Brent Primus and Chael Sonnen got exactly what they were looking for at Bellator 180 this past weekend at Madison Square Garden. For Primus, that was the Bellator lightweight title and for Sonnen, it was a victory and a little mic time. While these two Gracie Barra Portland teammates left Madison Square Garden with what they came for, oddly enough, it seems as if they are both returning home to Oregon at a bit of a deficit. While Primus won the lightweight title from Bellator mainstay Michael Chandler, his victory was marred by the actions of an incompetent official. For Sonnen, his vintage ground and pound based performance was not what the crowd wanted from a fight with a striker like Wanderlei Silva and Sonnen’s call out of Fedor just didn’t resonate with MMA fans.
Brent Primus shocked the MMA world when he walked out of the Bellator cage with the lightweight title strapped around his waist last Saturday. Few gave him a real shot at beating former champ Michael Chandler; odds makers had Primus as a +650 underdog. As the fight began, it didn’t take long for Primus to open up with strong leg kicks to keep Chandler at bay. Shortly after a firm kick to the calf of Chandler, the fight took a drastic turn, as Chandler was unable to put weight on his leg. Primus capitalized and landed a series of kicks that made the leg of the champion appear to fold. Just as it appeared Primus was about to deliver the finishing blows of the fight, something happened. Referee Todd Anderson stepped in and halted the action because the leg of Chandler was a concern. The problem? He didn’t call the fight off; he called a timeout. For those of you not in the know, there aren’t timeouts in MMA for sore legs, that rule does not exist. He then brought the doctor in to make the call on if the fight should continue. Thankfully, Primus was eventually awarded the TKO victory but instead of getting the finish on Chandler, he was forced to be a part of a controversial time out that led to the crowning of a new champ.
Since the fight, it has come out that Chandler’s injury was in fact caused by an early kick from Primus lending some validation to the fighting pride of Eugene.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped the onslaught of naysayers pushing Primus to defend his performance online when he should be doing nothing outside of celebrating with his friends and family. The mistake by Todd Anderson was the second glaring misstep for the New York judge and referee. He was also the referee who did not deduct any points for two very late punches in a UFC title fight earlier this year. Anderson has done exactly the opposite of what he is supposed to do. Instead of being a shadow in the cage, he has made his presence known by making a bold (and technically wrong) call in more than one instance now. The inevitable rematch between Primus and Chandler would do well to seek out a more experienced official.
Chael Sonnen showed up to New York with his back against the wall. In Sonnen’s promotional debut for Bellator MMA, he lost a fight many assumed he would win against Tito Ortiz. With this loss hanging over his head, he needed a win against his opponent, Wanderlei Silva, in the worst way. Much like his last fight, Sonnen was the odds-on favorite to win on Saturday night. The fight went just about perfect for the gangster from West Linn. He took his opponent down with ease and dominated nearly the entirety of the fight with the exception of one strong punch landed by Silva. After the fight, Sonnen did what he does best and cut a promo that was clearly designed to draw some heat from the New York crowd. After declaring that he hated New York, Sonnen called out the once great Fedor Emelianenko. The only problem was Fedor had fought earlier in the night and suffered a devastating loss. For the crowd who remained in attendance, this call out fell a little flat.
On paper, Sonnen did everything right Saturday night but unfortunately, he would end up a victim of circumstance. While he fought a very dominant fight against Silva, the crowd was clearly growing tired of the ground and pound attack of Sonnen. It was reported that many fans began to exit the arena prior to the end of the bout. For fans of vintage ground and pound however, this fight was top notch but unfortunately that made little difference in the arena. Boos from the crowd forced at couple of stand ups and even when Sonnen was searching for submissions while throwing knees to the body, it was never enough for the crowd at Madison Square Garden. Add to that a call out of Fedor that was more than likely written out and memorized prior to the fight and you have taken what should be a great win from Chael Sonnen and turned it into an average performance that puts him back at square one. After the fight, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com interviewed Sonnen, who then mentioned he and Rory MacDonald have some unfinished business and may fight in the future. This fight makes very little sense divisionally or in terms of the title picture, but it creates interest and after last weekend it would seem Sonnen is need of all the interest he can get.