Bellator 85: Michael Chandler Defeats Rick Hawn

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2013

Michael Chandler keeps the lightweight belt with a scary rear-naked choke. Photo c/o
Michael Chandler keeps the lightweight belt with a scary rear-naked choke. Photo c/o

The main event to Bellator's Spike TV debut (more or less) added to a solid night of fights filled with exciting finishes. Lightweight champion Michael Chandler fought Season 6 lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn.

The first round had Chandler pressing the action and throwing kicks up and down until taking Hawn to the ground. He would land modest ground-and-pound but never really threatened en route to clearly winning the round 10-9.

In the second round, Chandler took Hawn down early, and after some ground work, he sunk in a  rear-naked choke to earn the tap.

It was a downright scary performance for everyone in Bellator's lightweight division, as Chandler demonstrated improved standup to go alongside his already established wrestling skills.

Chandler originally earned his shot at former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez by winning the Season 4 tournament, beating Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Freire.

He would beat Alvarez in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke after a back-and-forth brawl that ranks among the top lightweight battles ever. He currently sports a perfect 11-0 record.

This is a harsh loss for Rick Hawn who, at 36 years old, was already looking toward the end of his career. The former Judo Olympian sported a 14-1 record coming into the fight and held wins over solid competition including Ricardo Tirloni and Shonie Carter.

Bellator still needs to determine its Season 7 lightweight tournament winner in order to decide who will be the next title challenger for Chandler.

Marcin Held and Dave Jansen were scheduled to fight at Bellator 84 in December, but the fight was canceled when the 20-year-old Held was refused entry to the Horseshoe Casino where the event was taking place (the venue had a strict 21-and-over age limit).

We'll keep you posted on more Bellator news as it becomes available!