Until his second meeting with Eddie Alvarez and subsequent introduction to Will Brooks, who stood in for a rubber match with Alvarez, Michael Chandler was undefeated.
Only twice during his flawless streak had ex-champ Chandler previously gone to the scorecards, and after back-to-back trips in his most recent outings resulted in losses, he sees an easy lesson in his current situation.
“It’s crazy,” Chandler recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “It doesn’t matter how many people have you winning. You can lose that easily. Coming off two losses like that that were very, very, very close and were both split decisions, it just goes to show, you’ve got to strive for finishing fights. My goal’s always to finish fights, but even more so now – I want to go out there and finish fights.”
Chandler (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) finished nine of his first 12 opponents in professional competition, including now-champ Alvarez in their now-classic meeting in 2011. But he lost his belt with a split call to Alvarez this past fall and was outpointed by Brooks (14-1 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) at this past month’s Bellator 120 after Alvarez (25-3 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) suffered a concussion in training and was forced to withdraw from the event.
The loss appeared to scuttle the highly anticipated rematch between the lightweights, which served as the last scheduled fight on Alvarez’s contract after a court battle produced an amended deal with the Viacom-owned promotion.
Immediately after Brooks’ win, Bellator indicated a third fight between Chandler and Alvarez might take place despite Brooks’ win, but since then has yet to reveal its plans. Brooks and Alvarez, meanwhile, have indicated they’d like to fight each other.
“Obviously we’re in a tangled web of myself, Brooks and Alvarez,” Chandler said. “A lot of people want to see any combination of those fights. I’m still in my rest period to enjoy life a little bit, take care of my body and wait for whatever the next fight might be.
“At the end of the day, contracts and out-of-court settlements, there’s so much attorney language you can’t really understand it. There might be a loophole that [Alvarez] could fight Brooks and be able to leave, or he might have to fight me. We’ll see. I’ve seen him and Brooks go at it, and Alvarez was saying he was the easier fight.”
Chandler didn’t underplay Brooks as a threat leading into the fight, but appeared to be caught off guard by the American Top Team fighter’s abilities as the five-round fight progressed. Brooks began to find his range in striking and outgrappled Chandler in key exchanges.
A last-minute surge from the ex-champ appeared to win back some of the momentum lost, but two of three judges awarded Brooks the fight.
The split decision calls against Chandler weren’t touted as robberies, and yet they were extremely close contests. That’s why Chandler is chomping at the bit.
“I just want to fight,” he said. “I want to fight both of those guys bad. Brooks, I wasn’t able to show how skilled I was that night, and it was a really bad performance on my part. I want to beat Will Brooks badly and go out there and fight Alvarez. That Chandler-Alvarez III fight is an exciting fight that’s going to happen one day no matter what.”
And while Chandler is now forced to sit on the sidelines and mull his recent fortune, he still has praise for Brooks.
“Nothing can be taken away from Will,” he said. “He was a warrior that night and he brought it. Even though I think I pulled it out in the fifth round, the judges didn’t see it that way. I’d love to do it again at a later date with a lot of different circumstances and really go out there and finish him.”
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