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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
NOVEMBER 6, 2015 LIVE FROM ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Sean Grande and Jimmy Smith open up the broadcast and highlight the rematches populating tonight's event along with the two title fights at the top of the card.
FIGHT ONE: JUSTIN LAWRENCE VS. EMMANUEL SANCHEZ (FEATHERWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Lawrence opened up with a solid kick. He landed a nice left hook that hurt Sanchez. Sanchez was trying to close the distance, but got cracked by a side kick to the face. Lawrence worked well on the outside, circling out and throwing attacks at will. He missed an overhand right but avoided a counter. Sanchez continued to move forward, though it wasn't very effective, as Lawrence simply circled and attacked. Sanchez jumped in with a missed strike and Lawrence barely missed a big counter. Lawrence kept looking for openings, and he pawed out short combinations as he stepped in. Sanchez finally landed a significant right hand, but it was one strike and Lawrence circled out from there. Sanchez connected on a knee as they fired back and forth, but Lawrence landed a hard right hand in the exchange. Lawrence got in another combination. Sanchez drove him to the cage and clinched. He got in some knees to the thighs. Sanchez really didn't do much but hold Lawrence on the cage. Lawrence separated with a few strikes late. He circled away before the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Lawrence. He had almost all of the offense, so hopefully the judges weren't swayed by simple forward movement.
ROUND TWO: Sanchez tried to fire off some strikes early, but Lawrence effectively circled and landed strikes. He kept firing as Sanchez got in close, and kept circling out when he got backed up. Very good work from Lawrence on that front in this fight. They traded leg kicks after a brief striking exchange. Sanchez grabbed a clinch again and tried to score a takedown off a body lock. Lawrence didn't give him much, and kept himself standing. Lawrence fired off a few knees to the body. Sanchez was cut open over the left eye. Lawrence stuffed another takedown attempt, but Sanchez just held him on the cage. They were warned to work by ref "Big" John McCarthy, but Sanchez wasn't doing much. They traded knees to the body. He tried to score a trip off a body lock, but it was going nowhere. Lawrence didn't know why they weren't getting separated, and then McCarthy finally stepped in. Lawrence landed several strikes in combination. He stepped back in with another combo. Lawrence continued to land strikes to the head and body, while Sanchez was missing. Sanchez then rocked Lawrence out of nowhere with a head kick! The cage kept Lawrence up. Sanchez got in another knee but Lawrence recovered and made it to the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Sanchez? That's a tough one, but that huge kick to the jaw may have swayed things along with Lawrence being stuck on the cage in that clinch. It's tough because Lawrence still did a lot more offensively in the striking game, but he got caught by the worst of it late.
ROUND THREE: Sanchez came ahead and landed a body kick. Lawrence scored a few strikes, and then Sanchez clinched up again. Once again very little happening in the clinch. Sanchez went for a takedown, and this time briefly got it. He took Lawrence's back standing and dragged him down, but Lawrence turned into his guard. Sanchez landed some elbows from his back. He tried to attack for a triangle. Lawrence landed a few strikes from the top, but Sanchez was more active from his back. Sanchez tried to attack for a kimura, but lost it. Still, he went back to firing elbows from his back. Sanchez finally got to the cage. He tried to get up, then attacked for a knee as he rolled through. Lawrence defended, then passed himself into side control. Sanchez scrambled up. Sanchez moved ahead and they traded strikes. Sanchez shot in, but got stuffed at the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Sanchez. I don't think Lawrence really recovered from that late second round head kick. He was on top for a lot of that round, but all of the action was from Sanchez off his back. Going to be some interesting scores here, and I don't think you can argue against 29-28 either way.
