Commentary

New titlists, challenges for Bellator

Originally Published: November 4, 2013
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Two marketable, successful, sought-after Bellator champions went down to defeat Saturday night in Long Beach, Calif.

Was this the Bellatorapocalypse?

You'd figure alarm bells went off in Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney's head when the unflappable and generally predictable Daniel Straus dominated Pat Curran to the tune of a unanimous decision title-fight win. Curran had spearheaded Bellator at 145, which is a tremendous talent-filled weight class around the world and outside the UFC, and he was just getting into his groove as champ.

As for what was going on inside Rebney's shaved noggin when Alvarez bested Michael Chandler on points and he placed the belt around the two-time champion's slim waist? That's an unknown -- although many people are speculating based on the promoter's facial expression and demeanor in the cage that he wasn't so pleased.

Analyzing body language is a fine pastime for the people who want to engage in it. I don't. Rebney was nothing if not effusive in his praise of Alvarez after the fight. Maybe he didn't have a choice, but he absolutely did nothing to diminish Alvarez's win.

He also spoke highly of Straus.

No surprise, as well, that the promoter continued to hold Curran and Chandler in the highest esteem. How could he not after repeatedly labeling them as the best fighters his promotion could produce?

Rebney loved to say he thought Curran was No. 2 behind Jose Aldo, and that if they met it wouldn't be so simple for the UFC champion.

Chandler was also the best lightweight in MMA in Rebney's world.

Yes? No? Maybe so?

Right now, the answer isn't a mystery.

Where Curran and Chandler go from here is up to them. Both are gifted athletes. Curran appeared to have an off night against Straus. He said as much on Twitter while taking full responsibility for his failure to deliver against the soft-spoken new champion, who did everything right to win and earn the belt.

Chandler and Alvarez are so competitively well matched that they could fight 100 times and each bout would produce down-to-the-wire brawls.

Of this I'm sure.

Alvarez's status is tenuous, which makes his situation extremely intriguing. And Straus appears not to be the kind of fighter who will all of a sudden sell tickets and bump up TV ratings.

Time, as it tends to do, will tell. But there's no doubt that Bellator would have been better off if the champions had retained their titles over the weekend.

They didn't. That's sports. And the Bellator MMA crew must get used to the notion that once the cage door closes, all bets are off.

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