It’s not often we get two fight of the year caliber fights on the same night, however, that is exactly what happened this past Saturday. Bellator had Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez and the UFC gave us Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Shortly after Michael Chandler had made Bellator’s lightweight champion tap out via RNC (if you don’t know what it stands for look it up), twitter started going crazy. People were calling it “fight of the year” and others were giving each other virtual “high fives” for “calling” the Chandler upset.
Fast forward three or four hours later and twitter was going crazy once again over the Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua war. THIS was now our “Fight of the Year”.
Watching it live I was amazed at the will each man displayed. The 41yr old Dan Henderson tagging Rua and being on the verge of victory and then Rua coming right back and popping Henderson and finding himself on the cusp of being declared the winner. This went on for four rounds.
Think about it, for twenty minutes these guys threw everything they had and then found themselves having to give even more just to hang on and not accept defeat. The exhaustion from both men was clearly visible and for anyone who’s ever rolled or gone three rounds in any combat sport, should know how taxing it is to keep up a frenetic pace.
Yet here they were giving us all they had and more. The fifth round wasn’t nearly as exciting as the previous four but you can’t blame them. The mere fact they went the full 25 minutes when the only thing on the line was pride, it can certainly be forgiven.
The next morning Bellator posted the fight between Chandler and Alvarez in its entirety and as I was watching I immediately comparing each round to the Henderson/Rua fight.
The first round was exciting. We had Chandler, the underdog, rocking Eddie Alvarez and nearly getting the knockout win in the first round. Alvarez has made it a habit of getting tagged in each of his fights and for the most part has managed to come back and get stronger as the fight goes on. Not tonight. Alvarez went on to win the second round (at least on my card) but it wasn’t the most thrilling round. The third round picked up where the first left off, however this time it was Alvarez nearly finishing the challenger. Alvarez seemed to have found his range and was peppering away at Chandler who was now a bloody mess and looking exhausted. They would go on to reverse roles once again except this time Chandler was able to get Eddie down, take his back, and then sink in the choke.
A very fun fight but better than Henderson and Rua? Not in my opinion.
Henderson vs. Rua didn’t give me a chance to blink, it had me on the edge of my seat, and I was biting all ten of my fingernails side to side as if it were an old school typewriter.
I witnessed something in that fight that I just didn’t see in Bellator’s main event. I saw two men breathing heavy, tank on empty, and refusing to lose. It’s very rare when a guy can get a loss on his record and still not really lose; Rua did that.
Not taking anything away from Chandler and Alvarez who gave us a very entertaining fight, it just doesn’t hold up to Dan Henderson and Shogun.
As far as either one of them being “FOY”? They certainly make my top ten, but the war that took place at the start of the year between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard still holds up in my book.
As always, Stay Focused and support the Sport.