In an alternate universe, a sizable number of us MMA fans are going to shell out the dough for a Bellator 106 pay-per-view on Saturday night, and while we’re going to grumble about it and make all sorts of wiseass comments as to how it sucks, at the end of the day we’re going to be watching. Because, you know, we’re fans. Yet that’s an alternate universe, a mythical place where Tito Ortiz’s body isn’t a barely-mobile sack of bones and bleached hair, and where we’re forced to believe that Eddie Alvarez versus Michael Chandler II is at best second-fiddle to a main event featuring two dudes who can’t cut it in the UFC anymore.
Thankfully, we have reality, and on Saturday night on SpikeTV we get for free what is without question the best Bellator card ever put together. Courtesy of Tito’s fragile neck, we now have the Alvarez and Chandler rematch as a marquee bout, plus King Mo inexplicably getting a mulligan against the nobody who KO’d him earlier this year. We also get Pat Curran, the best featherweight in the world not signed by the UFC, and we get Joe Riggs in a bout that puts a cap on some reality show no one watched. In pretty much every way possible, we the fans get a big plate of awesome served to us on a platter forged of Bjorn Rebney’s misguided hopes and dreams. I’d say that’s worthy of a preview, no?
- Eddie Alvarez vs. Mike Chandler - For the longest time, Alvarez was Bellator’s lightweight champ and the best 155-pound fighter outside of the UFC. Then came Chandler, and the two beat the piss out of each other with such fury that you couldn’t help but wonder if Ares, Thor and Shiva were all watching from the heavens with their jaws agape (Ares: “Dude, are seeing this?” Thor: “I am so freakin’ hard right now.” Shiva: “Did you guys eat all the bean dip?”). And now, a couple years and one very public contract dispute and court case later, Alvarez and Chandler are going to do it again. Does that not thrill you? It sure as heck thrills me, both for the violence these men have already visited upon each other and the way they’ve crushed everyone else. As they’re both intense, hard-hitting wrestlers who tend to make lesser fighters look like dog crap, I expect this one to be every bit the war the last meeting was. But don’t ask me who gets the “W”, because I have no clue.
- Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus - Hey, look, another rematch. In 2009, Curran knocked Straus out in some regional Illinois show. Guess what’s going to happen on Saturday night? That’s right, Curran is going to smoke him again. Which isn’t to say that Straus is a scrub – he’s not, he’s just not one of Bellator’s best 145ers, and he’s not Curran, whose last loss was a decision against Alvarez in 2011. Curran is going to wreck Straus, but any time we get to watch Curran in action is a good time.
- Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton - One of the more acute joys of Bellator’s tournaments is when they bring in UFC vets they expect to clean house, and some no-name comes out of nowhere and destroys them. Heh. Anyway, this bout is yet another rematch, with the first one ending with Newton landing a Hail Mary spinning backfist and King Mo doing his best “tree falling in the woods” impression. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this one will end differently, but who knows.
- Joe Riggs vs. Mike Bronzoulis - Did you watch FightMaster? If so, why? Didn’t The Ultimate Fighter kill any desire within you to ever again watch a fighter-based reality show? Well, whether you did or you didn’t watch FightMaster, all you need to know is that Riggs and Bronzoulis are the finalists of the competition and they’re hella old and whoever wins gets a Harley-Davidson skateboard or something.
- Mike Richman vs. Akop Stepanyan - Like extras on an episode of Law & Order: Super-Special Victims Unit, Richman and Stepanyan are just two featherweight warm bodies acting as placeholders. Or maybe a more apt analogy is that they’re that opening band that no one pays attention to at a huge stadium-sized rock concert. Either way, you don’t need to know or care about these guys. Just use their time in the cage on Saturday night as an opportunity to fetch more Perrier and Cheetos.