Michael Chandler (10-0-0) vs. Rick Hawn (14-1-0)
Michael Chandler gets top position on a fight card that contains two title bouts. For the first defense of his lightweight title he will be facing judo master Rick Hawn at Bellator 85. The event takes place in Irvine, CA, which is the new base of operations for Bellator. This is an intriguing bout, because with only seven decisions between these two competitors combined 24 wins, it is very unlikely this bout will go to the judges.
Chandler captured the lightweight belt by taking a fourth-round submission over longtime champion Eddie Alvarez. While he has not defended it yet, he did knockout veteran Akhirio Gono to stay busy in a non-title match. Chandler is slowly becoming a big threat at lightweight. Having the background of a Division I wrestler allows him to dictate where the fight takes place, and he currently trains at the Alliance gym in San Diego with fighters like Brandon Vera, Dominick Cruz, and Phil Davis. He has started to develop power in his hands, which he showed off in the Gono bout. Age could also play a factor, with Chandler nearly ten years younger than Hawn.
Hawn’s only loss came in a hotly-contested split-decision loss to Jay Hieron in the welterweight tournament finals of Season Four. That prompted his move down to 155, and the weight cut paid dividends, with Hawn knocking two out of his three opponents on the way to his tournament win. Hawn will want to keep the fight on the feet since he has won the majority of his fights by knockout or TKO. The issue will be whether or not Hawn’s judo will be able to stop Chandler from taking him down.
The Bottom Line:
Hawn has proven that he can contend with high-level wrestling in his bout with Hieron. He will be the bigger fighter in this match, and will use that size advantage when he earns a second-round TKO.