Bellator 243 “Chandler vs. Henderson 2” took place Friday, August 7, 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. After several attempts (and injuries) prevented this long awaited rematch from taking place, even the coronavirus pandemic could not stop another fight between Michael Chandler (20-5) and Benson Henderson (28-8) from going down.
Henderson promised in the media day Q&A that he’d get off to a fast start this time. He looked good in the stand up exchanges, landing one-two combos and hard body kicks, but Chandler destroyed him with one hard left hand for the sudden ending at 2:09 of the first round.
As you might expect the “Big” John McCarthy interview followed.
“Listen man when you train at Sanford MMA with the best coaches, best training partners in the world, you can do anything. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. He’s a champion inside and outside of the cage. My ribs hurt right now, foot hurts, leg hurts. Benson Henderson doesn’t have a ton of finishes, but he throws hard, he’s got some big legs, big feet. I can’t wait to be home. It’s been 12 weeks so I’m excited to go home. It’s all in God’s hands. God has opened and closed doors at the right time. If this is the last time I step in the Bellator cage, to everybody here, you have no idea the impact you’ve made on my life. We’ll see what happens. Every single Lightweight on the clock, you’re on notice. Scott Coker, you’re on the clock. Let’s get it done.”
Also on this card was a Heavyweight tilt between two fighters with prior UFC experience — Matt Mitrione (13-7) and Timothy Johnson (13-6).
Things went South for Mitrione quickly as an inadvertent headbutt to the chin knocked him down and Johnson was immediately on top of him in side control.
Johnson poured on heavy left hands until Mitrione gave up his back, then Johnson really started to jack him up with rights. Mitrione tried to get back to his knees but he wasn’t able to improve his position and Mike Beltran waved it off at 3:14, awarding Johnson the win by technical knockout. He spoke to “Big” John McCarthy next.
“The coaches were asking me what happened in there. We got tied up and he fell. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good. I watched his fight with Bader, thought there were a lot of times he was just hanging on, thought there was an alley to catch Mitrione with an uppercut. I saw an opening and I gave it a try. He was coming up to the referee’s position, hit him with a couple of those and he turned, kept hitting him with those. I was not going to let it slip out of my hands.”
A Lightweight divisional ranking bout was on tap as Myles Jury (18-5) looked to make it two in a round against formidable submission specialist Georgi Karakhanyan (29-10-1, 1 NC).
On the feet you’d expect Jury to have the striking advantage, so Karakhanyan did his best to negate that by connecting with overhand rights and then shooting to put Jury against the cage, where he let his knees and dirty boxing do the work. Jury landed a few good shots that drew a trickle of blood but when it comes to “cage control” Karakhanyan was the one leading the dance in the opening round. The only difference in the second round was that Karakhanyan actually got the takedown, adding to his overall control of the fight. The single leg that he missed just led to an overhand right that clocked Jury cleanly.
Bellator’s commentators saw it as one round apiece, and perhaps Jury did enough damage at close quarters to argue round two, but the third round was clearly his best of the fight. After deciding the stand-up exchanges weren’t going his way Karakhanyan jumped guard for a guillotine choke, but Jury popped his head free and then had two minutes on top to pour on ground and pound. Karakhanyan got back up with 13 seconds left but that wasn’t enough to win him the round.
The judges would have to decide the winner overall and almost failed to do so, managing a 30-27 each direction until a 29-28 decided it for Jury via split decision. No post-fight interview followed.
Two men competing at a catch weight of 175 lbs. were looking to score big in the cage as Curtis Millender (18-5) faced the hard hitting Sabah Homasi (13-8).
Homasi was animated before the fight even began, getting in Millender’s face before the opening bell, and he was chasing the power right hand throughout round one. He was only able to land it effectively once but a takedown put him on top for the last two minutes of the opening frame.
The fight turned into a war of attrition as Homasi went repeatedly for takedowns in Round 2. Millender was able to stave him off for a little bit but ultimately succumbed when Homasi pushed him into the cage and dropped to his knees to secure his effort. Millender had a momentary escape when Homasi tried to take his back, but Homasi escaped a D’Arce attempt and got another takedown with 25 seconds left to win the second round.
Homasi dumped out most of his gas tank with those takedowns and Millender knew it. He eagerly chased his opponent around the cage throwing jabs and uppercuts, and Homasi went for clinches and takedowns defensively instead of offensively. Millender bucked him off and got back to the feet, Homasi got another takedown and went for the back, but he overplayed his hand with an armbar attempt that just let Millender back on top to do more damage at the end of the round. The judges would have to sort this one out and they all agreed — 29-28 X3 for “The Sleek Sheik” Sabah Homasi. No post-fight interview followed.
For complete Bellator 243 results and coverage click here.