Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

No Holds Barred: Bellator Debut on Spike January 17 Preview with Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio Pitbull, Babalu, Bjorn Rebney 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Bellator MMA fighters Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio Pitbull, and Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.

The highly-anticipated debut of Bellator MMA on Spike TV will take place this Thursday, January 17, on a card at the University of California’s Bren Center in Irvine, California. It will be broadcast live in the U.S. on Spike TV and in the Spanish language on mun2.

Bellator returns with a bang by featuring two title fights on this first card of 2013. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will defend his belt against challenger and former U.S. judo Olympian Rick Hawn. Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran will face Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. This card will also feature the start of the Bellator season eight light heavyweight tournament, including an opening round bout between grappling and MMA veteran Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Russian MMA fighter and former combat sambo champion Mikhail Zayats.

On a series of recent Bellator media conference calls, we had a chance to speak with Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pat Curran, Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and Bjorn Rebney. We discussed with the fighters what to expect in these important title and tournament fights, and with Bjorn Rebney the plans for upcoming tournaments.

In these interviews, former Missouri wrestling All-American Michael Chandler called it "an honor" to fight an Olympian and an "awesome" opponent like Rick Hawn, while Rick Hawn noted that this fight "has the potential to live up to the Alvarez-Chandler fight", the four-round war in November 2011 where Chandler captured the Bellator lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez. Both fighters come from different grappling backgrounds, but have added effective striking to their arsenals to sustain them at this level of competition.

Pat Curran described his transformation from being a wrestler who fought MMA into a fighter who has become more confident as a striker. "I love striking. I love everything about it. I love learning new moves, new techniques." Patricio "Pitbull" Freire stated that his opponent is an "all-around" fighter and "complete in all areas". We shall see how much striking and grappling will take place in this fight, but both fighters can win on their feet or on the ground.

With their compelling title fights, championship tournament format, and the best TV deal they've ever had, Bellator MMA, which began in 2009, is now in a position to make a major and lasting impact on the MMA world. Their January 17 debut card on Spike is one of the strongest MMA shows which will ever be shown on free TV in the U.S., so make sure to watch it.

Plus, we briefly comment on the Eddie Alvarez contract situation and its coverage in the media.

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