On Sat., Nov. 19, 2011, Michael Chandler made good on his guarantee by defeating highly-touted former Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez for his belt at Bellator 58 in Hollywood, Fla., in truly sensational fashion.
Some fans and mixed martial arts (MMA) pundits were shocked. Chandler wasn't. Beating Alvarez was always the plan. It's the reason he signed with Bellator in the first place.
Earlier this week, "The Brute" sat down with Pro MMA Radio's Larry Pepe to discuss his newly acquired title, his belief in himself and the path that brought him to where he is today:
"Yeah I mean, I knew signing with Bellator was the road I wanted to walk down and I wanted to see how it all played out. Take a couple fights before the tournament. Fight in the tournament. Win the tournament. Win the title shot. Win the belt. That just kinda how I saw it playing out and the tournament was a means to an end. That was the means to my goal. I couldn't get the title shot unless I got through those three guys. I don't want people to think I'm some cocky guy who pops off at the mouth and just looks past people. I took every one of those fights very seriously, but I'm a firm believe that you can't get where you're going unless you, number one, believe that you deserve to be there and, number two, just really, really see yourself getting there. You'll never get there unless you truly see yourself getting there before it happens. Envision it. You have to believe that you deserve to accomplish what you tell people that you want to accomplish. That's why I wanted people to know that I wasn't just here to make the money from the first fight or win the money from the second fight. I wasn't there to win the $100,000 check. I was there to get the title shot. And once I got the opportunity, I worked my butt off for those six or seven months in between the tournament and the title shot. The fruits of my labor paid off. I just knew I was gonna win. That's the confidence I bring to the cage."
After the jump, MMAmania.com will discuss Chandler's upset win, as well as the impact it may have on the Bellator lightweight division:
Chandler was an NCAA Division I wrestler at the University of Missouri. Wrestling is his base. And it's what directed him toward pursuing a career in MMA.
To make himself a more well-rounded fighter, Chandler has spent time with prominent boxing coach, Gil Martinez, to work on his punching, as well as his overall striking game.
Chandler credits Martinez for helping him prepare for everything that Alvarez had to bring to the table:
"Gil Martinez is my boxing coach. He started off as just a boxing coach, but now he's a big-time MMA boxing coach. And really, for me, he's my all-around coach. We talk strategy, we talk gameplan, obviously we talk boxing and we talk the whole preparation, as a whole, for the fights. I'm really blessed to have him in my corner. We went over some tape together Gil studied three or four of his fights. Even stuff like in-between rounds. Gil is one of those guys that gets the fight game. He'll pick up on little cues during the fight and he knows exactly what to say to me in the corner. I looked at some film, not a ton, because I wanted to focus more on what I was gonna do. But I knew some of Eddie's tendencies and we were able to exploit some of those. He hit with me a lot of shots, but I think we were able to see a lot of them coming as well."
It was a huge win for Chandler who not only defeated the champion, but also a fighter who was ranked in the lightweight top 10 by almost every ranking system.
After being upset by Chandler, there will be many who will say that Alvarez didn't deserve to be so highly ranked to begin with. Chandler disagrees:
"I’m not really into the whole
MMAgame. I train hard and I love my training and I love my fights, but I don’t really know a lot about the rankings. I don’t know a lot of the talk and the gossip about this-and-that and statistics. Eddie’s been around for a long time. He’s beat a lot of guys. Wherever they had him, I think he deserved to be there. I think he was ranked somewhere like three, four and some places, all the way up to eight. Some had him at about five. I’d say that was about right."
Regardless of how Chandler feels, people are going to talk. The loss certainly hurts Alvarez's chances of getting a call from the bigwigs at Zuffa anytime soon.
Either way, the storyline has changed. Alvarez may eventually work his way back into the title picture, but for now, it's all about Chandler.
The new champion doesn't see himself going anywhere for a while. He enjoys fighting for Bellator and is excited about the potential that the promotion has to offer, especially now with their new deal with Viacom:
"I don't think I necessarily need to be in the UFC. I just need to be in an opportunity where I can fight those top ten guys. Who knows what's gonna happen? I think you could be seeing some things as far as Bellator signing some big name guys. Look at where Bellator is. Now with the Viacom buyout and all that kinda stuff. There's definitely some things going on. I was a true testament to Bellator's recruiting process. Bellator is here to stay, so who knows? Whatever Bellator's got for me. Whatever my management's got for me. I just wanna be the best. I'll just keep training to be that. I know nothing's gonna go wrong with my career. Everything's gonna be a step in the right direction, whatever that may might be."
The question remains: Will Chandler actually see any top 10 guys if he stays with Bellator? For now, it would appear to not be the case, but only time will tell.
Do you Maniacs think Chandler will be sitting atop of the Bellator pile of lightweights for a while? Do you think his win over Alvarez exposed the former champion as being overrated, or is Chandler just that good?