'There will be a finish:' Exclusive interview with Bellator 106's 'happy' Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler - Bellator MMA

Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler is on a mission from God to make quick work of Eddie Alvarez in their highly anticipated rematch this weekend. Just don't expect to hear him quoting scripture because he intends to let his fighting do all the talking on Saturday night.

There are a select few in mixed martial arts (MMA) who you can undoubtedly classify as the creme de la creme of the sport. When you watch Bellator MMA 's Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler fight, though, such judgments come quickly ... and easily.

Whether you witnessed his first legendary encounter with Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58, or have only been exposed to his most recent body of work -- the 44-second shellacking of "Caveman" David Rickels at Bellator 97 -- Chandler is "Blessed" just as the tattoo on his chest reads.

Heading into Saturday's (Nov. 2, 2013) huge Bellator 106 event from Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif., Chandler (12-0) is focused on the task at hand: Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler, the rematch. But, before the two of us got into that, we touched on a plethora of topics in the world of fighting, including a potential move back to wrestling, religion in the cage and his homeboy Dominick Cruz finally returning to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

A collegiate wrestler at Mizzou, Chandler has deep roots within the sport. After this past weekend's inaugural Agon WC 1 event in Las Vegas, Nevada, I asked if he would ever consider double-dipping in the combat sports genre and follow suit with fellow is he, or isn't he, Bellator fighter Ben Askren by wrestling for the new promotion (ex. Tyrone Spong in World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and Glory FC)

"I would love to. Let's get that ball rolling. Anything that has anything to do with wrestling I am one 100 percent on board with. I wasn't the greatest wrestler, I was just a one time All-American, I didn't wrestle internationally, didn't compete on world teams or any of that kind of stuff. But, what the sport of wrestling has done for me and who it has made me, I just feel forever indebted to the sport, I want to help wrestling as much as possible. I didn't get to see the event, but I got to see the weigh-ins and promos that they {Agon} were doing and I would love to be able to go out there and wrestle."

By no means is the former Strikeforce fighter thinking of leaving Bellator anytime soon. The Bo Jackson dual-sport approach to fighting and wrestling for Chandler starts now.

He describes his status with Bellator this way:

"I had an opportunity to re-sign for a couple more fights and a little bit more time, so I did. My management and mentors talked about it with Bellator and we came to an agreement. I couldn't be happier."

The undefeated 155-pound champion also wanted to elaborate on a quote he gave during an appearance on "The MMA Hour" with our comrades over at MMAFighting.com, which led some MMA fans to hone in on the phrase "it's not going to be as entertaining as the last time" in response to a question about his upcoming main event showdown.

"I appreciate you asking about that. My exact point is, our goal as mixed martial artists if we're training like we should be and have the confidence that we should have, is always to go in and finish the fight. We don't go in looking to fight 25 minutes and have a 'war.' My goal is always to go in there and knock the guy out as quick as possible and get a quick finish. My words were definitely taken out of context -- by no means is this fight going to be unexciting or boring, but my goal is not to go out there and get beat up for 20 something minutes."

Seemed clear enough to me, I mean, solely from a business perspective, one would think the most efficient way to achieve long term financial success in MMA would mean fighting often and taking as little punishment as possible, right?

By the way, Chandler says he hopes to fight again as soon as Feb. 2014.

"Not even the immediate fact that I can go fight again in two to three months, but when I am 32, 33, 34 years old in this sport, those so-called wars are going to come back to haunt you. The less time you spend in the cage the longer you'll be able to fight, I love this sport and want to be able to fight for a long time."

A thought process Tito Ortiz, the man who forced the hand of Bjorn Rebney and Co. in bumping Chandler against Alvarez to the main event slot should possibly take into account with his recent health developments. Being the featured attraction plays no role in Chandler's preparation.

"It's the exact same fight, the exact same opponent and the exact same night. Nothing changes. I'm focused on the task at hand, it doesn't matter if I am fighting on Spike dot com or I am the main event. Nothing changes my mindset of winning fights. I've focused on getting better as a fighter, fixated on the little things. I couldn't ask to be in a better state of mind or feeling better physically."

The feeling must be contagious down at Alliance MMA, with the news dropping earlier this week Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao will in fact go down at UFC 169 for the Bantamweight strap. Chandler spoke of the development like a proud brother.

"I am excited man, I have known he was going to come back around that time for awhile. It's exciting that it has been announced, it's time to go. Dominick is the best in the world. He just needed an ample amount of time to get back to a form in which he can compete and that's where he is at. With a couple of months to prepare I have all the confidence in the world he wins that fight ten times out of ten."

And will he be an integral part of that forthcoming camp down in Chula Vista, California?

"Yeah I should be. After I go back home to Missouri, I'll be coming back to help."

Chandler spoke of home fondly, and with a victory on Saturday, the belt stays right at home around the 27-year old's waist. Looking ahead, let's say he does dispel of "Silent Assassin" Saturday, which according to Bestfightodds.com wouldn't be all that surprising (some sportsbooks have him as high as a -250 favorite).

What did he think of the man next in line to get a shot at the Lightweight title, Will Brooks, who just last week squeaked by Saad Awad via decision at Bellator 105?

"He's a tough competitor, but I don't think he fought very well, he didn't look very good this last week. It was a little sloppy and he squeaked out the victory, I never like to see that. I pride myself on taking people down and finishing the fight and putting my hands on my opponent. At the end of the day he is still a great fighter and I would love to fight him eventually."

Throughout the interview I couldn't help but think about how poised Chandler was entering undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career. A trait he credits to his love of training, recent maturity inside the cage and strong religious faith:

"I always try to stay as calm as possible, people focus so much on the fact that we are going into a cage to fight and millions of people are watching, there's lights, cameras, belts and money involved -- at the end of the day the more you think about that stuff you're going to waste time. I focus on being prepared and I am comfortable with the uncertainty that is about to happen. Also, I have spent two more years in the sport since I have fought Eddie and I have been in the cage three more times, I feel like a veteran and at home when I am in the cage. My God and my family are still going to love me, life is good."

Recently, the topic of God and religion's place inside MMA has been brought into question by fighters the likes of Chael Sonnen, I asked Chandler to explain his position on the topic, and his response wasn't what I expected.

"I think there is a time and a place. I am a very spiritual Christian, and publicly Christian, I'll talk to you about it for hours if you want to talk about it. But, when it comes to thanking God or quoting scriptures, I guess you could call it pushing your religion on other people, I'm not into that. I let the way I live my life speak volumes about itself. It's about being a person people look up to."

Bellator 106 will take place this weekend (Sat., Nov. 2, 2013) from Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif., with either Chandler's or Alvarez's hand raised in victory, but if the undefeated incumbent champion has anything to do with the result, he sees it ending like this:

"There will be a finish."

Can't ask for much more than that can we?

To check out the latest Bellator 106: "Chandler vs. Alvarez 2" fight card and rumors click here.

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