WINNER: Sanchez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (*+) Rough loss for Lawrence, especially with how strong his striking looked early. But in this sport, one kick or punch can turn everything on its head, and that's what happened with that kick to the jaw, and then Lawrence just didn't have any offense in the third despite the top position. Sanchez took advantage from there, and it's hard to fault the decision handed down. FIGHT TWO: BOBBY LASHLEY VS. JAMES THOMPSON (HEAVYWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Thompson came forward and landed a couple strikes. Lashley stepped back, then shot in with a quick and effective takedown. He passed to side control and landed some heavy strikes. Thompson turtled up and Lashley landed some big strikes. Thompson wasn't defending, Lashley continued landing heavy punches and hammerfists, and the ref stepped in. Thompson tried to stand and fell. Looks like his knee got injured on that takedown. I think he just gave up from there. Ouch.
WINNER: Lashley via TKO at :54 of the first round
STAR RATING: (*) Nothing much to it. Thompson got hurt on the takedown, Lashley took advantage, and avenges one of only two losses on his career record. FIGHT THREE: MICHAEL CHANDLER VS. DAVID RICKELS (LIGHTWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Rickels opened with a few kicks early on. Chandler ate a leg kick and threw a hard counter strike. Chandler backed Rickels up and landed several strikes. Chandler scored a solid throw and went to work in Rickels' guard. Rickels tried to lock Chandler down as Chandler tried to find space with which to work. Chandler landed a hard elbow. Chandler landed several body strikes. Rickels did a decent job defending from head strikes. He threw his legs up, Chandler stepped up, and Rickels got to his feet. Chandler landed a hard right hand. Rickels landed a left hand as he tried to press in. He got in a leg kick as Chandler looked to walk him down. Rickels connected on a few strikes. Chandler shot in and scored another takedown into Rickels' guard. He kept that position through the final minute, at one point looking for a submission that didn't materialize.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Chandler. Easy round in the books for the former Champion; Rickels got in very little offense.
ROUNDTWO: Rickels landed a decent counter as Chandler got in. Chandler landed a hard leg kick. He drove Rickels to the cage, then dragged him to the ground. Rickels worked back to his feet and backed Chandler off. They traded punches. Rickels landed a decent left hand. Chandler struck back. Rickels landed several significant strikes in a row, then Chandler dropped him with a right hand. Rickels shot in as he went down, and Chandler grabbed for a headlock. Rickels pulled guard and came up bleeding badly. Chandler unleashed a ton of strikes on the ground. Rickels tried to get up and out, but Chandler went for another choke. He lost it, but went back to the ground and pound. Rickels was a bloody mess as Chandler continued the assault. Rickels tried to kick Chandler off, but Chandler came right back down with another big assault. Rickels finally rolled to his side and covered up, and the ref finally stepped in. Sick part of that for Rickels is he was starting to find success with his strikes before getting clipped. On the replay it was a freaking shotgun of a right hand from Chandler that broke Rickels' nose and sent him down. Great relentless assault from Chandler to finish things off on the ground. Never let up to let Rickels get back in it.
WINNER: Chandler via TKO at 3:05 of the second round
STAR RATING: (**) The second round was starting to heat up a bit, then Chandler just demolished him. He's clearly still a top-end lightweight, and he'll be coming back after Will Brooks if Brooks defends his belt tonight.
FIGHT FOUR: WILL BROOKS VS. MARCIN HELD (LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUNDONE: Brooks took the center early. Held swung wildly to shoot in, but Brooks held off the takedown attempt on the cage. That was brief, though, as Held managed to get him to the ground. Brooks sat up with his back on the cage as Held attempted to improve his position on the ground. Brooks tried to work up to his feet as Held tried to drag him down further. Held tried to lock up a knee bar with his legs and hips to no avail, and the crowd began booing. Brooks got to a knee and finally back to his feet. Held stayed on the takedown attempt, but Brooks then quickly grabbed a body lock and took Held down. Held grabbed for an armbar, then went for the leg. Held continued attacking the leg, went for a toe hold, then went for the knee bar. Brooks was in a little trouble for a bit, but got his leg free. Dangerous spot for him there. He landed a few strikes and got back into a top position in half guard. He landed a couple of forearms late.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Held. The challenger had a very close submission attempt on that knee bar, along with the takedown, while Brooks had little offense overall. Still early.
