Michael Chandler is steering away from leverage during a time where holds plenty of it.
In the last fight of his current contract, the former lightweight champion knocked out Benson Henderson by first-round knockout at Bellator 243 on Friday, Aug. 7.
Chandler made one final statement at the Mohegun Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, before heading into free agency. After making his Bellator debut in 2010, his decision has some sentiment.
“It doesn’t seem right to me to talk about leverage, to talk about it all because to me, these are people, these are people that I love, people that I’ve been around, people that we’ve shared blood, sweat and tears with over the last decade, so we’ll see what happens,” Chandler said.
“It’s going to be fun because as I said on the mic out there, life always has a way of revealing what’s next and God opens doors and closes doors right at the right time, even when you don’t think you may or may not be making the right decision or when the decision will happen. I’ve always operated that way.”
Tying current champion Patricio “Pitbull” for the most Bellator appearances , Chandler showcased another side of his striking abilities in the rematch with Henderson.
Chandler caught Henderson with his left hand from his south-paw stance. It is the first the former UFC lightweight champion was finished in the past six years.
Now that Chandler is two up on Henderson, including a split-decision win at Bellator 165 in June 2019, Chandler is looking to even the score with the current champion. The 34-year-old lost the strap after a first-round knockout loss to “Pitbull” at Bellator 221 in May 2019.
Chandler laid out a clear picture of where he ranks in the current division.
“You got me, him [Henderson] and Patricio, that’s your top three right there and I think I’m No. 1,” Chandler said. “I think Benson would beat Patricio if they fought to, so I actually just dispatched int he first round, in the first couple minutes, definitely one of the best lightweights, if not, the second best lightweight in this organization.”
Chandler said he is eying a return to the cage before the end of the year. Where that fight will take place is unknown.
Although his future with Bellator in uncertain, Chandler’s highlight knockout is sure thing to add to his Bellator legacy.
“I’ve already cried with my wife on Facetime on the way over here. We talked about it,” Chandler said. “It’s going to be exciting. We’re taken care of either way and I’m excited to see what happens next.”