We, as human beings love violence.
There is just something about watching two guys, and now women in some cases, get into a cage and go at it.
However, there is more to the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) than just fighting.
Like any sport, it takes talent and mental toughness.
On Friday, June 19, Bellator 138 aired live on Spike TV from Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The main event was Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock.
The fight was being billed as “Unfinished Buisness”, as it was 7 years in the making.
While some viewed the fight as more of a circus, the other fights on the card were worth watching, as there was a strong Midwest presence on the card.
Pacific’s own, Justin Lawrence returned home for the first time in 5 years, in what would be his first fight under Bellator.
Lawrence delivered quite a show for the fans, who gave him a raucous ovation.
Lawrence defeated Sean Wilson by TKO in a featherweight bout. Lawrence improved to 8-2 and looks to be on his way to breaking into the Bellator main card.
Former Mizzou All-American, Michael Chandler, returned home, as he hails from High Ridge, Mo. Chandler opened the main card on Spike TV by defeating Derek Compos by choking him out.
The crowd chanted MIZ-ZOU throughout the fight.
Bobby Lashley, who attended Missouri Valley College, easily won his heavyweight fight against Dan Charles, by tossing him around like a ragdoll.
The fight of the night belonged to featherweight champ, Patricio Pitbull and challenger, Daniel Weichel.
Weichel appeared to have Pitbull knocked out as the bell rang at the end of the first round, however, the ref did not step in until after the bell.
The fight would continue into the second round.
Pitbull needed just one punch in the second round, as he knocked out Weichel, to retain his belt. It was a stunning turn of events.
The main event featured Shamrock vs Slice.
Shamrock was led to the cage by his family and Animal, former WWF Wrestler of Legion of Doom.
Slice walked to the cage by himself.
As the fight started, Shamrock appeared to have Slice in a choke hold. The arena was waiting for Slice to tap, but he did not.
Instead, Slice broke the hold, got up and pummeled Shamrock with a flurry of punches. The fight was stopped, just over 2 minutes in, as Slice won.
Overall, it was quite a fun evening, as many of Bellator’s other fighters were run to speak with. Tito Ortiz was in attendance, as was Granite City’s own, Matt Hughes.
Many St. Louis Rams players were seen in the crowd as well.
Former WWE wrestler, MVP, was also in the crowd.
Bellator President, Scott Coker, said the promotion would be returning to St. Louis, as it was a great crowd for the event.
By Juan Ramos
Michael Chandler (12-3) has always embraced competition.
The former Bellator light heavyweight champion began his wrestling career at Northwest High School.
The High Ridge native and former Mizzou All-American said MMA seemed like a more attractive route than wrestling internationally.
“MMA would be a better avenue than wrestling internationally,” Chandler said. “It was a change, so I figured I would try it. I haven’t looked back since.”
Chandler’s MMA career skyrocketed, as he won his first 12 pro MMA bouts.
However, Chandler suffered a split-decision loss to Eddie Alverez in 2013, losing his title.
Chandler dropped a second split decision, to Will Brooks, in a fight for the interim belt.
In November 2014, Chandler lost his rematch to Brooks by TKO.
The 28-year-old is looking to end his skid at Bellator 138, Friday, June 19, at Scottrade Center.
Chandler will face Derek Campos (15-4) in a co-headliner slot, which will air live on Spike TV.
A four-time NCAA qualifier at Mizzou, Chandler’s last wrestling match of his career was in St. Louis during the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Chandler defeated Matt Moley of Bloomsburg in the fifth-place match.
In Chandler’s eyes, his wrestling background gives him a big advantage over his opponents.
“It’s very massive,” he said. “Aside from the physical aspect that I can pick guys up and put them down, I learned a lot from wrestling. The mental aspect of what wrestling has taught me and, more important, what wrestling at a Division I program like Mizzou has really made me the man I am today and the competitor I am today. It’s helped me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe.”
The former Mizzou wrestling standout said defeating his opponent will be no easy task.
“He’s a tough guy,” Chandler said. “He’s got good cardio. He’s always in fast-paced fights and so am I. I think I’m better on my feet and on the ground, in the wrestling department. I fully intend to go out there and put on a dominant performance.”
Before his three losses, Chandler was widely viewed as the face of Bellator, but after three losses and a change in leadership with the promotion, some feel he has lost his top spot.
“I think I’m one or two fights away from getting another title shot,” he said. “When I win that title, I will still be the face of Bellator. It’s great to be part of that. I’m just looking forward to getting this train rolling. It all starts June 19.”
Being a wrestler by trade, it may be easy to assume Chandler prefers taking a fight to the ground, however, he has no preference.
“I have finished fights standing and finished fights on the ground,” he said. “Both are great ways to finish fights, as long as you do it in a dominant fashion. So, I think it’s a tie. Obviously the fans love a knockout more.”
The light-heavyweight division in Bellator features some strong competition from the likes of current champion Brooks, but Chandler still feels he is one of the top dogs.
“I think I’m one of the elite guys,” Chandler said. “It’s not to brag, but I’ve put a lot of dedication into this. I’ve put my heart and soul into this sport. I think I train harder than anybody else and have made sacrifices that other people won’t make. I’m more disciplined than so many other guys. I feel like I deserve to be the best.”
Once again, Chandler pointed to his wrestling background as a tool that has enabled him to be more successful than other fighters.
“I have that drive to constantly improve and get better,” he said. “With that attitude you should have no other choice than to be successful and be elite. That comes from my wrestling background at Mizzou.”
While at Mizzou, Chandler was known for putting on strong performances in front of hometown crowds. While some fighters may get nervous fighting in front of a home crowd or on television, Chandler doesn’t let it affect him.
