Michael Chandler, one of the longtime faces of Bellator MMA, is a lightweight champion again.
Chandler (19-4) became the first three-time champion in Bellator history on Friday, defeating Brent Primus (8-1) via unanimous decision at Bellator 212 in Honolulu. Chandler won back his 155-pound title, which he surrendered to Primus in a TKO defeat in June 2017.
Chandler, 32, of High Ridge, Missouri, survived a knockdown in the second round and fought off a rear-naked choke that nearly ended the bout. But beyond that one-minute sequence, it was a relatively dominant showcase.
All three judges scored it a sweep: 50-45 in favor of Chandler.
"That was an awesome performance by Brent Primus," Chandler said. "That guy came in here ready to defend the belt. He is who he says he is. He made me earn every single moment of that fight."
It turned into a wrestling-heavy game plan for Chandler, especially after the second round. Although Primus failed to win a round, he did well when the fight was standing. He targeted Chandler's lead leg with low kicks and caught him with counter jabs coming in.
But Primus, a native of Portland, Oregon, simply had no answer for Chandler's wrestling and spent most of his time on the bottom in closed guard, waiting for the round to end. His right forehead began to swell badly in the third round, and he surrendered takedowns very early in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Chandler won his first Bellator title in 2011, against Eddie Alvarez. He lost it back to Alvarez two years later before reclaiming it in 2016. Chandler nearly tested free agency earlier this year, but ultimately signed a multifight contract extension with Bellator in August.
Ayala scores comeback win after Mir taps
Mir, 39, tapped out to strikes at 4:30 of the second round, as he was clinched up with Ayala along the fence. Mir suffered a cut over his left eye during the round and also appeared to signal some sort of mouth injury. Before tapping out, Mir lost his mouthpiece during an exchange with Ayala.
Mir is now 0-2 since signing with Bellator earlier this year. He did not fight at all in 2017 because of a failed drug test the year before. He suffered a first-round knockout loss to Fedor Emelianenko eight months ago in Bellator's Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
Ayala managed to survive several dangerous positions in the first round before taking control. He found himself on the wrong end of a kimura attempt early by Mir but managed to escape the submission and work back to his feet.
Ayala snapped a two-fight skid with the victory.
McKee stays perfect in first-round finish
McKee, 23, has fought his entire career in the Bellator cage, and his 13-fight winning streak is the longest in the promotion's history. The Southern California-based fighter called for a title shot against Patricio Freire following Friday's performance.
"I've been calling for that belt since I stepped foot in this cage, since the day I went pro," McKee said. "As long as I got Bellator nation behind me, we can conquer the world."
McKee went for the takedown early and slammed Crawford to the mat about two minutes in. As Crawford tried to work back to his feet, McKee caught him in a front headlock and secured the choke moments later. It is his fourth win by submission and seventh finish inside the first round.