Former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson moves back down at 155 pounds in search of his first Bellator victory in the main event of Bellator 160, airing at 10 PM EST on Spike TV.
Henderson will face former featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in a #1 contender’s bout with the winner getting a shot at current champion Michael Chandler. Chandler beat Patricio’s brother Patricky to win the belt, and the two got into a heated shouting match after the fight to drum up interest in this potential matchup.
The four-fight main card also features top contender bouts in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions, and rising star AJ McKee Jr. tries to keep his perfect record intact as he moves his way up the ranks.
The show emanates from Anaheim, CA. The prelims kick off the show on Spike.com at 7:50 pm EST with our coverage beginning at 10 PM EST.
Your main card tonight (photos courtesy of Bellator MMA):
> AJ MCKEE JR (4-0) VS CODY WALKER (8-4)
McKee is the son of veteran Antonio McKee and is a highly toutest prospect. Walker is 1-1 in Bellator, both in prelims. This is pretty much a showcase fight for McKee.
ROUND 1- George Allen is your referee. They both came out firing and traded takedowns before McKee took over on the ground in the first minute.
McKee moved into mount and secured an arm triangle 2:15 in but gave it up. McKee has finished every one of his opponents in the first round.
McKee was born the night of the infamous Shamrock-Gracie draw at UFC 5. McKee got side control at 4:00 as he officially is in the longest fight of his career.
McKee all over Walker with punches but ref doesn’t stop it. Elbows from McKee to close it. 10-8 McKee
ROUND 2 – McKee got a takedown to open the 2nd and secured a modified guillotine to get the quick tap.
WINNER – AJ MCKEE (5-0) by submission (guillotine) at 32 seconds of the 2nd
HOT TAKE – McKee was calling for a title shot after the bout. It’s way too early in his career for that but he’s obviously a very talented prospect. All 5 of his career wins have been in Bellator so it’s not like he’s fighting regional tomato cans.
Michael Chandler and Phil Davis are in the arena, apparently controlling the Bellator social media accounts tonight. Davis was going on about a $10,000 bottle of water or something. They are promising an interview with Chandler later tonight.
> BUBBA JENKINS (11-2) VS GEORGI KARAKHANYAN (24-6-1)
CATCHWEIGHT (149 LBS)
This is a rematch of a January 2015 fight that Karakhanyan won by 1st round submission. Jenkins is former 2-time NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler while his opponent is a former WSOF featherweight champion.
Karakhanyan missed weight by 4 lbs, which is why this is being fought at a catchweight. Blake Grice, whose name sounds straight out of the NXT random name generator, is your ref.
ROUND 1 – Jenkins was peppering Karakhanyan with leg kicks in the early going but Karakhanyan dropped him with the first punch he threw and Jenkins went down hard face first. Ref ran in to stop it but not before Karakhanyan landed a couple more shots.
WINNER – GEORGI KARAKHANYAN (25-6-1) by KO (punch) at 53 seconds
HOT TAKE – Jenkins has 3 losses in Bellator now and while he’s an elite wrestler and working on his standup, he’s clearly not in the upper echelon of his division. He’s still young enough where he can rebount though.
Karakhanyan had lost 3 of 4 coming into this and badly needed this win. He’ll probably get a title eliminator fight after this as the champion Daniel Straus is out due to injury.
BONUS COVERAGE – CHINZO MACHIDA (3-2) VS MARIO NAVARRO (4-4) FEATHERWEIGHTS
With two early finishes, we get this fight from the prelims. Machida is the older brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto and is making his Bellator debut.
Machida is 39 years old so you can’t exactly call him a prospect. Big John McCarthy is the ref.
ROUND 1 – Machida has the exact same fighting stance as his younger brother and looks a lot like him as well. Machida threw mostly kicks while retreatinig early as he let Navarro control the pace.
Machida dropped him with a punch 1:30 and was all over him with punches. He let him back up and got staggered by a Navarro punch.
Machida staggered him a punch and then hit him with a hard right shortly after, which buckled Navarro’s knees. Machida followed up with a couple more punches before the ref stopped it.
WINNER – CHINZO MACHIDA (4-2) by KO (punch) at 2:57
HOT TAKE – Machida is a name they can probably throw out there for a couple more years and feed him tomato cans but he’s too old to make a title run or anything. The fact they showed this on TV tells me that his next fight will probably be televised.
They are promising a big announcement next from MVP, Michael Venom Page.
Sean Grande interviewed MVP cageside. He announced that his next fight will be against Fernando Gonzalez, who they also brought out. This is the 3rd time this fight has been scheduled and the they are now scheduled for November 19th in San Jose.
Both are unbeaten in Bellator and this is the first high quality opponent for MVP.
Next they brought out Rory McDonald to a mixed reaction. He looked every bit the “Canadian Psycho” character that he’s done for years. He says that Bellator gave him an offer that no one else could ever match and he promised to put on a show for the fans.
He says he’s taking over and he’s going after Koreshkov and his welterweight belt but he won’t stop there and he’s also going after the middleweight bout after that.
> SAAD AWAD (19-7) VS DEREK ANDERSON (13-2)
These two both got televised walkouts. Anderson is a man after my own heart, coming out to “They Call Me The Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He’s coming off a win over Patricky Pitbull, who just fought for the title, so he’s a real prospect.
Awad out to “California Love”, which is sacreligious in MMA if you’re not Urijah Faber. And Saad Awad is not Faber. He gets a nice pop from the crowd though. Awad actually has a win over Will Brooks, early in both their careers.
