Bellator 106 Main Card Preview for ‘Chandler vs Alvarez 2’ on Spike TV

Bellator 106Bellator 106, once headlined by Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz, has now seen a mish-mash of match-up mangling, to bow to the almighty alliteration usage. Now we have a newfangled card featured on Spike TV Saturday night rather than PPV. Let’s take a look at what fights await us. In this restructured main event, Tito and Rampage are out, and substituted in is the rematch between Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler (12-0) and the man whom he took the belt from, Eddie Alvarez (24-3). Neither man has been particularly busy in the two years since their last meeting, with Eddie Alvarez being caught up in a horrible legal dance with Bellator when he tried to leave to the UFC, and Michael Chandler only defending his belt twice in two years, purely due to the inconsistency of Bellator booking. Chandler’s last three fights have been steamrolls, and he hasn’t been challenged since his epic battle with Alvarez. He knocked out Dave Rickels in 44 seconds at Bellator 97, dominated Rick Hawn to defend his belt at Bellator 85 in January of this year, then knocked out Akihiro Gono in May of 2012. Chandler is that rare but beautiful combination of wrestler who has naturally heavy hands. Like a Johny Hendricks with better BJJ and submissions. Alvarez has only fought twice in the last two years, knocking out Shinya Aoki easily in their respective rematch at Bellator 66, then knocking out Patricky Freire at Bellator 76 over a year ago. The time off shouldn’t really affect Eddie too negatively, as he’s a pro and has been doing this a long, long time. But, then again, who knows what kind of mental toll these contract negotiations and now the show being moved from a PPV has done to him and his training. Eddie has fast hands, and is a great boxer with decent takedown defense, but Michael Chandler is the prototype to defeat him again. Especially if Chandler has improved as greatly as he’s boasting. It’s hard to count out a motivated Alvarez, however. In the co-main event, former lightweight tournament winner and now relatively long-time featherweight champion, Pat Curran (19-4) fought last at Bellator 95, defending his belt (that many thought Patricio Freire took at Bellator 85 in a controversial split-decision) against Shabulat Shamhalaev. Curran is a big featherweight that has good jiu-jitsu and is developing some very nice hands. He defends his title against a man he beat several years ago, Daniel Straus (21-4). Straus has won five fights in a row since losing in the finals of the season four featherweight tournament to Patricio Freire. Straus is easily described as a wrestler with submission skills that come more from strength than technique. He’s motivated by his loss to Curran back in 2009, which he lost in a second round knockout. Both men have improved greatly since then, but Curran even more so. Straus will quickly attempt to take the fight to the ground and or get Curran’s back to the cage in an attempt to nullify as much offense as possible. Look for Straus to attempt a grinding win here, with him giving a wrestling clinic. Curran can fight off his back however, but he’s going to want to keep this standing. The next fight is a grudge match for Bellator’s interim light heavyweight title, even though their light heavyweight champion, Attila Veigh has said he’s not injured, as we have King Mo (11-2-1) rematching Emmanuel Newton (21-7-1). Newton caught King Mo in their Bellator 90 fight in February of this year with a spinning backfist, after a flat-footed Mo with no hands up defending himself was kind of showing off next to Newton. Mo has held to his story of it being a ‘lucky’ shot, but it really was Mo’s cockiness that was his undoing. Mo has extremely heavy hands, and he trains with some incredible talent in the Mayweathers and Roy Nelson, so you have to wonder if they tell Mo to always keep one hand down when fighting. Mo is a spectacular wrestler with heavy hands, but if he can’t get the job done immediately, he kind of turns the switch to a wall and staller, which wins fights, but not in the way Mo wants. Newton is kind of an unspectacular fighter who has only really come into his own in the last two years or so. He’s also a wrestler at heart, while not as accomplished as Mo, but he does have twice the fight experience and he knows how to win fights. Mo has spectacular conditioning, but Newton has a knack for wearing opponents out as the fight goes on. He’s also on the best run of his career at 29-years-old, winning 9 out of his last ten fights since dropping the MFC light heavyweight title. This is going to be a good fight. Mo says he’s going to destroy Newton. I’m not so sure. The Spike TV FightMaster final is set as the next fight on the card, with long time MMA veteran Joe Riggs (39-14-1) taking on Mike Bronzoulis (15-5-1). Riggs is past his prime. That must be made clear. He’s only 31-years-old, but he’s been fighting since he was 18, and peaked sometime a few years ago. His run on FightMaster was underwhelming and he’s a year removed from a three loss losing streak to the likes of Kendall Grove and Bryan Baker and Jordan Mein. In my opinion, Riggs still has submission defense issues, and probably lost his chin a few years ago, but he’s still a crafty veteran who knows how to pull out a win in the cage. You can’t take that from him. His opponent is 34-year-old Mike Bronzoulis, and it oddly seems like he’s an “up and comer” compared to Riggs, who has seen it all. Bronzoulis is a veteran of Strikeforce, Legacy Fighting and Shark Fights, never doing overwhelmingly well in any of them. He does have heavy hands, and boasts 10 knockouts, and he’s somewhat tough to put away, so this fight versus Riggs could be tightly contested. Finally, to open the show we have a featherweight feature fight between Mike Richman (15-3) and Akop Stepanyan (13-6). This is somewhat strange matchmaking, but Bellator may be thinking they are pitting two hungry dogs at each other, as Stepanyan, a heavily-hyped M-1 import, has lost 3 out of his 4 Bellator fights, and Richman lost his last fight to Frodo Khasbulaev. Richman is a TUF vet, and is an exciting, balls to the walls fighter who looks to finish (7 submissions, 6 knockouts) and Stepanyan will gladly oblige him. It could be that the fighter with the better gas tank would be favored in this fight, which would mean Richman, but Stepanyan is deadly in the first round, with half of his victories coming in the first frame. This could be a barnburner.

Written by Jason Nawara

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