plus news and thoughts on Rampage Jackson's new opponent, Dominick Cruz's return to the UFC and more!
BELLATOR 106 PREVIEW
Yes, you can insert your own jokes relating to Tito Ortiz's injury and the fact it forced Bellator and Viacom's hand to postpone their entry into the pay-per-view market. However, all that changed for everyone else is there's now one of the biggest shows left of the year happening this Saturday night out in Long Beach, California and it airs live on Spike TV.
Three title fights, each scheduled for five-rounds and then some, with expectations sky high for them all.
LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION MICHAEL CHANDLER VS. EDDIE ALVAREZ
Rarely does a fight carry significant weight not just from a past bout but also from what transpired out of the cage in contract negotiations and the courtroom. However, that's where we find ourselves when looking at Saturday's main event which will see the undefeated champion Michael Chandler and former champ Eddie Alvarez lock horns for the second time in two years.
When they first met, in November 2011, Eddie was the dominant champion and considered one of the elite fighters in the division worldwide. Entering November 2013, Alvarez has not seen the cage in over a year, spending more time this year inside a courtroom battling Bellator for his contractual freedom. The two sides settled their case late in the summer, allowing Alvarez the opportunity to return and immediately walk into a rematch. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a win for the former champion this weekend will lead to a third fight and regardless of what happens, he will then be allowed to become an unrestricted free agent. However, a loss and Alvarez will become a free agent right away (clearly though, time and a loss will have damaged his price in the eyes of the UFC, who wanted to sign him earlier this year).
Chandler (12-0) choked out Alvarez to become champion and has spent this year defending that gold in dominant fashion. He choked out Rick Hawn in January and knocked out David Rickels in July. The 27-year-old former University of Missouri wrestler is easily one of the best four or five lightweights in the world and with a win Saturday, the case could be made that only UFC champion Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson are a slight step above at the moment.
Following his loss, Alvarez returned in 2012 to finish a pair of fights in the first round as he knocked out Shinya Aoki and Patricky Friere. The win over Japanese star Aoki avenged a loss from 2008 in and this weekend allows him the opportunity to avenge his only other loss at lightweight.
The issue about ring rust is in play here because while Eddie has been actively training throughout his time on the sidelines, he still has not had a fight in over a year. This is a guy who fought five times in 2008, four times in 2009 and twice in each since then, until now. He will turn 30-years-old in January and he's nearing that number in career fights (24-3), but as long as he still packs power in his hands, he has the ability to finish this fight with one punch.
Is that his best shot at victory? Perhaps, because Michael Chandler was all over him in their first fight and has only improved since. Due to his great wrestling base, there's little hope for Alvarez to find success with takedowns and ground control. The former champion is also more prone to taking more damage when in a boxing exchange, so the quicker and more agile Chandler should have no problem with getting through to his chin.
FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPION PAT CURRAN VS. DANIEL STRAUS
A season six tournament winner, Daniel Straus is finally receiving his opportunity to challenge Pat Curran. They were scheduled to fight in the spring before a fractured hand forced the former to withdraw and look to the future. That future is this weekend as the second best featherweight in the world prepares to step back in the Bellator cage.
Curran is without a doubt the #2 145-pounder, only behind Jose Aldo, today. Since dropping down to this weight class, he has been perfect with a 6-0 record and was really only tested by Patricio "Pitbull" Freire back in January. That fight, a split decision win, saw Curran use his reach and combinations to defeat the stocky Brazilian. The champion followed that performance up by choking out Shahbulat Shamhalaev in under three minutes in the spring. For his third title defense this year, he's taking on a whole different challenge when it comes to Straus.
The Cincinnati product is 21-4 for his career and Straus has been on a tear with a 5-0 streak since his 2011 decision loss to Pitbull. He has not fought since last October in part due to a legal issue (he was arrested and charged with drug violations after his car was found to be in possession of illegal items, while he maintains his innocence under the guise that the materials never belonged to him) and then the broken hand. Regardless of it all, the bulk of what got him to this point is his constant wrestling attack. He'll be giving up about six-inches in the reach department so you can bet he'll go for his bread and butter, meaning he'll shoot in day and night unless Curran knocks him down.
Straus has an aggressive wrestling shot, but even when Curran went toe-to-toe with great wrestler Joe Warren, we did not see much of how his defense fares. We'll find out Saturday whether Curran can keep the fight standing, keep Straus off of him and force the challenger into more of a kickboxing match. If the answers to all those questions is 'yes,' then it should be another great night for the defending champion.
