Bellator 145 gave us many great moments and insights into the future of whats to come next year in 2016 in Bellator across multiple divisions. as we evaluate each winner on the main card and their performance, we also look ahead at who their potential opponent should and might be.
Bobby Lashley vs. Cheick Kongo
The former pro-wrestling star came into this fight riding a comfy six-fight winning streak, which was quickly extended to seven as he dispatched quickly against James Thompson via TKO in the first round after dragging the British heavyweight to the mat and unleashing an onslaught of strikes. The win comes as a favored one to Lashley as Thompson is responsible for one of the two losses on Lashley’s record. Now 4-0 under the Bellator banner and riding a wave of momentum unlike any other Bellator heavyweight, it is now time for Lashley to finally face what actual tests the Bellator heavyweight division has to offer. Enter Cheick Kongo. Kongo is coming off a well-earned unanimous decision victory against the former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov. With both men seemingly ready to start the legitimate climb towards the heavyweight crown, I can think of no better way than to pit each gargantuan against the other and see who will be one step closer to facing the undefeated champion Vitaly Minakov.
Michael Chandler vs. Dave Jansen
Chandler returned to the Bellator cage in phenomenal fashion, bringing us the Michael Chandler of old in his dominating victory over one of Bellator’s most experienced lightweights in David Rickles, a man who holds the most fights in the promotion at 155 lbs. Chandler returned to his roots in this fight, bringing his expert wrestling into the fray which lead to bloody and gruesome TKO in the second round. Chandler now finds himself two fights removed from the three fight losing streak that threatened his position amongst the elite of Bellator’s lightweight division, both of them being finishes. Chandler has made it known now that he is on the hunt now for a rubber match with current champion Will Brooks, who has bested him on two separate occasions. Chandler needs to fight the elite that his division can offer in order to merit a fight with a man who has defeated him twice. Dave Jansen certainly fits that mold as he gave Brooks one of the toughest fights of his current reign. A bout between the two could legitimize either man as an immediate rising contender in the lightweight ranks and give us a glimpse of who may one day face Brooks once more.
Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Goiti Yamauchi
Sanchez took this bout with the up and coming Justin Lawrence on just about three weeks notice, and didn’t disappoint in the least. “El Matador” arrived ready and gave the young Lawrence one of his toughest fights to date. The fight highlighted the growth in both fighters as neither man was willing to give up momentum over the course of 15 minutes. Sanchez however was willing to commit to more action in each round which, in the end, merited him the awarded judges victory. Sanchez now finds himself on the right path to glory amongst the best in red-hot featherweight division. However, he also owes it to himself to allow for progress as he is still a young competitor who has a bright future should he continue to find success in the cage. Although, if Sanchez was looking to make a serious case without the latter, a bout with the fellow rising star Goiti Yamauchi, makes the most sense. Yamauchi has made a serious case as of late for his own run at the title if he continues to remain dominant as he has in his last three fights. A bout between both men promises some amazing fireworks as well, as it’ll also be the fans that win with a matchup like this in the future.
Will Brooks vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire
The current and defending Bellator Lightweight champion continues to shine and impress as he racked up another title defense against a very game opponent in Marcin Held. Despite the challengers expert grappling skills, Brooks maintained composure and continued to stay offensive in nearly all aspects of the fight, allowing him to disrupt the tenacious attacks coming from the European submission artist. With another win in the bag, it’s time Will Brooks take a different turn in his career as champion. Brooks remains concerned that the promotion and media don’t pay him too much attention. However, in the week leading up to the fight, one of the biggest stories that broke out was that of an alleged altercation that took place between Brooks and the Friere brothers. Both sides remain adamant that the other was the initial cause of the incident and fortunately nobody was seriously harmed, but the story remains quite intriguing nonetheless. Now while the main rivalry started out between Brooks and the younger “Pitbull” brother Patricio, Patricky has now been added into the equation due to this supposed altercation and all the speculation that came with it. Also an interesting note, Patricky most recently defeated Saad Awad, the only man who holds a victory over the champion. With no immediate contender next in line to face Brooks, as the division works to settle a new contender, Patricky and Brooks have now created the intrigue for a potential bad blood matchup that the fans are sure to eat up as the animosity between the two men sure doesn’t seem fake, and could generate the viewership that Will Brooks has been begging for for quite some time.
Daniel Straus vs. Daniel Weichel/Georgi Karakhanyan winner
Plain and simple, Straus delivered in one of his most amazing performances of his career. In a title bout that not only highlighted his still ever-improving style, it also highlighted Straus’ ability to correct errors. Straus succeeded in the best way imaginable, with heart and a more knowledgable mind. Straus didn’t allow himself to make mistakes that, in the past, had cost him. Straus also continued to show off his amazingly enhanced striking that set the pace for a fight across five rounds that the now former champion, Patricio Freire, just couldn’t compete at. Straus now holds the featherweight title for a second time and will most likely look to hold on to it a lot longer this time around. Straus now has time to relax however as he no longer has to worry about asking for fights or callouts, at least not from his end anyways. Later on in the year, Daniel Weichel, who nearly captured the title from Friere himself earlier this year will take on Georgi Karakhanyan who was slated to fight for the title not so long ago, before an injury sidelined him. Straus remains one of the most underappreciated fighters around and it’ll be a marvel to see what will become of the new Bellator featherweight champion.