Bellator 85: Rick "Genghis" Hawn vs. Michael Chandler
After snatching the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez in 2011, Michael Chandler takes on former Judo-Olympian, Rick "Genghis" Hawn, this Thursday at Bellator 85 in Irvine, California, which will be the first card of the promotion’s to be broadcast on Spike TV after inking a newly signed network deal for 2013.
Focusing on the betting odds between these two, Chandler’s signature victory last year over Eddie Alvarez, and also being the younger fighter by nearly a decade in this match-up, are the biggest contributing factors as to why we’re seeing the champion priced as high as -210 at the moment.
Considering their prior grappling feats before entering the Bellator tournament, the biggest surprise at this stage of their careers is the rate in which both men have been able to develop their striking.
Since dropping down to the 155 pound division, Hawn’s striking has evolved more into a jab/counter right hand-approach which he’s implemented to near perfection against the like of Brent Weedman & Lloyd Woodard, who he beautifully lulled into a massive counter straight-right that sent “Cupcake” crashing to the canvas.
While Hawn’s success with his right hand has been mostly counter oriented, Chandlers’, meanwhile, comes from his range of motion and deceptive accuracy from the outside, which was repeatedly demonstrated in the way he landed and dropped former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez in his fight to win the title.
Bellator 85 Lightweight Championship Prediction
When making our UFC picks, determining who’s able to best dictate the pacing of the exchanges is our toughest task in this match-up.
On one hand I can see Chandler’s aggression at times playing well into Hawn’s accurate counters, and on the other, Chandler’s slight edges’ in speed and output may be what edges out the majority of the striking exchanges over the more reserved approach of Hawn.
Against Eddie, Chandler’s aggressive pursuit of Alvarez in their fight showed a wide variety of potential opening for Hawn’s increasingly potent counter right hand. In fact, during Chandler’s first flurry which initially dropped Alvarez in the first round, it was a wide open counter-right from Alvarez that forced Chandler to back off from the exchange.
The biggest chink in Chandler’s recent fight history is his 2011 encounter with Lloyd Woodard, who in the second round was easily able to stuff Chandlers takedown attempts, reverse him with a kimura and take his back in the final minute of the second round- hardly the effortless destruction we saw from Hawn’s second round TKO over Woodward a year later.
Comparing their general defensive habits, Chandler relies on his head movement and speed while Hawn is the one who tends to show the more instinctually-sound hand positioning and chin placement. Of the two, Hawn has eaten far less hard shots throughout his career.
The favorable age gap and overall speed advantage possessed by Chandler in this match-up are my two greatest issues with backing Hawn here. At the current MMA odds of +205, though, I’m willing to take a shot on us seeing a competitive decision which at the end of the night will could be closely scored 3-2 for either fighter.
Bellator Pick: Rick Hawn +205