Bellator 197: Michael Chandler and AJ McKee are Ready for their Title Shots

St. Charles, Missouri – The hometown kid reigned supreme in the main event of Bellator 197 as former Bellator lightweight kingpin Michael Chandler (18-4) slept fellow contender Brandon Girtz (15-8) with a first round arm triangle choke. The gulf in class was evident as soon as the fight hit the mat, with Chandler advancing to side control in sublimely athletic fashion before sinking the choke on his helpless foe. Girtz struggled like a champ and ended up going to sleep instead of tapping, but that’s the only positive he’ll be able to take from this one as Chandler looked characteristically spectacular. Michael Chandler set a new Bellator record with his 15th win in the promotion – and more importantly, the ex-champ set himself up for a showdown with the man who took his belt via injury TKO last June, Brent Primus.

 

Bellator 197 Co-Main Event – Featherweight:

AJ McKee (11-0)  UD3  Justin Lawrence (11-5)

If AJ McKee hadn’t already convinced you that he was a legit contender before Bellator 197, he should have your vote now following this flawless performance against talented UFC vet Justin Lawrence. Mullet man Lawrence was aggressive and game, even shooting for a takedown early in the match against the lifelong wrestling stud. But the bouncy McKee repelled those efforts and kept his man at bay with nasty kicks, including a nice liver shot that briefly folded Lawrence in place midway through the first. When the fight settled into a standing ryhthm McKee picked out single shots expertly before slipping comfortably away from Lawrence’s wide counters. The former RFA champ was buckled by a straight punch from McKee midway through round two, but he kept on pressing forward and finally managed to land a handful of strikes late in the stanza. With the decision in hand after two rounds, McKee decided to keep the fight at grappling distance early in round 3 before bouncing around at range until the fight concluded. AJ McKee walked away with nary a scratch on his face, and with another clean unanimous decision victory on his record thanks to this strong showing. It will be fun to see what McKee can do when Bellator finally books him against a top flight contender – he’s definitely earned it at this point, with 11 wins in 11 Bellator appearances.

 

Bellator 197 Fight 2 – Welterweight:

Logan Storley (8-0)  UD3  Joaquin Buckley (8-2)

Bellator has focused its recent prospect-signing efforts on former amateur wrestling stars, so longtime observers weren’t surprised when they chose to add former AXS Fights star Logan Storley to their stable of welterweights. Fellow wrestler Joaquim Buckley had no answer for Storley’s persistent takedown efforts and consequently found himself planted underneath the Power MMA rep for the bulk of this 15 minute contest. Storley used a low-risk gameplan to gradually advance to mount, which is where he found himself at the end of rounds 1 and 2. But despite his positional dominance, the pro-Buckley crowd wasn’t enamored of Storley’s efforts and greeted his performance with boos. Pretty or not – and it wasn’t – the South Dakota native got the job done and stayed perfect in his first Bellator main card appearance.

 

Bellator 197 Fight 1 – Welterweight:

Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr (3-1)   Sub1-RNC   Devon Brock (1-1)

If you blinked then you missed this main card opener, as Baby Slice flattened recent Gracie-killer Devon Brock with a big right hook to the ear just seconds in before settling into mount. Slice wailed away with ground strikes as Brock struggled, and when the underdog gave up his back Slice sunk in the RNC for his second straight submission victory in Bellator. Not bad at all for the rookie, who is doing a pretty good job of growing up inside the cage under the bright lights and now owns the seventh-fastest submission in Bellator history.

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