On Saturday, Nov. 15, Bellator MMA hosted its 131st event from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.
In the night’s main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz clashed with fellow UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. Ortiz made his promotional debut at Bellator 120 in May and scored a submission win over former middleweight title holder Alexander Shlemenko. It marked Ortiz’s second win in his last 10 fights. Bonnar, meanwhile, had been out of action for more than two years. The 37-year-old was last in action at UFC 153, where he succumbed to a first-round TKO against Anderson Silva.
The main card also featured a lightweight title tilt between interim champion Will Brooks and former title holder Michael Chandler. The pair battled it out at Bellator 120, with Brooks emerging with a split decision win. The 28-year-old Brooks entered the contest riding a five-fight winning streak. Chandler was looking to snap a two-fight skid. The former Missouri wrestler had dropped back-to-back title contests on the scorecards to Brooks and former champion Eddie Alvarez.
The 12-fight event kicked off with a live stream of the preliminary card on Spike.com beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The main card aired live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar battled it out to settle their feud. It was a sloppy fight from start to finish for the two aging veterans. Ortiz was clearly the more dominant fighter throughout the fight. All three rounds were virtually identical as Ortiz would win the striking battle, get Bonnar to the ground and take Bonnar’s back. Bonnar threw looping punches throughout the fight and was gassed early. Bonnar could not find a way to beat Ortiz and was cut and bloodied by the end of the fight. The judges then awarded a split decision to Ortiz, which included a perplexing scorecard in Bonnar’s favor.
Michael Chandler had a couple of opportunities early to finish Will Brooks, but ultimately succumbed to a TKO in round four. In the first round, Chandler had Brooks’ back and looked for a kimura and a rear-naked choke, but Brooks was able to escape. Brooks was getting the better of the exchanges on the feet and, in the second round, found himself in trouble again with Chandler threatening with a submission. Brooks ended the round with some good shots that disoriented Chandler. The third round saw Chandler grind Brooks against the cage, but Brooks was once again winning in the striking battle. The fourth round was going in favor of Brooks before Chandler attempted a throw on Brooks. Brooks quickly assembled himself and landed a right hand that wobbled Chandler. The end was bizarre as Chandler motioned for the referee and started to walk away from Brooks. Brooks saw that Chandler did not have any clue as to where he was and went after him. A few punches later and Will Brooks was waved off by the referee and became the undisputed Bellator lightweight champion.
The fight certainly ended with the knockout everyone expected, but it was Joe Schilling that knocked out Melvin Manhoef. This was Schilling’s first MMA fight in years and the GLORY star was in a bad spot in the first round. Manhoef dropped Schilling late in the first round and was throwing hard ground-and-pound. The fight looked like it was going to be called, but Schilling showed plenty of heart to survive the onslaught and make it out of the frame. Then, in the second frame, Manhoef used an aggressive game plan. Schilling was ready and threw a hard knee to Manhoef against the cage. Manhoef circled away, but was clipped with a hard shot that dropped Manhoef to the mat. No follow-up punches were needed as Schilling earned the clean knockout and his second victory in MMA.
Nam Phan’s Bellator debut did not go well against Mike Richman in the second main-card fight of the night. Richman put on a striking clinic against Phan. Phan was stuck in Richman’s range for the short amount of time the fight lasted and took shot after shot. Richman worked in strikes to the body, kicks and punches before finally rocking Phan. Phan fell backwards against the cage and Richman followed up with a few more punches before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and Joe Vedepo were the first up on the main card and after some interesting walkouts, Lawal eased his way through the fight. Lawal was dominant from start to finish, using his takedowns to control Vedepo on the ground. Lawal threw some heavy shots from the top and was never in any harm in the fight. Vedepo had no answer or any sort of offense against Lawal. After two rounds where Lawal seemed close to finishing the fight, Lawal finally finished the deed in the third with a TKO.
Will Brooks def. Michael Chandler by TKO (punches). Round 4, 3:48 – for lightweight title
Joe Schilling def. Melvin Manhoef by knockout (punches). Round 2, 0:32
Mike Richman def. Nam Phan by knockout (punches). Round 1, 0:46
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal def. Joe Vedepo by TKO (punches). Round 3, 0:39
Joao Faria def. Ian Butler by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 1:58
A.J. Matthews def. Kyle Bolt by knockout (punches). Round 1, 1:39
Jonathan Santa Maria def. Ron Henderson by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Andy Murad def. Bubba Pugh by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Nick Garcia def. Matthew Ramirez by submission (guillotine choke). Round 2, 0:56
Jordan Bailey def. Alex Higley by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 3:27
Rolando Perez vs. Mark Vorgeas ruled split draw (29-27 Vorgeas, 26-30, 28-28)