Bellator 67: Chandler TKOs Gono, Baker defeats Saunders
Written By: Jordan Maskell
Photography By: Randi Lotsberg
Fans were treated to some world class mixed martial arts Friday night as Casino Rama once again hosted the Bellator Fighting Championship.
The main event featured Bellator Lightweight champion Michael Chandler defeating veteran Akihiro Gono by TKO. Chandler kept pressing early in the fight, forcing Gono to back away. With almost a minute into the first round, Chandler landed a big right hand, knocking Gono down, and finishing him with strikes at 56 seconds. At the post fight press conference, Gono announced his retirement from mixed martial arts competition.
Bryan “The Beast” Baker defeated Ben “Killa B” Saunders by unanimous decision in an intense three round bout. The fight went back and forth, with Saunders going for both a kimura and triangle in the first round. Baker was able to escape, and stopped any further submission attempts by Saunders. The second round saw Baker take more control of the fight, pressing Saunders against the cage and landing some powerful shots. Near the end of the round, Baker took Saunders down, gained side control and dished out some ground and pound. The third round was more of the same, with Baker controlling the fight, getting takedowns and even slamming Saunders to the canvas. At the end of three rounds, the judges scored it 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 in favour of Baker who advances to the finals of the Bellator Season Six Welterweight Tournament.
The only heavyweight bout on the card featured Damian Grabowski win a decision victory over Dave Huckaba. The fight was very close, with each man gaining the upper hand at different times during the three rounds. Grabowski utilized takedowns and ground and pound throughout the fight, while Huckaba focused more on striking and showcased fairly decent takedown defense. At the end of three rounds, the judges awarded the fight to Grabowski, with all three scoring the fight 29-28.
In what may have been fight of the night, Ryan “The Real Deal” Ford defeated Luis Santos by TKO (knee strikes) at 1:24 into round two. Ford seemed to be in trouble during the first round as Santos landed some powerful strikes including knees, and a head kick. Santos was able to get Ford to the ground, kept him pressed against the cage, and delivered some elbows and punches. However, Ford weathered the storm and came out strong in the second round, landing some nice combos and kicks. Santos attempted to keep Ford pressed against the cage, but “The Real Deal” managed to land knee strikes, dropping Santos, and forcing the referee to stop it.
In other action, welterweight Nordine Taleb finished Matt MacGrath by TKO at 2:30 of round two. Taleb landed some big combos in the first including a flying knee, but MacGrath answered back, getting Taleb against the cage and landing some strong shots. Nearing the midway point of round two, MacGrath shot for a takedown, Taleb avoided it, and finished the fight by punches.
Featherweight Will Romero also had an exciting TKO win over Matt Veal. The first round was more evenly matched with both men showcasing their striking, while Veal got a takedown late in the round. During the second, Veal dropped Romero with a punch but he was able to recover quickly. Following this Romero landed some good combos and knees, overwhelming Veal against the cage, causing the referee to stop it at 4:25 of round two.
Other fights on the card saw Dom O’Grady submit Nathan Gunn via an armbar in the second round, David “Bo” Harris won a unanimous decision over Nick Kirk 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, and Cosmo Alexander defeated Lorawnt Nelson in a decisive 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 victory.