It's not exactly the trilogy title fight against Bellator MMA lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, but Michael Chandler will face Will Brooks for the interim strap this weekend (May 17, 2014) at Bellator 120, which goes down at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi.
Alvarez was forced out of the championship contest after he suffered a concussion, thanks to a series of "significant hits" to the head during wrestling practice a week from the fight.
Obviously disappointed, Chandler says if he defeats Brooks, he won't consider himself the real champion until he fights -- and defeats -- Alvarez.
For now, Eddie is just keeping the title warm, according to comments Chandler made on The MMA Hour:
"I won't consider myself the champion until that Eddie fight. Eddie is, I guess, the real champion right now in Bellator, and I'm not afraid to say that. Do I think I'm a better fighter than him, more skilled, and that I'm going to go out there and beat him in the third fight? Absolutely. But, I'll let him keep the belt ready, keep it warm for me while he heals up. He's really got to really evaluate what, how much he wants this sport. I'm sure there is legitimacy in his injury, especially a head injury, but, me personally, it's tough for me because this is the second time Eddie has pulled out of a fight against me. The first time he pulled out, he postponed it a month. I was supposed to fight him in October 2011, we ended up fighting in November 2011. Now, this is the second time it happens. It's just very unfortunate, it really stinks. But, I'll let him keep the belt while I take care of Will Brooks and then possibly Dave Jansen, or however long it takes Eddie to step up and get healthy. I just hope he gets ready, because I'm ready to prove to the world how hard I've been working."
Chandlers comments suggesting Alvarez needed to assess his fighting future on the heels of a series of fight-cancelling and postponing injures didn't sit too well with Alvarez, who later appeared on The MMA Hour, as well, to offer a rebuttal and downplay the "shitty" interim title Chandler was vying for.
"It's laughable. He's angry because I beat him and I'm the champion, and he has to fight for a shitty belt that adds up to nothing. He can say whatever he wants to say."
I apologize @BellatorMMA about my comments yesterday about the interm belt , U guys been supportive thru out , my reaction was out of line— Edward Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) May 13, 2014
I already feel angry about this situation and Mike's comment made me say something I shouldn't have @BellatorMMA Good luck to both guys Sat.— Edward Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) May 13, 2014
Nevertheless, lets not forget the third person in this whole ordeal, Will Brooks, has the chance to put a wrench in Eddie and Micheal's plans for a third title fight, should he manage to upset Chandler this weekend in what will be the promotion's first-ever pay-per-view (PPV) event
Crazier things have happened.