Michael Chandler made a pretty strong statement in his last fight for Bellator when he dismantled and submitted former Olympian Rick Hawn to make the first successful defense of his lightweight title.
Undefeated as a professional, Chandler is rated as one of the top 155lb fighters in the world, and he’s still developing as a fighter, learning new tricks each day he steps in the gym.
Now coming off a dominant win, Chandler is ready to accept the next challenge that Bellator throws at him via the “toughest tournament in sports”.
“I worry about the challenge of waking up every morning, brushing my teeth, and going to the gym. That’s the challenge, every single day is the challenge, and I only have so many years in this sport, and everyday I get to wake up and become a better fighter is a challenge I get to overcome. I’m going to continue to get better,” Chandler told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.
“Luckily, it’s not up to me to worry about who I’m going to fight. I’ve got great management, I’m fighting for an organization that is hopefully, as they’ve already promised, they’re going to keep pumping out tournament champions this year, and they are definitely showing signs of doing that with the Marcin Held/Dave Jansen (fight) and another tournament starting this week.”
Some have said that the names that currently litter the Bellator lightweight tournament aren’t the kind of fighters that will push Chandler further in his career, but he vehemently disagrees. You see once upon a time, Chandler was the young guy making his way in the sport by going through the Bellator lightweight tournament, and there’s no better path than earning your way to a title shot.
“Anybody who can go through a tournament, fight three times in three months, take your injuries from the first fight into the second fight, and take those injuries from the first and second fight into a third fight is in itself something to hold with pride. To be able to do that, it says a lot about a man’s competiveness,” Chandler stated.
While Chandler’s next fight will likely come against the winner of the next Bellator tournament final pitting Marcin Held against Dave Jansen, one name that never escapes the champion is former title holder Eddie Alvarez.
Chandler beat Alvarez in one of the best fights for all of 2011, and it’s still regarded as the greatest fight of all time to take place in Bellator. Currently, Alvarez is embroiled in a legal dispute between Bellator and the UFC for his contract rights, and it’s unclear when he will compete again.
Still, it’s hard to ignore some of the statements made in court recently as Bellator argued to block an injunction filed by Alvarez as he tried to break free of the promotion and sign with the UFC, and one point of contention was the promotion’s intent to produce a pay-per-view featuring the former champion in a rematch against Chandler.
According to Chandler, Bellator putting him in a rematch on pay-per-view against Alvarez is news to him.
“No to be quite honest absolutely not,” Chandler responded when asked about a potential offer to face Alvarez again. “I haven’t talked to anybody about that, I try to stay as far away from reading and getting involved in all the hooplah, and that kind of stuff. I have not talked to anyone from Bellator or Spike, I’ve talked to my management numerous times and they haven’t talked to anyone at Spike or Bellator about that.
Chandler has no problem facing Alvarez again if he earns his way back to a title shot, but as of now that fight hasn’t been presented to him.
“I wish him the best, I know he’s been in the sport for a while, and he deserves great things in this sport, and if it’s coming back to Bellator and going back through the tournament and fighting me, so be it, I’m ready. I’m going to take on all comers,” said Chandler.
The million dollar question seems to remain would Eddie Alvarez go back through a tournament or would Bellator offer Chandler the same kinds of incentives to face the former champion in a lucrative rematch?
Chandler opts out of that subject and says he’ll leave it up to his management team and Bellator to decide what comes next, but there’s no doubt he had to earn his way to a title shot, and the fighters currently in the next rounds of the lightweight tournament are doing the same thing.
“I try to stay out of all that stuff, the stuff outside of fighting, I just step into the cage and fight another man, whoever Bellator and my manager tell me to fight, but I definitely know Bellator and Bjorn (Rebney) were set in their ways, you had to go through the tournament, to become the No. 1 contender to fight the champion,” said Chandler.
“I know there is a new rule (championship rematch clause) but that is a new rule. Mine and Eddie’s fight was over a year ago. He should probably have to go through the tournament, but I just want to fight the best in the world.”
(photo courtesy of Bellator.com)