Bellator kicked off their first season on Spike TV with Bellator 85 in Irvine, Calif.

On the card were two title fights and they didn’t disappoint. The first fight between Pat Curran and Patricio Freire in the featherweight division was a close and hotly-contested fight that ended with Curran retaining his belt with a split decision victory.

In the second title fight (and main event), Michael Chandler met Rick Hawn for the first defense of his lightweight title. Chandler showed impressive ground skills along with improved speed and striking skills on his way to choking out Hawn in the second round.

Combined with the title fights, the light heavyweight tournament began and the underdogs came out of the woodwork as Jacob Noe upset Seth Petruzelli, while Mikhail Zayats upset Renato Sobral. On the undercard, Emmanuel Newton defeated Atanas Djambazov.

Chandler chokes out Hawn to defend

Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn began trading on the feet, but Chandler eventually shot for a beautiful single leg takedown. Hawn attempted to get back up, but Chandler was right there, stuck to his back, kneeing his leg into oblivion. Hawn got back up and unleashed a nice combo that briefly rocked Chandler before the round came to a close.

Chandler secured another takedown to begin the second round. From there, Chandler worked short elbows until Hawn tried to get up again and Chandler just threw him back to the mat. After manhandling Hawn, Chandler secured back mount, got his hooks in and secured the rear-naked choke victory in the second round.

Curran retains belt with split decision win

The first round was very lackluster between the two highly-ranked featherweights. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire did a better job getting the fight going, initiating the action and seemed to have the slight edge in the standup. Pat Curran did his best to counter and kept the first round relatively close.

The second stanza wasn’t much different than the first. Both fighters seemed to continue the cautious, defensive fighting. Curran picked up the pace a little bit more and landed a sweet, quick head kick that had Freire smiling to take the second round.

Freire got it started in the third round with a head kick that was blocked, but still threw off Curran’s equilibrium. After that the two picked up the volume of strikes and really started to open up.

After ending the lthird round bloodied, Curran still couldn’t find a way to utilize his range. The two fighters banged heads for a second time in the fight and the two were separated and time was called, Freire’s face was visibly swollen up. The swollen face did not affect Freire though, as he was still able to land a nice spinning back-kick near the end of the frame.

Curran and Freire opened up the fifth and final round with more urgency to end this close fight and take it out of the hands of the judges. Both fighters landed crisp combinations and Freire failed on his second takedown attempt of the fight. Much like the fourth, Curran took a lot out of Freire, getting the better of every exchange. Freire and Curran upped the volume of strikes at the end with only 30 seconds to go and went back-and-forth to end the round.

Curran’s jab was very impressive throughout the fight and in the end after a very close fight, Curran was able to take the fight and retain his featherweight belt with a split decision victory.

Noe moves on, TKOs Petruzelli

Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe threw heavy hands to open the fight and eventually Petruzelli went for the takedown. Noe did a good job of stuffing the takedown and pushing Petruzelli’s striking. Petruzelli again went for the takedown and again was stuffed by Noe who worked the failed takedown attempt into turtling up Petruzelli.

It was lights out from there for Noe battered a defending Petruzelli until the referee came in and stopped the fight, handing Noe the first round TKO victory.

Zayats upsets ‘Babalu’ with TKO in the first

After an aggressive opening 30 seconds, Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral and Mikhail Zayats spent a good minute and a half stalled against the cage and eventually needed referee John McCarthy to step in and separate the two. Sobral landed a big right hand and again, the two clinched up against the cage for a good chunk of the remaining first round. McCarthy again had to separate the fighters to re-initiate the action.

A failed takedown attempt led to the two standing back up and Zayats landing a brutal spinning backfist. He followed up with a few shots that dropped Sobral. Zayats smelled blood in the water and jumped on the opportunity to finish off Sobral on the ground and earn the first round TKO victory.

Michael Chandler def. Rick Hawn by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:07 – retains lightweight title
Pat Curran def. Patricio Freire by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) – retains featherweight title
Jacob Noe def. Seth Petruzelli by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 2:51 – LHW tournament quarterfinal
Mikhail Zayats def. Renato Sobral by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:49 – LHW tournament quarterfinal
Emmanuel Newton def. Atanas Djambazov by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:21 – LHW tournament quarterfinal
Aaron Miller def. Joe Camacho by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Jason Lambert def. Hector Ramirez by submission (inverted straight armbar). Round 1, 3:59
J.J. Ambrose def. Brian Warren by submission (guillotine choke). Round 2, 0:50
Savant Young def. Mike Guymon by knockout (punch). Round 2, 0:48
Joe Williams def. Jamie Yager by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:02
Cleber Luciano def. Mario Navarro by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Photo: Michael Chandler (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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.