Newport Beach, CA. (July 25th, 2013) - As Michael Chandler prepares to defend his Bellator Lightweight Title on July 31st live on Spike, the promotion announced today an eight fight extension with the top ranked lightweight to keep the undefeated Alliance MMA product with Bellator.
"In all my years in combat sports, I've never seen the growth and development in a fighter like we've all witnessed with Michael Chandler," Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. "I believe Michael is the best lightweight in MMA. And, given that, I felt it was paramount to keep Michael at Bellator for the long term. Both inside and outside the cage, Michael is a tremendous representative for our Bellator. And, now as one of the highest paid lightweights in MMA, he's without question earned that distinction."
A former University of Missouri Wrestling standout, Chandler wasted no time turning heads with Bellator, finishing his first two opponents before getting a taste of The Toughest Tournament in Sports. Chandler continued his winning ways, storming through the Lightweight Tournament with decisive victories over Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Pitbull, earning Chandler a title shot against then Bellator Champion Eddie Alvarez.
What followed was the unanimous fight of the year candidate as Chandler and Alvarez engaged in what can only be described as an epic battle between two of the sports best pound for pound athletes, with Chandler eventually capturing gold with a submission victory deep into the 4th round. The win propelled Chandler into elite status, and the new Bellator Lightweight Champion continued his dominance over Akihiro Gono and Rick Hawn.
Now set to defend his title against David "The Caveman" Rickels on July 31st, Chandler looks to continue his stranglehold on the lightweight division for years to come.
"Since I signed with Bellator back in 2010, Bjorn laid out a plan for me of how he saw my career progressing and what type of levels we could reach together, and everything has come true," Chandler said. "I couldn't be happier with the situation I'm in right now. Bellator is my home, it's where I want to be, and it's where I'm going to continue to defend my belt. Over the last few months you've continued to see Bellator go out and sign some of the best talent in the world, and the tournaments continue to be loaded with talent that I'm ready to take on. I believe in this format and what Bellator is doing, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. My focus right now is solely on David Rickels, and making sure we put on a show July 31st."
For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA.