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Bellator 106 Preview: Chandler & Alvarez Look To Repeat Their 2011 “Fight of the Year”

Bellator 106 Preview: Chandler & Alvarez Look To Repeat Their 2011 “Fight of the Year”

It’s kind of tragic how Bellator 106 may have been lost in the shuffle of MMA popular opinion. It’s a heck of a show and it’s going to be brought to MMA fans “free” on Spike TV tomorrow night, 9 pm EST.

(Sure, cable TV isn’t free where I live… but hey, you know what I mean.)

We all know why it got lost. Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson were to headline the first Bellator PPV tomorrow night. Reaction was mixed about that bout, even from me.

Then, the bout is scrapped when Ortiz reported an injury. The card is shuffled a little, moved to Spike TV instead of PPV.Laughing at Bellator’s expense ensues, including the typical jabs from Dana White.

Here’s what’s being forgotten: that brings Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez’s rematch of 2011’s fight-of-the-year candidate to the top of the card (where it belongs), and brings the PPV price down to $0.

Hey, you take the good with the bad, and this is a lot of good!

In case you’re unaware of the greatness of Chandler and Alvarez’s first bout, back in November 2011 at Bellator 58, give it a look. While you’re there, give a look to Bellator’s fine preview show, Unfinished Business.

That night, the heavily favored Bellator Lightweight champion Alvarez would find himself overwhelmed with strikes, and nearly stopped in the first round, against Chandler — at that point, regarded a simply a solid young fighter, and not a contender.

Alvarez would fight back in the second to battle to a standstill.

The third round was all Alvarez: the champ pounded away with solid punching combinationsto the head and body, as Chandler desperately looked for the takedown. Then, a big pair of right hands dropped Alvarez to the mat, where Chandler, in only his ninth professional MMA bout, quickly got the finish with a rear naked choke.

Now, that’s a fight-of-the-year candidate. A fight-of-the-year isn’t a one-sided beatdown with a great third round, like Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez.  Sure, that bout was entertaining but fight-of-the-year candidate needs a little more ebb and flow. It will gets you invested emotionally, but it should also offers some technique to enjoy, too. It’s a mixed martial arts contest, not a matter of rock ‘em sock ‘em robots. Maybe it wasn’t as glamorous as the same week’s Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua bout, but — with what, three near finishes? It was even better in this observer’s opinion.

Since that historic bout, Chandler has continued to acquit himself well at lightweight, recording stoppage victories against Akahiro Gono, Rick Hawn, and David Rickels. His finish of Hawn is, impressively, the only loss within the distance that Hawn has suffered in his 19 bout MMA career.

Unfortunately, Alvarez found himself sidelined with issues with Bellator and remained inactive since October of last year. He did rebound from the Chandler loss to stop both Shinya Aoki and Patricky Pitbull with strikes.

There’s another X-factor in addition to any concern of ring rust: both men have switched camps since their last meeting. Chandler moved from Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas to Alliance MMA in San Diego in 2012, where the All-American wrestler seems particularly excited about his improved jiu-jitsu.  Alvarez is now training with the infamous “Blackzilians” in Florida, where he seems particularly excited about his improved standup skills.

Too many missed the great first bout between these two. Don’t miss the second. No excuses!

As always, thanks for reading and enjoy the fights.

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