Though people will likely remember the instant-classic between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson at UFC 139 based on the history surrounding each man and the organization’s enormous profile, Bellator 58 delivered an equally entertaining effort from former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and the belt’s new owner Michael Chandler. To bear witness to a single “Fight of the Year” candidate, let alone one involving a pair of legends or a promotional title, would have been special in itself; to get two in a four-hour span was downright mind-boggling.
Were there any doubt about how amazing either was it might be one thing but the consensus feeling around the MMA community is one of amazement including the opinions of both company’s heads, as Dana White referred to Henderson/Rua as being the equivalent in delivery to Muhammed Ali vs. Joe Frazier III and one of the three greatest fights in UFC history, while Bjorn Rebney labeled Alvarez/Chandler as the best bout he’s ever seen live out of more than a thousand pairings dating back twenty years.
With both match-ups featuring back-and-forth action including situations where each competitor found himself in severe trouble at some point in the match-up, as well as near finishes and impressive comebacks, it’s hard to find many flaws with either offering aside from perhaps questionable cardio. However, when considering the energy used and damage absorbed, it’s hard to fault any of the involved parties for being a bit sluggish down the road in comparison to their fitness during a regular clash. Simply put, the quartet fought their hearts out for the fans rather than set a leisurely pace for selfish reasons.
Alvarez vs. Chandler and Rua vs. Henderson were prime examples of why MMA is such an incredible sport and bouts by which all other “Fight of the Year” candidates should be measured. The athleticism, fearlessness, tenacity, and stakes involved created a pair of perfect storms resulting in an evening that should be long remembered…well, at least until the next time you settle in to watch an event. After all, keeping their quality at the forefront of one’s mind might make it impossible to enjoy another encounter after the fights set such an incredibly high standard.
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