INTERIM LIGHT HEVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: MUHAMMED "KING MO" LAWAL VS. EMANUEL NEWTON
Champion Attila Vegh was unable to compete, so the promotion jumped at the chance to book this rematch.
Lawal, one of the promotion's big name stars, was upset in February in the semifinals of the season eight tournament by Newton courtesy of a spinning back fist. In his other three Bellator fights, Muhammed has violently finished opponents Przemyslaw Mysiala, Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe. Even better, he has remained clean (he was suspended for the majority of 2012 after failing a drug test for drostanolone) and healthy in Bellator's tournament format, winning this summer's shortened field.
"The Hardcore Kid" bounced back from a summer loss to Attila Vegh last year to take the season eight tournament earlier this year. He choked out Atanas Djambazov, knocked out King MO and bested Mikhail Zayats in a three-round unanimous decision.
Based on their countless number of interviews in the media over the past month, the two share no love loss for one another. Whether any of that helps Lawal make sure his chin is protected instead of dropping his hands is another story. On paper, he should be able to take the fight to the ground and hurt Newton with strikes, but we did not see such offense in the first fight. He likes to show off his boxing skills but perhaps he'll look to put Newton on his back and render moot any questions about his chin.
JOE RIGGS VS. MIKE BRONZOULIS
These men will compete in a welterweight tournament qualifier, also known as the finals of the Fight Master show on Spike TV.
Mike Bronzoulis is a 34-year-old Houston native with a 15-5-1 pro record. He last saw action away from the television show in November on the undercard of Legacy FC 15. He has only been finished on one occasion, his first pro fight in 2007, and it came by armbar. On the show, he finished two of his tournament fights by KO or TKO and defeated Chris Lozano by decision in the quarterfinals.
Fighting him will be 31-year-old Joe "Diesel" Riggs, the man who's fought practically everywhere. He's 39-14 with one no contest in his career and has competed at every weight class from heavyweight down to his current shape at 170-pounds. Currently on a winning streak, he has taken his last five fights, finishing each of them (four KOs and one submission), though the only names you may recognize from the list of opponents are Aaron Brink and Shannon Ritch.
On the show, Riggs took each of his tournament fights by decision and make no mistake, he was and continues to be the overwhelming favorite to win the whole series.
JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS
- The UFC confirmed a double main event for their Super Bowl weekend show on February 1. UFC 169 in Newark will see featherweight champion Jose Aldo defend his gold against Ricardo Lamas while the undisputed bantamweight title will be decided when Dominick Cruz returns to fight Renan Barao. These fights are in addition to the previously announced heavyweight scrap between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir.
- Taking the spot of injured Ian McCall on the UFC on Fox card in December is John Dodson, as he will now fight Scott Jorgensen. This is the show where Anthony Pettis will first defend his lightweight crown against Josh Thomson.
- Robert Drysdale's UFC debut will have to wait another month as he has been removed from the UFC 167 card where he was scheduled to fight Cody Donovan in November. The grappling expert reportedly failed a pre-fight drug test with elevated testosterone levels conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Donovan is now going to fight Gian Villante while we wait to find out if/how long Drysdale may be suspended for.
- Bellator has confirmed Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will debut with the promotion on November 15th fighting Joey Beltran in Atlantic City. Beltran is fresh off a loss to Fabio Maldonado at UFC Fight Night 29 this month.
- Also confirmed for Bellator's upcoming schedule are fights for their November 8th show in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the heavyweight finals are not included because Brazilian Vinicius de Queiroz is dealing with a knee injury preventing him from gaining medical clearance. Instead, semifinalist Cheick Kongo will fight K-1 veteran Peter Graham (in a non-tournament bout). Aside from the big men, bantamweights Joe Warren and Travis Marx will compete in the finals of that tournament and middleweights Mikkel Parlo and Brennan Ward will decide the middleweight tournament champion.
In non-tournament action, James Edson Berto looks for his first winning streak since 2007 when he fights Patricky "Pitbull" Freire, himself facing a three-fight losing streak.
- The World Series of Fighting has set their inaugural featherweight championship fight for December 7th between Georgi Karakhanyan and Rick Glenn. The main event for the event in Vancouver will see Anthony Johnson fight Mike Kyle in light heavyweight action.