“I think you got to separate yourself from all that other stuff,” he said. “You have to realize that a fight is still a fight against another man, your same size. The cage door is going to close and you’re going to go into competition-mode to try to win the contest.”
This fight has been seven years in the making.
Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock will finally square off Friday, June 19 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“This is a fight that should have happened many years ago,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “I know that it’s a fight that’s been under everybody’s skin for several years.”
Shamrock and Slice were scheduled to fight in 2008, but just days before the fight, Shamrock suffered a cut during training and was forced to withdraw.
“I’m not even going to comment on that,” Slice said. “I just hope he fights. I hope he don’t pussy out. You do stuff like that when you’re scared.”
Shamrock, 51, said training for this fight was the most difficult thing he’s ever had to endure.
“I’ve always trained hard and been in pretty good shape,” Shamrock said. “This was the toughest and most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my career. I’ve been tested more than I’ve ever been tested training for a fight. Any athlete who has ever been in this position is either made or broken in the training.”
The American Kid will return home to the St. Louis area.
Pacific’s Justin Lawrence will be returning to St. Louis Friday, June 19 as part of the Bellator 138 card that will take place at the Scottrade Center at 8 p.m.
Lawrence’s fight against Sean Wilson will be the main fight on the preliminary card.
Lawrence has not fought in the area in nearly five years.
“It’s been since 2010 when I fought under the Strikeforce promotion when I was 20 years old,” Lawrence said. “It’s a good feeling to come back home and give a lot of my fans a great fight, and have the opportunity to go out there and showcase my skills. Doing what I love in front of my hometown is awesome. I can’t wait.”
Lawrence’s family will also be in attendance.
With all the drama surrounding the Cardinals and the flurry of activity before the trade deadline, people have a tendency to overlook the River City Rascals. I’ll admit, I pretty much did the same thing while I was coaching this summer. Imagine my surprise when I checked the standings last week and the Rascals weren’t only in first place, they were decimating the competition.
Remembering the good times we had last year cheering on the Rascals (as well as the terror we inflicted on the beer vendors in the right field corner), my friends and I made plans to go to the game last night, and then they promptly bailed. Womp, womp. Unfazed, I marched on. Given the recent heat wave and the fact that some up-and-coming country musician named Kenneth Arnold Chesney was playing last night, I was somewhat worried I might be the only person in the stands. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised, as the Rascals have built a fanbase who follow them quite intently.
If you haven’t been to a Rascals game and are a baseball fan, I highly suggest you come out to T.R. Hughes Ballpark sometime soon. The ballpark is about what you’d expect from a minor-league ballpark: cozy, ad-laden walls in the outfield, and not a bad seat in the house. Tickets run from $5-11 for the regular seats, and if you pre-order, they knock a dollar off the price. For you high-rollers, there is a patio in the right-field corner called the Dog Pound Patio that’s all-inclusive for $25.
The games are played at a brisk pace (the game was over before 9:45), and the level of baseball is probably on par with low-A minor league ball. Most of these guys won’t come close to the majors, but they’re not exactly the guys you see in Sunday afternoon beer leagues, either. They typically have a legitimate baseball pedigree. Stephen Holdren, the Rascals’ best hitter, played college ball at Texas A & M; Jareck West was a 25th-round draft pick of Oakland; Chris McClendon was a starter at Kentucky; Jason Patton played at Kent State and was drafted by Tampa Bay; Chad Maddox played at Tennessee; and so on.
Neither team could get much of anything going until the bottom of the third. An error by Florence shortstop Junior Arroyo (his second of the game) let Danny Sawyer reach, and he later scored on a single through the gap into right by Patton. An inning later, Maddox lined a two-run home run over the right-center wall, and Holdren shot a towering two-run blast into center field in the fifth for his 16th home run of the season to conclude the Rascals’ scoring.
On the flip side, pitcher Wayde Kitchens surrendered a couple early hits but settled down and was filthy the rest of the way. He kept the ball low and his off-speed stuff kept Florence’s hitters off-balance. He cruised until the eighth inning when an error by third baseman Matt Serna led to an unearned run. Dustin Umberger surrendered three runs in the ninth, but closer Derrick Miramontes came in and earned his eleventh save of the season.
With the win, the Rascals improved to an astounding 45-16, a full eight games ahead of second-place Southern Illinois. Despite some occasional sloppy play, it was a pretty fun game to watch. Miramontes, a side-armer, has some nasty breaking pitches, and his 1.25 ERA and 44 K in 36 innings shows hitters aren’t getting an easy read on him. I mentioned Holdren last year as being one of the better players on the team, and he’s still pacing them Rascals this year, hitting .316 with 16 HR and 55 RBI. Patton is a solid hitter (.325, 6 HR, 34 RBI) and unleashed a couple of absolute lasers from deep right field.
Note: if you do plan on attending, you might want to bring some bug spray. Fortunately, I had some in my softball bag in my trunk, so I was largely unaffected. I noted with some humor that the people around me were swatting at bugs all night, then I remembered the only things keeping me company were the empty beer cups next to me (home games on Thursday nights feature dollar 10oz. beers until the end of the fifth inning [note, the end of the fifth; after that, prices go back up to their normal levels]), which, when I think about it, really isn’t all that dissimilar from every other night.
The Rascals have another full month of regular season baseball and, barring a complete collapse, should play into September with hopes of repeating as the Frontier League champions. The stands aren’t super packed right now, so if you’re looking for something to do and want to spend less than you would on a movie, make the trek out to T.R. Hughes. If you see a lonely Asian guy sitting in the right field bleachers, feel free to say hi.