ROUND TWO: Brooks immediately closed distance, and then took Held down with a body lock into side control. He tried to set up an arm triangle, but Held got him into guard and immediately looked to work from the bottom. Held tried to work toward a triangle, but Brooks postured out. He turned it into an armbar, then omoplata attempt. Back to the knee bar attempt from Held. Brooks playing with fire against his challenger thus far. Held tried to straighten out the leg, but lost it. Brooks used that to transition into mount. He tried to set up an arm triangle choke from the top, but Held defended well. Held escaped and got him to half guard, but Brooks transitioned to the arm triangle as he attempted that. It was up against the cage in an awkward angle, so he lost the hold, but got back to full mount. He landed a hard elbow from the top. He postured up to do some more damage. He continued getting some shots in from the mount, but Held made it to the end of the round after giving up his back.
WINNER: 10-9 Brooks. Perhaps trying to make a point, he went right into Held's wheel house and took control. Good round for the Champion.
ROUND THREE: Brooks scored another easy takedown to start and got in Held's guard. Little happened in the opening minute or two, then Held tried to attack from his back. The crowd got a little restless on the methodical ground fighting for this one. Held tried to attack off his back, but Brooks wound up back in half guard. Brooks landed some strikes from the top as Held found little success with his attacks. He rolled again for a leg, but the round rode out to the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Brooks. Held continues to attack, but Brooks is holding position well and not giving him many openings.
ROUND FOUR: Held came out swinging, then rolled through for a knee. He then transitioned for the heel hook, but lost it, and Brooks wound up back on top in Held's guard. He didn't do a ton early in that spot, and Held continued to try to set something up from his back. It got over by the cage, and once again Held tried to attack the legs. He nearly got something, but lost it again, and Brooks did some more damage on top to the bell. Not much to these rounds, but Brooks taking them.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Brooks. Getting dull down the stretch.
ROUND FIVE: Brooks landed a solid left. He cracked Held with a combination up against the cage and clinched. He took Held back down into half guard. Brooks continued working from the top as the crowd kind of had it with the ground fighting. Held was avoiding most damage, but Brooks was doing plenty to hold position. They were then eventually stood up with just under two minutes left. Brooks doing more than enough to win this one, it just hasn't been much of an entertaining fight. Held rolled for a leg once again, but Brooks got back on top in half guard, and continued to ride things out.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Brooks. Just not much Held could do. Wasn't pretty, but this is Brooks' fight.
WINNER: Brooks via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
STAR RATING: (*+) Really not much to that one. Brooks said his knee popped from an early sub attempt from Held in the first round, and that led to him taking the fight to the ground. Smart strategy on his part in that case. Wasn't all that fun to watch, but good work to win the fight despite suffering that injury.
-Bellator announces that Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie III and Kimbo Slice vs. DaDa 5000 will top their Feb. 19 event at the Toyota Center in Houston. Ugh.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FIVE: PATRICIO "PITBULL" FREIRE VS. DANIEL STRAUS (FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUND ONE: Pitbull worked on the outside early, but both fighters were hesitant early to engage. After Straus finally stepped in with a strike, Freire grabbed a clinch and drove him to the cage. Straus got free, and they traded strikes before Straus initiated the clinch. Straus nearly secured a takedown, but Freire was right back up. He landed a big knee with an elbow behind it. Straus threw out a hard right hand and backed Freire off. Straus shot in and scored a brief takedown, but Freire scrambled up. Straus threw a flying knee that grazed Pitbull. Freire clinched up after an exchange. Straus held it off, then Freire came back ahead. Straus got in an uppercut late and blocked a kick.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Straus? Close opening round. Challenger seemed to have slightly more success.
