Bellator 97 is in the books from The Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, N.M., and the card delivered an exciting night of bouts amidst the explosive announcement of the Rampage Jackson-Tito Ortiz at the promotion’s first-ever pay-per-view.
Michael Chandler stepped into the cage to defend his lightweight title against David “The Caveman” Rickels. It was a quick and vicious bout, as Chandler floored Rickels with a lightning-quick series of right hands to absolutely put him to sleep inside of a minute. An ultra-impressive return to the Bellator cage for their undefeated flagship champion.
Ben Askren defended his welterweight title against undefeated prospect Andrey Koreshkov. It is was a textbook performance by Ben Askren, who smothered his opponent in typical fashion to earn a fourth-round TKO due to unanswered strikes.
King Mo made his return in the light heavyweight tournament finals, facing off with Jacob Noe. Lawal easily controlled the fight early on with his wrestling pedigree, nailing Noe with some great takedowns coupled with some heavy ground-and-pound. It was more of the same from Lawal in the second, who turned Noe’s face into a bloody mess. The final frame saw Noe absorb more damage as King Mo earned the TKO and the 205 lb. title shot with the gruesome victory.
Ryan Martinez and Vitaly Minakov squared off at in the heavyweight tournament final, with Martinez scoring an early takedown. Minakov came back with an inside trip, and scored a powerful knee to the head. The second saw Martinez opened up substantially. A low blow earned the rare point deduction for Minakov, who came back aggressive with his boxing. The two fighters tired in the final frame, with Minakov controlling the pace with the jab. He mounted Martinez and earned the hard-fought TKO stoppage.
Patricio Pitbull came out smoking and nailed Jared Downing with a big right hand, but couldn’t capitalize on a subsequent guillotine. However, his power striking took over as he floored Downing repeatedly before earning the stoppage with a thunderous right hand.
Bellator 97 Main Card Results:
Michael Chandler def. David Rickels via R1 KO (punches)
Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreshkov via R4 TKO )unanswered strikes)
Muhammed Lawal def. Jacob Noe via R3 TKO (verbal submission)
Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez via R3 TKO (strikes)
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire def. Jared Downing via R2 TKO (strikes)