ROUND 1 – Jason Herzog is the referee. Both guys throwing bombs early and both knocked the other down in the first 1:15. Awad was able to keep Anderson down whle working for a D’Arce choke.
Awad gave it up at 2:00 and both back on their feet. Crowd applauded that exchange. Anderson standing really flat footed and putting everything into every punch and eating some heavy shots as well.
Awad with a takedown at 3:30 but Anderson secured a triangle from the bottom. Anderson landing punches to the head and gives up the triangle. He ends up on top as the round ends. 10-9 Anderson, but really close
ROUND 2 – Jimmy Smith gave round 1 to Awad but admitted that it was close to a 10-10. I thought Anderson was closer to a finish and probably landed more strikes on the feet.
Anderson’s got a heavy mouse under his right eye and both guys still throwing heavy shots as the first couple minutes is all standup. Awad starting to noticeably tire. Awad got a takedown at 2:45 but Anderson swept into top position and then took his back.
Anderson with a full body triangle and working for a rear naked choke at 3:45. Anderson controlled him for the rest of the round but couldn’t synch the choke. 10-9 Anderson, 20-18
ROUND 3 – Tito Ortiz was at ringside. Looked like he was having a great time. Jimmy Smith gave round 2 to Anderson as well. Awad has some bruising on his face as well to open the third.
First half of the round was on the feet and fairly even. Anderson slightly more active but Awad landing the harder shots. Anderson definitely the fresher fighter.
Awad stuffed on a takedown attempt at 4:00. He gets one at 4:15 but Anderson grabs his neck on the way down in a guillotine. Anderson with an armbar attempt after giving up the choke. Anderson sweeps into top position as the round ends. 10-9 Anderson, 30-27 overall
WINNER – DEREK ANDERSON (14-2) by unanimous decison (30-27, 29-28 x 2)
HOT TAKE – You can’t really call either guy a loser after that one. Anderson should definitely get a step up in competition after this, maybe a Josh Thomson.
Awad has fought at welterweight recently and should get another top name at either 155 or 170. Maybe a rematch with Patricky Pitbull or David Rickels, who both hold wins over him.
They announced for the first time on TV that Bobby Lashley’s next fight will be October 21st in Memphis at Bellator 162. That will be the co-main underneath the return of former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko vs TUF 3 champion Kendall Grove in what should be a big card for them.
Michael Chandler was interviewed cageside by Grande and Smith. He talked about how great it was to win the title in front of his hometown fans. He says he’s getting better, faster and stronger as he enters the prime of his career. Says that he’ll likely end up fighting both of the guys in the main event at some point and even called out Rory MacDonald, saying that he walks around at 192.
> BENSON HENDERSON (23-6) VS PATRICIO FREIRE (25-3)
Both guys get televised walkouts. Relatively generic although Benson’s “Awesome God” is one of the signature MMA walk-out songs and always great to hear.
Freire has never been finished but he’s also never faced anyone the size of Henderson. His three career losses have all come to current or former champions.
Henderson has lost 4 times at lightweight in the last 9 years. They were to Anthony Pettis twice, Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos. That’s a pretty elite lineup right there.
ROUND 1 – Michael Chandler joined the commentary team for this one. Big John is the ref. Henderson slipped about a minute in after Pitbull caught a kick and Pitbull let him right back up, so clearly he’s not interested in going to the ground.
Crowd starting to boo heavily 2:30 in as not much happing on the feet. Henderson in particular just keeping his distance and not throwing hardly any strikes. Pitbull is more active with kicks and punches while retreating.
4 minutes in and the booing is really amping up. Henderson has controlled the cage the whole round but he probably hasn’t landed 5 strikes. Henderson landed a couple of high kicks in the last 15 seconds. 10-9 Pitbull
Jimmy Smith called the first round for Pitbull as well, but Chandler has it for Henderson. Most people on my Twitter feed also have Pitbull up.
Pitbull with the first takedown attempt of the fight at 1:45. Henderson defends it and working for a Kimura but gives it up. Pitbull walks away from the exchange limping and motions to the ref that he was giving up.
WINNER – BENSON HENDERSON (24-6) by TKO (kick) at 2:26
HOT TAKE – Michael Chandler had to be loving that as this Benson Henderson wouldn’t have a chance against the champion. Henderson looked almost bored out there and I don’t even think he threw 10 punches. Pitbull looks to have suffered a twisted or broken ankle. No way to tell how it happened. He’s still a featherweight contender and could get Karakhanyan next.
They called it a TKO as a result of a kick from Henderson. They announced the title fight for November 19th in San Jose. Henderson gave a rambling, religious promo that went over like a lead balloon with the crowd. Jimmy Smith looked at him like he was a crazy man and then just asked about the fight.
Henderson said he knew that he had hurt Pitbull when he checked a couple of kicks. Says he never thought he’d win a fight that way but he’ll take a W any way he can get it. Chandler came into the cage for a staredown and it got next to no reaction.
Doctors were still working on Pitbull in the corner and Henderson went over to check on him as well and congratulate his team, which was a nice touch. On the replay it looks like Pitbull may have just planted his foot wrong after the sequence where Henderson was working for the submission.
This show was a mixed bag. The main event did nothing to get anyone interested in the Chandler-Henderson title fight. AJ McKee and Derek Anderson both looked good in the biggest fights of their careers but Bubba Jenkins took a serious step back.
The Anderson-Awad fight it worth checking out if you didn’t see it.