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Vision Quest: Bellator 157's Michael Chandler ready to blast through Patricky Pitbull, win vacant Lightweight title

Bellator 157: "Dynamite 2" comes to Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., this Friday night (June 24, 2016) at 8 p.m. ET featuring a 215-pound Catchweight main event fight between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Satoshi Ishii.

Second from the top of the Spike TV-televised event is a critical Lightweight fight between Michael Chandler vs. Patricky "Pitbull" Freire. The winner will be crowned the new 155-pound champion after the promotion released the reigning champion "Ill" Will Brooks last month.

This is not the first time that Chandler and Freire have met -- on his road to becoming a Lightweight champion, Chandler faced Freire at Bellator 44 back in 2011, earning a hard-fought unanimous decision win before going on to defeat then-champion Eddie Alvarez six months later.

How is Chandler preparing for his first chance to fight for a title since his rematch with Brooks at Bellator 131? Chandler recently spoke with about the "Vision Quest" that he's on in in St. Louis (as seen in the video above).

"You can't really be a wrestler of my age and not love that movie. Like any older movies in the 80's and 90's and what not, the next generations are going to miss out on phenomenal cinematic adventures like 'Vision Quest' was if we don't continue to pay tribute to it. I really hope it gets a lot of eyeballs because it's a phenomenal movie, Matthew Modine's a phenomenal actor, the movie is such an inspirational film."

The song "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider has become synonymous with both the film and the other wrestlers who have walked out to it for their matches, from Dan Henderson to Kurt Angle, and Chandler loves that association.

"It's a sweet song, man. I loved the song before and I loved the movie before, but honestly, I think I love it even more now, both of them, just because of the experience and I feel like I'm emotionally tied to it. I hope we push it and make people go back and buy that DVD or even the VHS."

Intentionally or not, the association with the film revisits an issue prevalent in mixed martial arts (MMA) today -- the dangers of weight cutting. Chandler is aware of the risks, but unlike Louden Swain in the film, he feels he sheds weight the right way.

"It definitely was crazy back then. My dad wrestled back in the day and he talks about putting on his plastic suit and literally rolling himself up in the wrestling mat. He would lay down and they would roll him up in the wrestling mat so he could sit there and sweat. Even though we've got some guys who aren't doing it right right now, as time progresses, I think guys are getting smarter with it. At the end of the day, it's all just about discipline."

By his own admission, though, Chandler's relentless pursuit of peak physical prowess may make it seem like he's cutting two whole weight classes to hit his goal on the scale.

"I 'quote-unquote' cut over 30 pounds because I get up over 185. That's technically over 30 pounds above my weight class, but when I'm 185 I've got a little fluff on me, and now here I am sitting at like 172 (to) 175, probably six percent body fat, where a professional athlete should be."

Chandler has never missed weight for a Lightweight tournament or title fight so one can't argue with the results. That's the past and Patricky Freire is the future, although Chandler knows the "Pitbull" of old.

"Last time I fought him I had my eye on the championship. I had my eye on blasting through this dude and then getting that opportunity to fight a Top 5 guy in the world, Eddie Alvarez. And then we ended up having the phenomenal fight a couple months later with Eddie, I've kinda got that fire rekindled. It's time to blast through this dude again and break him mentally and physically and spiritually and get that belt."

What, if anything, does Chandler believe has changed about Freire in the five years since they last fought?

"He still has power in his hands, he's still knocking dudes out. He's still an exciting fighter 'cause you never know when he's gonna score the knockout, but I think he's stayed pretty stagnant with his abilities. He just kinda hopes for the best and swings for the fences. If he knocks you out he's pumped, if he doesn't knock you out he wilts, and I see him wilting in the first couple of rounds of this fight."

And if regaining the Lightweight title wasn't motivation enough, the High Ridge, Mo., native knows he'll have the whole city of St. Louis in his corner on fight night. In his entire professional MMA career, Chandler hasn't lost one fight in his home state.

"Bellator likes me fighting there cause they sell a lot of tickets. I still wanted to fight on that May 14th card (in San Jose). They find you a replacement when a guy pulls out and I wanted that to happen, I was prepared to do it and I was ready to fight, (but) it turns out I had to wait an extra seven to eight weeks. It's good for me, it's good for Bellator, it's a good night. It's my city, it's my belt, it's already mine -- it's a foregone conclusion."

Chandler hasn't forgotten about fighting Josh Thomson, though -- he still wants to see "The Punk" somewhere down the road whether in St. Louis or in San Jose.

"I want to see Josh Thomson come back both for his career and for Bellator. I respect Josh a ton. I was a fan of him before I started fighting. I would just like to see him come back and give it one last hoo-rah, and it's a fight that the fans want to see so hopefully I get to fight him."

Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.


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