Triumphant return for Chandler

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:19 AM ET

RAMA, ONT. - Michael Chandler made quick work of Akihiro Gono in the main event of Bellator 67 at Casino Rama on Friday.

Chandler immediately moved forward, while Gono attempted to counter-strike. After a brief feeling-out process, Chandler dropped him with brutal straight right. A few more punches on the mat and it was academic.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do,” Chandler admitted. “By no means am I complete and I swear I’ll be the best lightweight in the world.”

The non-title bout was Chandler’s first since winning the lightweight championship from Eddie Alvarez in November. He now awaits the winner of this season’s 155-pound finale between Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman on May 25.

“Come and get it,” Chandler said. “Whoever wants it more is going to come for it. They are both great competitors and great guys inside and outside the cage.”

Bryan Baker punched his ticket to the welterweight- tournament finals, winning a unanimous decision over UFC veteran Ben Saunders in the co-main event.

The first round saw Saunders jump into guard on two separate occasions, where he threatened with a slew of submission attempts from the bottom, while Baker attacked with punches and hammerfists from the top.

The two opted to strike more in the second, as Baker connected with uppercuts from the clinch while Saunders landed a series of hard knees.

However, as the round came to a close, Baker took Saunders to the mat where he secured side control and delivered a series of punches. Baker completely dominated the third, slamming Saunders to the mat and unloading with ground-and-pound.

“Each fight, I’m building more and more,” Baker said. “It’s my second fight at welterweight.

“I’m always confident in my submission game. I’ve been in a lot of them and haven’t been tapped once.”

Baker will now meet the winner of the bout between Karl Amoussou and David Rickels.

Damian Grabowski won a plodding unanimous decision over Dave Huckaba.

It was clear from the start that Huckaba wanted to no part of the ground game, while Grabowski looked to avoid a striking battle.

Grabowski found success with his takedowns during the early going, but mounted little offence from inside Huckaba’s guard. As the bout progressed, the Polish heavyweight began to run out of gas, opening the door for Huckaba to work his stand-up.

But just when it looked like Huckaba was starting to take over, Grabowski managed to get the fight back to the canvas. Huckaba finally secured control of the bout in the third, but was too tired to deliver the knockout.

After three rounds, the judges all scored the bout 29-28 for Grabowski.

Edmonton welterweight Ryan (Real Deal) Ford scored a stunning comeback victory over tough veteran Luis Santos.

Ford’s Bellator debut got off to a rocky start, as he was sent to the mat early from a vicious high kick. The Brazilian went in for the kill, but Ford fought back with uppercuts from the clinch. Santos then unleashed two knees to the head and worked his ground-and-pound as the round ended.

Ford came out aggressive and focused in the second. After clinching up, he delivered two hard knees to Santos’ body before dropping him with a shot to the head. With his opponent rocked, Ford pounced with punches on the mat to secure the TKO victory, causing the fans to blow the roof off Rama.

“Man, I don’t even know what to say,” an emotional Ford said. “I’m just so damn excited. I want to thank all the fans for the support.

“The first round was the first, but it’s a three round fight and I finished it in the second.”

Cosmo Alexandre coasted to a dominant victory over Lorawnt-T Nelson in a stand-up battle. Nelson fought hard and showed a ton of heart, but was simply out-classed by the Blackzilian fighter.

Montreal’s Nordine Taleb put away Halifax’s Matt MacGrath with punches in the second round.

The opening bout saw Thunder Bay welterweight Nathan Gunn fall victim to a second-round armbar submission courtesy of American Dom O’Grady.

RESULTS

Michael Chandler def. Akihiro Gono via first-round TKO (punches)

Bryan Baker def. Ben Saunders via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Damian Grabowski def. Dave Huckaba via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Ryan Ford def. Luis Santos via second-round TKO (knees and punches)


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