Bellator 97 is now over and there were hardly any surprises with how the main card fights played out.

Both Ben Askren and Michael Chandler were victorious in defending their titles, while ‘King Mo’ Lawal stopped Jacob Noe to earn a shot at the Light Heavyweight title. Vitaly Minakov and Patricio Freire also won their main card fights in what were strong showings by both fights.

It took Chandler just 44 seconds to beat David Rickels and successfully defend his Lightweight strap for a second straight time. A huge right hand from Chandler rocked Rickels, which allowed the champion to pepper him with strong punches. Chandler’s flurry of strikes knocked Rickels unconscious and he was declared the winner while cementing his status as the top guy in Bellator’s Lightweight division. Chandler improves to 12 wins and no losses following the win.

Ben Askren also cemented his status as the king of Bellator’s Welterweight division after finishing previous undefeated Russian Andrey Koreshkov in the fourth round. As predicted, Askren used his high calibre wrestling skills to put Koreshkov to the ground and pummel him with punches throughout the fight.

Askren did attempt numerous submissions throughout the fight, but Koreshkov defended them well. It was all futile, however, as Askren dictated the fight on the floor, battering the Russian’s face until referee Jason Herzog called a stop to the fight at 2:58 of the fourth round. Like Chandler, Askren also improves to 12 wins and no losses in MMA.

Muhammed Lawal made fairly easily work of Jacob Noe in the Light Heavyweight tournament final, using his strength and wrestling prowess to devastate Noe on the ground. Noe proved his toughness throughout the fight, however, not succumbing to King Mo’s attack until 2:51 of the third round, when the fight was stopped.

The win sets Lawal up for a shot against Light Heavyweight champion Atilla Vegh, but the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight also outlined his desires for a rematch against Emanuel Newton. Newton stunned the MMA community when he knocked out Lawal in the first round of their fight at Bellator 90 in February.

It looks set to be a battle of the Russians for the Heavyweight strap as Vitaly Minakov beat Ryan Martinez via TKO in the third round. While Minakov dominated the overwhelming majority of the fight, Martinez did fall victim to a groin strike in the second, which resulted in a point deduction for the Russian.

Martinez did recover, however, and Minakov got back to his dominating ways en route to the third round victory. The win keeps the Russian undefeated after 12 fights and sets him up for a shot at the strap against fellow countryman Alexander Volkov at a later date.

Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire also got back into the win column after finishing Jared Downing in the second round of their bout. Freire, who came off a split decision loss to Bellator Featherweight champion Pat Curran, showed crisp stand up from the opening bell as he dominated the fight before getting the second round stoppage.

Main Card:

Michael Chandler def. David Rickels via KO at :44 of round 1

Ben Askren def. Andrey Koreschkov via TKO (strikes, ref stoppage) at 2:58 of round 4

Muhammed Lawal def. Jacob Noe via TKO (strikes, verbal submission) at 2:51 of round 3

Vitaly Minakov def. Ryan Martinez via TKO (strikes, ref stoppage) at 4:02 of round 3

Patricio Pitbull def. Jared Downing via TKO (strikes, ref stoppage) at :54 of round 2


Will Brooks defeated Cris Lefya via TKO at 2:20 of Round 3.

Rafael Silva defeated Rodrigo Lima via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:03 of Round 3.

Anthony Leone defeated Frank Baca via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:07 of Round 3.

Bubba Jenkins defeated Mike Barreras via TKO at 1:05 of Round 2.

Jeremy Kimball defeated Keith Berry via KO at 1:45 of Round 2.

Shawn Bunch defeated Russell Wilson via split decision.

Adrian Cruz defeated Felipe Chavez via TKO in Round 2.

Donald Sanchez defeated Cliff Wright via split decision.