Bellator 85 Picks: Lightweight Title Fight Michael Chandler (-170) vs. Rick Hawn (+140)

Rick HawnBellator 85 UCI Bren Events Center in Irvine, California Thursday, January 17, 2013 Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler (-170) vs. Rick Hawn (+140) Fight Breakdown: Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler finally puts his belt on the line when he takes on Rick Hawn in the main event of Bellator 85. This fight has been a long time coming, so expect both men to step into the cage extremely well prepared to take each other out on Thursday night in Bellator’s big debut on Spike TV. Chandler (10-0) is undefeated in his MMA career and the Bellator lightweight champ, winning the title when he finished Eddie Alvarez by fourth-round submission in their 2011 “Fight of the Year” candidate at Bellator 58. But because of Bellator’s tournament structure, Chandler has only fought once since, TKOing journeyman Akihiro Gono at Bellator 67 last May. Chandler is an excellent wrestler who is extremely fast, has slick submissions and solid striking, and trains at a great camp in Alliance MMA. The 26-year old is a Top 10 MMA lightweight, but he has a very tough test ahead of him here. Hawn (14-1) was an Olympian in judo and has transferred his skills well over in the realm of MMA. Despite being 36 years old, Hawn won the last Bellator lightweight tournament to earn his shot at the title. The TriStar gym product has major power as evidenced in his nine career knockouts, and with his sturdy judo base, it’s very difficult to take him to the floor, making him a stylistic matchup nightmare for most fighters in the division. Hawn is a sizeable underdog in this fight, but he has the tools to win it, and with one punch he can end Chandler’s short reign as the Bellator champ. Fight Prediction: Both Bellator 85 title fights are tough to predict. Chandler should be able to use his speed and push the pace on Hawn, taking the veteran into the later rounds and wearing him out en route to either a late-round stoppage or a decision victory. However, Hawn has serious power in his hands and can end the fight any any time. It’s close, but I think Chandler is going to be able to stay away from most of Hawn’s power shots (although his chin might get tested a bit), plus Hawn’s big weight cut to 155 is going to make him tired and slow him down in rounds 3-5. Chandler should be able to capitalize on that and win by decision, if not by a late submission. Adam’s Pick: Chandler via unanimous decision (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: Chandler is currently sitting anywhere from -220 to -245, which has removed most of the value in the opening line. Although I pick him to win the fight, you can not count out Hawn, who at +200 may even be worth a stab. Ultimately, it may be a fight to just pass on betting-wise and just enjoy as a fan of MMA instead.

Written by Adam Martin.

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