Most of the hype around Friday night’s Bellator 157 event centers around Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Matt Mitrione.
The two are in separate bouts, as Jackson headlines in his return to Bellator against Satoshi Ishii, while Mitrione makes his promotional debut against Carl Seumanutafa on Spike TV.
But the best fight on paper for the night is the co-main event.
Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler will try to wear the belt once more when he meets Patricky “Pitbull” Freire. The two have long been set to square off, but the fight took on more significance when the promotion released Will Brooks and put the belt up for grabs.
Chandler, a 30-year-old native of Missouri, has won two straight since a three-fight losing skid to Brooks (twice) and Eddie Alvarez. He has looked as his old self in demolishing David Rickels and Derek Campos.
Before his split decision defeat to Alvarez in 2013, Chandler (14-3) had won his first 12 pro bouts. That included wins over Alvarez, Rick Hawn and even Freire via decision five years ago.
A former University of Missouri wrestling standout, Chandler has scored 12 career finishes – six via knockout and six by submission.
Freire, the same age as Chandler, is on a two-fight win streak that includes a decision over Kevin Souza in April and a knockout of Ryan Couture to start the year. Overall, the Brazilian is 5-2 in his last seven, losing only via decision to Derek Anderson and Marcin Held.
This, though, marks his first five-round title fight, as he
twice reached the tournament finals in Bellator before falling.
Ten of his career wins have been knockouts, with one submission also to his credit.
Rampage and Mitrione will garner the headlines, but if you want to see a pure MMA fight between two of the top lightweights in the world, do not miss the co-main event.