While not many people could have predicted how 2011 went for current Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler, don’t count him among them.
“I knew my 2011 was going to be three fights in the tournament and then a title shot, so my plan was to win all four fights, obviously, and it went according to plan,” he said.
“It showed people that I could win a three-round fight, and that we were able to overcome adversity in a four-round fight with Eddie Alvarez. It really kind of proved to people that I’m here to stay, I’m working my butt off, and that I always try to put on a good show for the fans.”
A former Division-1 All American wrestler, Chandler has always strived for perfection in competition, thus while he’s pleased with his accomplishments, he feels he’s far from finished.
“I’ve got a lot of improvement to make and a lot of hours to get into the gym and get better,” he said. “I think I improved from my first fight in the tournament to the title fight. It showed how hard I’d been working and how hard I’d been trying to improve my all-around game.
“Am I satisfied with how well I did? Yes. But I’m not complacent. I’m ready to get better every fight, put on better shows and exceed people’s expectations even more.”
When asked how things have changed since defeating Alvarez for the Bellator lightweight title in November, Chandler responded, “More than anything for me, my life has changed because now I know with all that’s come to pass the potential that I have.
“I knew I had phenomenal potential coming into the sport, but at the level I’m at it just makes me want to work harder and continue to get better as quick as possible.”
Currently Chandler hopes to return to the cage in late April or May, and when he does, his goal is to continue to defy any critics he has left and be as entertaining as possible for his fans.
“I want to solidify my role as somebody who people want to watch fight,” he said. “(Someone who) is never going to try to hold on for a win, but to try to finish fights and win in dramatic fashion. Whether I have two or three fights this year, I plan not only on winning, but winning in exciting fashion and show my improvements.”
As for a rematch with Alvarez, Chandler told MMAWeekly.com it’s a possibility.
“Yeah, I would be interested in it,” he said. “I know fans want to see it. There are a lot of people out there that say I kind of got lucky or whatnot, but I’m open to whatever. I just want to fight. Whoever it is, whatever Bellator tells me, that’s who I’d like to fight.”
Outside the cage, Chandler urges fans to keep up with him on Twitter and also check out his new company that is more about providing hope than pounding someone into submission.
“I just started a charitable clothing line called Blessed Threads,” he said. “For every t-shirt we sell, 10-percent is going to a St. Louis-based organization called Friends of Kids with Cancer. That’s kind of my project I’m dedicated to aside from fighting.”
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