ROUND TWO: Straus moved forward, pawing out some strikes. Freire initiated a clinch and landed some big knees and uppercuts to the body. Straus got in a few strikes and they traded. Freire landed a nice knee and stepped back. Straus got in a strike and circled out. Straus then knocked Freire down with a left hand out of nowhere! Freire grabbed for an armbar! Straus picked him up and dropped him down to loosen the hold. Freire tried to survive as Straus landed several big elbows and forearms. Freire attacked for a kimura as he tried to get his bearings on the ground. This division in Bellator is ridiculous. Straus stood up and looked to set up a front choke as Freire got to a knee. Freire worked back to his feet and tossed out a solid combination. Straus threw a head kick that got caught. He landed another jab late before the bell. Wow.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Straus. Close to 10-8 given the amount of damage done there. Seriously, how insane has this featherweight division been in Bellator? These guys just keep taking each other out and trading wins and losses, and Straus is trying to get his win over Freire here.
ROUND THREE: Straus pressured immediately and landed a few strikes. He rocked Freire with another counter left in the center. Freire seemed to just be going on instinct. Straus slipped and then went for an ankle. Freire held it off. Freire landed a hard right hand. Things slowed a little bit. Straus missed a few strikes. Freire landed a nice counter-combination. Straus ducked under a combo and landed a hard counter again. Freire had his wits about him again, as he was moving out of the way nicely and landing counters. They traded strikes. Straus shot in, but got stuffed. Freire got poked in the eye and things stalled. They restarted, and Freire started landing. Straus returned fire, but Freire got the better of the attacks. Close round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Freire. Real close, but I think Freire did more offensively that round.
ROUND FOUR: They clinched early on. Straus broke it with a nice elbow. Freire landed a hard inside leg kick. Straus landed a body shot. They accidentally clashed heads again. Straus almost had an opening to take advantage, but McCarthy stepped in. Freire landed a nice counter-right after a missed kick. They traded strikes and Freire got the better of the exchange. Freire again landed a big combination. Straus connected on a right hand. Freire pressed him to the cage and landed a combination. Straus shot in, Freire sprawled and nearly grabbed a headlock. Straus ladned a strike. Freire landed another combination. And another. Straus fired back, and they traded punches. Freire with another big combination on the cage, and he avoided a counter-attempt. Freire shot in late.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Freire. The commentary is ridiculous at the moment, but that was all Pitbull's round.
ROUND FIVE: Straus tossed out several strikes that didn't hit their target early. Freire shot in, but Straus sprawled. They worked in the clinch with Freire turning him around. They traded strikes. Pitbull scored a late takedown and took Straus' back. He got his hooks in and flattened Straus out! Straus turtled back up. Freire landed some strikes as Straus tried to defend and avoid any serious attempts. Straus got to a knee and Freire tried for a neck crank. Straus finally got free and to his feet. Freire went for another takedown, but got stuffed on the cage. Freire landed a combination. Straus fired back to back him off. They traded punches. Friere got the better of the exchange on the cage, but Straus kept firing back. Freire got in a knee. Then another. Straush landed an uppercut. They continued throwing strikes late. Freire hurt him late but the bell rang.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Freire. The announcing of this fight has been asinine, ignoring the offense that Freire had from the third round on. Jimmy Smith called it a "wipe out" for Straus which is just completely insane. I think Pitbull won three rounds here, though I could see Straus taking the third and/or a 10-8 in the second. Would be fine with Straus winning three rounds, but Smith giving Freire 49-46 is ridiculous because Freire won the last two.
WINNER: Straus via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
STAR RATING: (***) The latter rounds upped the drama, but the commentary hurt the fight. Regardless, Straus did some significant damage and nearly stopped it in that second round. We're going to get a fourth fight between them given Pitbull won the first two, and stopped Straus in January of this year, but good effort from both there.
-That's what we've got for tonight, thanks for joining us! We'll be back tomorrow with our live event report for UFC Fight Night 77.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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