Michael Chandler is not your average champion.
"I'm just so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love," was the second thing the Bellator MMA lightweight kingpin told me when we sat down last Friday night for a conversation about his life and ensuing mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
What was the first?
"I love wheat beer," which was a relief, since I had my eye on a Hoegaarden the minute we sat down. Of course, any conversation with the award-winning collegiate wrestler out of Missouri can't get underway without first dealing with the dark cloud cast over the promotion, thanks to an ugly legal battle between Bellator and former 155-pound title holder Eddie Alvarez.
Chandler remains unfazed.
"I like Eddie," he insisted. "But I consider myself the top guy whether he's here or not. I wasn't made aware of any type of rematch on pay-per-view, but if he stays, I have no problem fighting him again. If he goes, there's still plenty of work to do in my division."
Bellator will crown a lightweight tournament winner next month in "Vacationland," a process Chandler is very familiar with after winning season four en route to capturing the crown from Alvarez later that year in arguably the best fight in all of 2011.
And, as his dominating win over Rick Hawn proved earlier this year, it was no fluke.
With his undefeated record now standing at 11-0, Chandler is prepared to keep himself at the top of the division against any and all challengers, even those "mentally weak enough" to depend on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), a problem prevalent in today's fight game.
"I don't mind fighting guys who are on the stuff. Bring it on. If you're mentally weak enough to use drugs to try to make it as a fighter, I'll break you in half."
I'll drink to that.