Freire stops Chandler early to take Bellator belt

In a wild finish Saturday night, Bellator featherweight champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire defended his family's name with a first-round stoppage of Michael Chandler, stealing his lightweight title along the way after moving up in weight.

Freire dropped Chandler with a hard right hand before following it up with numerous punches before the referee stepped in to protect Chandler, who appeared alert when the fight was stopped at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

But should Chandler have been allowed to continue? The defending champion was still active when the fight was stopped.

"I had my wits about me," Chandler said afterward.

It was a controversial finish in a serious rivalry.

The bad blood between the two dates to 2011, when Chandler defeated Patricky Freire, Patricio's older brother, in Bellator's lightweight tournament final via unanimous decision. Chandler, who said multiple times before Saturday's fight that he would "own" the Freire brothers, then won his second fight over Patricky Freire with a vicious knockout to win the vacant lightweight title in 2016.

Yet the narrative from Saturday's highly anticipated bout will center on the way it ended, not family drama.

"Everybody saw him go to sleep," Freire said. "I did what I had to do. I came in and did my job."

But the first part of that response remains in question.

Chandler was alert, still fighting and trying to get on his feet when the bout ended. He took five unanswered punches on the ground, however, prior to the stoppage.

Freire said he didn't care if anyone doubted him.

"I am the champ now!" Freire said.

Brothers battling common opponents in combat sports isn't new. Michael Spinks beat Larry Holmes twice in the 1980s to win and defend the heavyweight belt in boxing four years after Holmes defeated his brother, Leon Spinks, via knockout. Vitali Klitschko knocked out Corrie Sanders a year after Sanders had pulled off a shocking KO of his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, in 2003. And MMA legend Tito Ortiz has three wins over Ken Shamrock but one submission loss to his brother, Frank Shamrock.

With Saturday's victory, Freire is now the champion in two Bellator divisions.

Lima finishes Michael Page with spectacular KO

If we know one thing about Michael "Venom" Page, it's that he's not shy about telling anyone who will listen how great he is. But minutes after he danced to the cage, former welterweight champ Douglas Lima pulled off the upset and knocked Page out, advancing to the Bellator welterweight grand prix tournament final.

The spectacular finish came in the second round after Lima dropped Page with a leg kick and landed a hard right hook as Page tried to rise to his feet. Lima put the icing on the cake with a few hammerfists, but Page was already unconscious.

Page's loose and bouncy style helped him amass a 14-0 record entering the fight. He's a big, unorthodox kickboxer who fights at range. He throws hard kicks, and anyone bold enough to close the distance against him risks taking severe punishment.

But after landing a one-two combo against Lima on Saturday, Page entered attack mode. Lima, a veteran of the sport who fought for the first time as a professional in 2006, took advantage of his stalking opponent. It was a beautiful sequence.

Lima will fight the winner of Rory MacDonald's matchup against Neiman Gracie in the grand prix semifinal at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 14.

"I'm here, I'm ready for them," Lima said after his win.

McKee continues rise with decision win over Curran

A.J. McKee maintained his perfect record with a unanimous-decision win over Pat Curran, the former featherweight champion.

Two judges scored the fight 30-27, while the other had it 30-26 for McKee.

It wasn't a pretty fight. Fans booed some of the sloppy action. But McKee controlled the distance, stayed busy and continued to attack. Even when Curran took him down in the second round, McKee threw hard elbows from the ground and bloodied his opponent.

The undefeated 24-year-old looks like the future of the Bellator promotion. He has the pedigree (his father and coach, Antonio McKee, retired from mixed martial arts in 2014), the style and the confidence to evolve into a superstar.

"I ain't taking no Ls in this cage, so anybody who wants to come get it, come get it," he said after the fight.

Former WWE star wins again, draws boos from crowd

Jake Hager, the former WWE champ who fought under the name Jack Swagger, turned his postfight news conference following his submission win over T.J. Jones into "Monday Night Raw."

Hager won via arm triangle at 2 minutes, 36 seconds of the first round after Jones tapped. But Hager held onto the choke, however, briefly after the referee had stopped the fight.

The crowd at Allstate showed its disdain for the former WWE star as he grabbed the microphone, but Hager seemed to embrace the negativity.

"Y'all can boo me all you want because you're not here right now!" Hager said in response to jeers.

He later added: "Keep booing me. I don't care."

Hager, a former wrestling All-American at Oklahoma, said he held onto the submission hold to make sure he had the victory. He continues to make noise in the sport after winning his second fight, albeit against Jones, who works at a beef plant.