A decade into his MMA career and former Bellator lightweight titleholder Michael Chandler is still as excited to fight as he ever has been.
Chandler treats every day as another opportunity to get better at what he loves doing, and thus embraces the lifestyle of a fighter fully. He has plans to keep doing it for at least another five years.
“It really has been just take it one day a time, one fight at a time, one training camp at a time, one year at a time,” Chandler told MMAWeekly.com. “I had my first fight in August of 2009 and haven’t looked back since.
“If you would have told me that I’d still be in this career as long as I have now, 10 years in, pushing on 15, it would have thrown me for a loop. It’s been nothing short of amazing. I love what I do.”
For Chandler, inspiration to keep going is just another opportunity away.
“If I could do this until I was 60, I would,” said Chandler. “This is a great life. All I do is train, all I do is work out, and prolong my life by the training that I’m doing, the things I have to do as professional athlete.
“I’ve fought at Madison Square Garden, and warmed up in the same locker room as Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and Evander Holyfield; and now I’m going to Saitama Super Arena in front of 45,000 people where Fedor has fought – and will fight again – and the Nogueira (brothers).”
On December 28 in Saitama, Japan, Chandler (19-5) will look to close out his 2019 on a high note when he takes on Sidney Outlaw (14-3) in the Bellator 237 lightweight co-main event. The fight card is topped by a throwback fight between two legends of the sport, Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
“He’s a tough guy,” Chandler said of Outlaw. “He’s a big-bodied wrestler. He’s going to come forward and is going to take me down and try to take me down and control me.
“I’ve got to be fast when I need to be fast. I need to be strong when I need to be strong. The game plan is very simple and very thorough. I’m going to be exactly who I am since Day 1 and put my foot on the gas and not look back; try to put my hands on him as violently as possible for as many minutes as it takes to finish him.”
For 2020, Chandler wants to continue to not only build a legacy for himself inside the cage, but outside it as well.
“For me, it’s taking it one fight at a time,” said Chandler. “I want to build a brand that inspires as many people as I possibly can. I want to make a big splash in the Japanese market, and kind of ride that way into seeing who and when and where my next opponent is, and then we’ll go from there.”