Chandler loses crown on controversial KO
In the main event, Bellator MMA featherweight champ Patricio "Pitbull" Freire now has two titles with the organization, having taken what had been Michael Chandler's lightweight (155-pound) crown with punches 61 seconds into Round 1 in Bellator 221's main event.
"The 31-year-old Brazilian countered a Chandler jab with a perfectly placed right hook behind the ear that sent the onetime NCAA All-American wrestler to the canvas," reported Sherdog.com. "Freire pounced and let more punches fly, forcing his rival to turtle in a kneeling position. Chandler absorbed several more blows to the side of the head and did not adequately respond in Rob Madrigal's eyes, as the referee swooped in for the rescue. The vanquished champion's protest was immediate but fell on deaf ears."
Here's how MMAfighting.com covered the final seconds of the title bout: "As Pitbull followed him down, Chandler turtled but did not move while Pitbull landed a few punches and the referee intervened. Chandler immediately stood up and did not look to be out, protesting the stoppage afterwards."
With the loss, Chandler is now 19-5 in a nearly decade-long pro MMA career… while Pitbull is 29-4 in a fight career going back 15 years.
Hager gets second win in young MMA career
Jake Hager, NCAA All-American heavyweight at the University of Oklahoma who later became WWE champ Jack Swagger before making his Bellator debut this past January, submitted T.J. Jones with an arm-triangle choke at 2:36 of the first round of their heavyweight (265-pound) bout.
"Hager struck for a takedown, softened his counterpart with ground-and-pound and went to work from side control, threatening first with a kimura and then with a keylock," according to Sherdog.com. "The 37-year-old Oklahoman stayed on top, transitioned beautifully to the arm-triangle and prompted the tap."
Some in the crowd didn't like the former Sooner's end-of-bout behavior. Here's what MMAjunkie.com had to say:
"Jake Hager didn't seem to make any new fans with the Chicago-area audience Saturday night … he held on to the choke a few seconds longer than most fans seemed to find acceptable -- and probably longer than referee Mike Beltran found acceptable, too."
"I meant no disrespect, but you're going to have to make me stop," Hager said in the post-match interview, perhaps channeling his previous heel role as WWE champ Jack Swagger. "I thought the referee was him. You all can boo me all you want, but you're not in here right now. … I knew once I got on top, he's not getting up."
With the win, Hager -- who grew up two blocks from legendary amateur and pro wrestling champ Dan Hodge in Perry, Okla. -- is now 2-0 in his MMA career, while T.J. Jones' pro record is now 1-2.
Tywan Claxton picked up a victory to improve his pro MMA record to 5-0 (Photo/Bellator)
Claxton remains perfect in MMA
Tywan Claxton -- an NCAA Division II All-American wrestler at King University in Tennessee who became a two-time NCAA Div. I championships qualifier for Ohio University -- continued his flawless 18-month career in MMA with a TKO at 2:09 of Round Three of their featherweight (145-pound) bout.
"In the main card opener, Tywan Claxton had his way with James Bennett en route to a third-round stoppage win," according to MMAfighting.com. "The NCAA D-II All-American dominated Bennett with his wrestling, taking the former Marine down at will and working him over on the ground, even taking his time to shout out 50 Cent (who was sitting cage side) while punishing Bennett with strikes. In the end, Bennett held tough for as long as he could but by the third round, the referee was forced to intervene."
The 26-year-old Claxton is now 5-0 in the pro MMA career he launched in November 2017, while Bennett drops to 4-2.