Chandler Cole predicts an early finish against Stephen Flanagan at Showcase MMA

It’s been a year since heavyweight prospect Chandler Cole last fought, but the reason he has had time off had nothing to do with fighting.

Cole states his absence from fighting was a deliberate decision as he wanted to get things settled with his new family before shifting his focus once again to fighting.

“Last July I fought Aaron Bush, almost a year ago, and then I was blessed for my girlfriend to give birth to our first child, and I just took a little time (off, because) I really wanted to get that down first,” Cole told MMAWeekly.com. “I wasn’t ready to get back into fighting, because being a dad is absolutely amazing.

“I wanted to make sure I was a good dad before I got back into fighting because that baby depends on me. I got the hang of it, then I started training, and then I had a boxing match a couple weeks ago and won it, and I love (fighting) still and wanted to get back into it.”

When Cole returns to MMA this month, he feels he’ll be returning a rejuvenated fighter with a lot more skills than he was when he last fought.

“I’m coming back with more motivation,” said Cole. “Training has gone 10 times better than it has in the past since I bumped up to heavyweight. I’m excited to get back out there.

“I can tell with the way I’m training that I’m a more well-rounded fighter than last year. I’ve definitely put in the work and my game is at a much higher level than people last saw me. I’m going to try to display that and show people what I’ve been working on and how much better I’ve gotten.”

Saturday, in Johnson City, Tenn., Cole (5-1) will have his first MMA bout in a year when he takes on Stephen Flanagan (0-2) in a main card heavyweight bout at Showcase MMA.

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“I believe that he is good and this fight benefits him more than me, because he’s trying to get his name back in there in the hat of fighters in this region, but I think it’s going to go the way I plan,” Cole said of facing Flanagan. “I truly believe I’m going to finish this fight within the first two (rounds).”

For Cole, the remainder of 2019 is going to be about building himself up for bigger opportunities next year.

“I’m just trying to fight a lot,” said Cole. “Whatever my management can get me I’ll take. I’m trying to get experience, get some wins, and am trying to do some big things in 2020.”