For the last few years, Bellator has bounced around looking for the right home to showcase their tournaments and title fight main events, and once the UFC exited Spike at the end of 2011, it opened the door for another promotion to swing in and keep MMA on the network.
While Bellator already has several high profile champions on their roster, many of who are ranked among the top ten fighters in the world, the man who has the best chance to become the new face of the organization competes in the main event on Thursday night.
Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is a promotion’s dream fighter.
Coming from a wrestling background at the University of Missouri, Chandler has a grappler’s skills, but the heart of an explosive, dynamic fighter.
Undefeated through ten fights as a professional, Chandler has become one of the key components for Bellator as they look to build a bigger and wider fan base on Spike TV.
Chandler’s showcase moment came in 2011 when he had arguably the fight of the year against former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez. For just over 18 minutes, Chandler and Alvarez engaged in a true back and forth battle with each gaining the upper hand on the other at different given moments in what could only be described as true mixed martial arts at its very best.
Ultimately, Chandler was able to put Alvarez away in the fourth round with a rear naked choke to win the title, and claim his spot atop the Bellator 155lb weight class.
Now as Chandler is poised to be showcased as the first ever main event for Bellator on Spike, his mission isn’t just about retaining titles and climbing in the rankings. It’s about making sure every person that paid to see him compete or turned the channel to watch him fight, ends the night with their jaw on the floor and eyes wide open.
“I want to be the most exciting fighter out there. I want to build a fan base, and I want to build a following where people literally refuse to miss my fights. When they talk about some of their favorite fighters, no matter what my style is, I’m excited. That’s what I want to be,” Chandler told MMAWeekly Radio prior to his fight.
“I want to be exciting, I want to put on high paced fights, I want to be really hard to finish, I want to go out there and get finishes. I want to pick people up and I want to put them down. I want to take them to the deep waters and I always want there to be a lot of motion going on inside the cage. That’s kind of how I train, that’s kind of my mindset, that I’ve brought from wrestling in college.”
Throughout MMA there’s an unspoken philosophy that some fighters come in to win by any means necessary while others compete to truly entertain the crowd and the viewers at home. It’s a delicate line because careers are sometimes made or broken based on a win or a loss, but for Chandler he just wants to make certain everyone is satisfied when one of his fights is over.
Chandler is only content when the crowd literally lives, breathes and dies with every moment in the fight and if he can give them that until it’s over, he believes he’s done his job.
“I want to be one of those guys were people are on the edge of their seats when they’re watching me fight. That’s kind of the goal and that’s my goal for my whole career,” said Chandler.
“I’m never going to be satisfied with decisioning a guy. I want to go out there and keep a high pace, and hopefully get a finish in every single fight.”
Finish or be finished, that’s Chandler’s psychology and thus far it’s carried him pretty far into his MMA career. If he can keep that up with the Bellator title firmly wrapped around his waist, Michael Chandler is on the cusp of becoming a serious player in the MMA world.