Tony Reid – If you could choose one fight from your career (so far) that every MMA fan should see, which fight would you choose and why?
Michael Chandler – “At this point I have to go with the Alvarez fight. I know it has been two years ago now I have gotten a ton better since then but as far as my career I went from being an unknown to be able to go out and beat a top five guy in Alvarez at the time. It did a ton for my career, it did a ton for me getting recognized in the MMA community. Not only just getting the win, but the way it played out. It was a really exciting fast paced fight. A lot of ups and downs. I went from dropping him a few times to him beating me up and looking better and then me coming back and getting the finish. For an MMA fan, you have to watch that fight. There was a lot of action. There were two tough guys going at it and neither guy wanting to lose that fight.”
Tony Reid – You spent some time at 170 and then made the drop to 155 but if you could hypothetically fight anyone in any weight class who are you picking a fight with and why?
Michael Chandler – “I always answer with the cliché, stereotypical answer of ‘whoever my next fight is…he’s the only guy I’m worried about right now.’ Realistically, the next fight is the only fight that matters. I have to focus all my attention on that fight, if not you and I may never do an interview again, if I start losing fights. To give you a little better answer I would like to fight anyone in the top ten. I’m blessed to be in the top ten myself, I’m honored to be there and I eventually want to be considered the best in the world in my weight class.”
Tony Reid – Who has the heaviest hands of anybody you have fought?
Michael Chandler – “In a fight I would say that hardest I have been hit was by Patricky Pitbull. I went out there and I think I got the better of the standup but man, when he hit me he hit me hard! I saw stars, I never got rocked but he hit me hard.”
Tony Reid – Who inspires you to get out of bed in the morning and do what you do?
Michael Chandler – “My parents both work circles around anyone else I have ever met. My dad always gets up at 5am and pulls himself up by the bootstraps and gets after it. He’s a carpenter and superintendent so ever when times got slow he was still trying to find projects, just never an idle moment. My grandfather owned a scrap metal yard and restaurant. My mom would go from being a secretary at the scrap yard to the restaurant to work. The hours and hard work and sacrifice they put in, and raising three kids and raising them well, what I do on a daily basis is nothing compared to that. They are two of my main motivations.
“This may sound cliché but the other motivation I have is the obligation I have to myself and to the gifts that God has given me. He was given me an opportunity and an able body to be healthy and 27 years old to go out and train twice a day and a platform to perform in front of millions of people is such an awesome thing to do what I’m doing. If I don’t go out there every day and give it my all I really am sacrificing the gifts I have been given. I don’t want to waste it or look back and have any regrets.”
Tony Reid – In many ways you have been the face or one of the faces of Bellator for some time now. Can you talk about what that opportunity means to you?
Michael Chandler – “It’s great. When I first signed with Bellator my first fight wasn’t even televised. My second fight was televised but it was at 3am on FOX Sports Net or something like that, after a high school softball game. Fast forward a couple years on January 17th I had the opportunity to fight live on SPIKE TV in the main event of the premier card. What the people at Viacom have been able to do has been crazy. The amount of exposure is amazing. So many more fans know Bellator is on the rise, they know we have great fighters and fights. The tournaments are no joke. If you win you go forward and if you lose you go home. Coming from a wrestling background I love the grind, I love that wrestling mentality of go hard or go home. It’s great to be a part of it. I don’t call myself the face of the organization but if they want to continue to use me I am ready and able and young and willing to hop on a plane and go wherever they want me to go tomorrow if they need me. I’m excited and looking forward to see where to organization goes in the future.”
Tony Reid – Let’s talk about the “Blessed” tattoo on your chest…
Michael Chandler – “It’s just a word but it’s a constant reminder of how truly blessed I am to be sitting here, talking to you and doing this interview. The fact that what I’m doing is worthy of being published in a magazine, just the things that so many fighters take for granted and things so many people take for granted, it’s a reminder of how blessed I truly am. I don’t want to ever take that for granted or waste any gifts I have been given. I want to be a person that gives people that inspiration and motivation to go out there and pursue whatever is on their heart. I can only hope that I can continue to grow and be one of the greatest fighters, not only now, but of all time and doing it with that platform of helping and blessing more and more people.”
Tony Reid – Do you ever wonder what you would be doing for a living right now if you weren’t involved in mixed martial arts?
Michael Chandler – “I actually just met with my financial advisor, who I went to school with. We both got our degrees in Personal Financial Management Services at Mizzou. I wrestled with him. I am trying to get my finances in order. You know, and everyone in the media knows that people in sports are making money and having success and before you know it they are no longer involved in the sport and are having financial troubles. I’m trying to make sure that the moves I make now, financially, are going to set myself up in the future and my future wife and future children. I’m taking those steps now instead of being caught off guard down the road. I got my degree in Personal Financial Management Services so I would be doing that or some type of wealth advisor or financial planner. Quite honestly, I would probably just end up wrestling or being a wrestling coach.”
Tony Reid – Put your fan hat on and tell me who you enjoy watching fight.
Michael Chandler – “You look at a guy like Chael Sonnen, and I don’t agree with how much he talks or all of the theatrics of the pre-fight and post-fight interviews but what he does in the cage is second to none. He has a lot of losses, most of which came by him making mistakes but when it comes to just running across the cage at somebody and picking them up and putting them down and trying to beat them up like it’s a street fight, Chael Sonnen is the best in the world. He is always fun to watch and of course I have a soft spot in my heart for all wrestlers. He goes hard, he’s always in shape and he puts a hurtin’ on guys on the ground.”