Season 9 lightweight tournament winner Will Brooks was looking forward to eventually fighting the winner.
Alvarez, however, had to withdraw due to a concussion suffered while training for the fight. With Alvarez’s return uncertain, Bellator officials decided to pit Chandler vs. Brooks for an interim lightweight belt.
Brooks said before the fight, “This is my night and I’m gonna take it.”
It wasn’t as dominant of a performance as his statement, but Brooks did, in fact, take a split decision victory, winning the Bellator interim lightweight championship and spoiling a rubber match between Alvarez and Chandler.
Chandler unleashed his strategy immediately, using his wild punching to set up his takedowns and put Brooks on the mat. That strategy worked well in the first two rounds, but after Brooks was able to take Chandler’s back in the third round with a body triangle locked on, things changed.
Brooks did some solid damage in rounds three and four, bloodying Chandler’s face, and opening a gash near his left eye.
The final round was close, Chandler again going after takedowns, but having trouble getting Brooks to the mat, much like he did in the third and fourth rounds.
Chandler went down briefly in the final round with Brooks driving a couple hard knees into his ribs and thighs, and then suplexing the former champ. Chandler regrouped and sent Brooks to the mat in the waning moments of the round. He followed Brooks to the mat and landed a few more blows before switching to an arm-triangle choke attempt. Chandler, however, couldn’t find the finish and it cost him the fight.
Brooks earned a 48-47 nod from two judges, while the other saw it the same score in Chandler’s favor.
Chandler didn’t make any excuses after the fight, saying, “This was by far the worst performance of my life. Lots of different things going on. Congratulations to Will Brooks. I’ll be back, stronger.”
Brooks was ecstatic, but gave Chandler his due respect.
“This is an amazing thing to have. To get an opportunity to fight Chandler, it was an amazing fight,” said Brooks. “He’s been a champion for a long time; he’s still a champion.”
He then shifted his focus to the next task at hand.
“Alvarez, get healthy, I’m looking for you. Get healthy and stay healthy.”