Bellator stepped up to the plate for some pay-per-view action with Bellator 120 and, unlike what some people thought would happen, the promotion didn’t swing and miss.

Outside of the main event, which really didn’t bring the anticipated heat, the rest of the card was a pretty good watch. A few different fighters who had received a strong push from Bellator dropped their fights, leading to an interesting future for the No. 2 promotion in MMA.

The biggest outcome—at least in this writer’s opinion—was the Will Brooks victory over Michael Chandler in their interim lightweight title tilt. Brooks’ victory really puts the damper on the Chandler/Alvarez III parade that was almost assuredly to come had Chandler, who was a heavy favorite against Brooks on short notice, won the fight. Brooks didn’t get that memo, though, and made the fight close enough to warrant a decision win over Chandler in the eyes of the judges.

Whether or not you agree with the decision in Brooks’ favor is really irrelevant. The judges declared Brooks the winner, end of story. Now, it is Brooks, and not Chandler, who is in line to fight Alvarez and unify the Bellator lightweight titles…or is he?

“Ed’s contract specifies that Ed can demand a Chandler fight. So, it puts us in a very interesting position now,” Bjorn Rebney told MMAFighting.com.

That’s certainly a quagmire. Despite Chandler’s loss, Alvarez can still choose to fight Chandler. Rebney has sowed the seeds for that possible trilogy. The Brooks win isn’t as big of a disaster for Rebney and company with that ace in his pocket. Chandler can jump over the guy who just defeated him, go back to a very marketable pay-per-view pairing with Alvarez, win the belt and then unify the belts by avenging his loss to Brooks, who just beat him for the interim title. Makes sense right?

The Chandler loss isn’t a big deal when compared to what happened just one fight earlier, when one more of Bellator’s top guys took a tumble. The fight in question, of course, is the odd pairing of Tito Ortiz and Alexander Shlemenko. Ortiz choked out Shlemenko in the first round of their non-title, light heavyweight fight.

It was only Ortiz’s second victory since 2006 and his first fight outside of the UFC since 1998. Good news for Bellator: Shlemenko didn’t lose his middleweight title. Bad news: it devalues the promotion’s champion, regardless of the massive size disadvantage that led to his downfall.

This isn’t to take away from Ortiz, who fought through Shlemenko. The Russian was taking the lead early on before Ortiz landed the takedown that led to the technical submission victory.

With the loss, Shlemenko’s hype took a hit. The fight was a lose-lose for the promotion. If Shlemenko won, then congrats, he beat Ortiz, who hasn’t been in action for two years and was essentially a setup to pad Shlemenko’s record even more. But to lose to Ortiz? Now his stock has dropped for falling to a 40-year-old that many people thought Shlemenko would walk through.

Bellator went wrong here. It had a good champion who beat everybody thrown in front of him since his loss to Hector Lombard. The promotion had built him up as a top-five middleweight, but he couldn’t overcome a fighter who hasn’t been within shouting distance of the light heavyweight top 10 in years. Now, Shlemenko has been overshadowed by the aging Ortiz, who could be gone in the next couple of years, despite what he says about sticking around for a while. It was a bad match-up for Shlemenko, who couldn’t overcome the massive size advantage Ortiz held in the fight.

Despite what I may have said about those two fights, I did enjoy them. The same way can’t be said about the main event, which had a lot of hype manufactured by Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Lawal and Jackson looked ready to knock each other into the front row leading up to this fight, and we finally got the culmination of years of trash talk that was interrupted by a brief year of peace between the two fighters.

Jackson was the favorite to win this fight. Overall, he was viewed as the better fighter, and he has always been a guy to back up his trash talk.

The fight came, but it wasn’t filled with fireworks. Rampage won, but there’s some doubt as to whether he will even face Emanuel Newton. Despite his victory in the four-man tournament, Rampage wants a rematch with Lawal. But is that really a good idea? Is Lawal even going to be around for a rematch?

Bellator 120 had great fights strewn throughout this card, but some of its stars were overshadowed. Now the promotion’s once proud champions have been devalued, and it will lead people to wonder if these guys deserve the hype they get and if they could really compete on the same level with their UFC counterparts.

In the end, Chandler will recover and ultimately face Alvarez in their rubber match. That fight will headline a pay-per-view, and it will give Chandler the opportunity to regain that form that he saw after his victory over Alvarez in their first fight. Furthermore, Brooks’ showing proves he can hang with the best in Bellator, which gives the promotion more than just Alvarez and Chandler to carry the lightweight division.

As for Shlemenko? Well, he isn’t a big middleweight, and his loss did come in a weight class above his typical 185 pounds. This isn’t Bellator’s first experience with a champion losing a non-title fight. Shlemenko should ultimately recover when he returns to defend his middleweight belt and walks through yet another middleweight contender. The Russian is small for a middleweight, and his days of going up in weight are now in the past.

The winners from last night’s main card aren’t going to be headlining Bellator’s pay-per-views for long. But for right now, they represent the type of fighters Bellator needs in order to continue to try to at least stake a tiny claim in the pay-per-view market. Rampage and Ortiz are certainly guys who can draw in the casual fan.

Next up for Bellator: figuring out where to go from here.

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.