Chandler does not come off as arrogant man.
But after submitting the favored Eddie
Alvarez to win
Bellator’s lightweight title in a “Fight of the Year” nominee
last winter, Chandler isn’t exactly blushing, either.
“I feel like I can't be stopped right now,” Chandler recently told
Sherdog.com. “After the way I beat Alvarez -- who was one of the
top lightweights in the world -- in my last fight, I honestly
almost feel indestructible right now. I am extremely
Chandler will put that confidence to the test when he squares off
with Japanese veteran Akihiro Gono
Bellator 67 main event tonight on MTV2. Though regarded as a
heavy favorite to walk away from Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, with
a victory, Chandler has kept his nose to the grindstone in
preparation for his upcoming contest.
“I have trained harder than I ever have before for this fight with
Gono, and I am in better shape than I have ever been in my MMA
career,” said Chandler. “I am younger, and I am hungrier than Gono.
I know he has a lot of experience, but that is going to be his only
advantage over me.”
Gono, 37, holds 56 career bouts to his credit ahead of his meeting
with Bellator’s lightweight ace. A veteran of both the defunct
Pride Fighting Championships and the
UFC, Gono began his career in 1994. Though previously an active
competitor, Gono will do battle for just the second time in the
last 20 months when he faces Chandler. The Tokyo native holds 32
career wins under his belt and has been finished eight times out of
17 professional defeats.
If Chandler has his way, however, Gono will experience his ninth
loss by knockout or submission in short order.
“I know I should be able to finish Gono. I am going to wear him
down, and I will definitely finish him at some point. Over the
course of 15 minutes, I am going break him down and make him give
up,” said Chandler. “In my last fight with Alvarez, I was able to
land a lot of punches. [I dropped] him twice, and I almost finished
him on the feet, so I definitely feel comfortable that I can put a
lot of leather on Gono's face.”
Aside from the physical advantages Chandler believes he will hold
over his opponent, the champion says he will compete on Friday
night with some newfound motivation due to his recent charity work
for Friends of Kids with Cancer.
“I met a [nine year-old] kid named Robbie Chandler, [who had
battled] bone cancer since he was two. I showed him my belt, gave
him a poster, and we watched the Alvarez fight on an iPad. Being
able to put a smile on his face was very fulfilling for me,” said
Chandler. “A couple of weeks later, I heard that he had passed
away, and that had a really big impact on me. It made me decide
that I want to make a difference with my position in life.
“[Robbie had] only two years of his life that he wasn't in pain.
[Meeting him] just made me realize how blessed I am to be able to
do what I love,” Chandler continued. “I feel like if I am not
giving back for what God has given to me, then I am not serving my
purpose here on this earth.”