One of the most notable names in the history of Bellator MMA is headed towards new territory. This summer at Bellator 244, former lightweight champion Michael Chandler will face Benson Henderson in a rematch of their first fight in 2016, a fight that Chandler won by split decision, but it will also be Chandler’s last fight on his current contract.
According to a report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Chandler not only revealed that this is the last fight on his deal, but that he might be ready to test free agency after his fight with Henderson.
“I think I’m a guy who could go to ONE Championship and finish my trilogy with Eddie Alvarez, or imagine me fighting guys like Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier, and putting on Fights of the Year. And I do think I’m the best guy to solve the puzzle of Khabib Nurmagomedov.”
Chandler started his Bellator career on a 9-fight winning streak back in 2010, and would drop his first loss inside the promotion to Eddie Alvarez by way of split decision, then lost two straight to former Bellator champion Will Brooks. In his 22-fight span with the promotion, Chandler has gone 17-5 inside the cage, and while he told ESPN that Bellator has taken care of him throughout his tenure, he is focused on securing a future for his family.
“Bellator has taken care of me, and I’ve taken care of them. It’s been the perfect storm of a symbiotic relationship — them having an asset they were not willing to lose, and me being in a situation where the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” (Chandler to ESPN)
For the legacy side of his career, Chandler is intrigued by the possibility of free agency because it also present him the possible opportunity to fight the very best fighters in the world, an opportunity he hasn’t yet to follow through on.
“For me, getting up is an inside job, but it has been hard stepping in the cage with guys who I’ve had to lose against and not a lot to gain,” Chandler said. “If I had the opportunity to fight Khabib, or anyone ranked No. 1 — I’ve played that in my head a million times. Not since 2011, when I stepped into the cage and fought Eddie Alvarez for the first time and was the extreme underdog — I’ve never quite had that feeling of a 10 since then.”
Michael Chandler is clearly focused on his upcoming fight against Benson Henderson in June, there seems to be a real possibility that he could leave Bellator MMA after 10 years, and test the open market looking for the toughest fights for his career.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews, BJPenn.com, and TheScrap.Co while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and works as an Associate Producer on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to some of the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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