It will be a long time before fans forget the epic lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58 from November 2011.
And despite the fact the two are now slated to go head-to-head for a second time two years later, reigning 155-pound titleholder Chandler has no intentions of letting the second fight play out like the first.
“My goal is to go out there and finish him a lot quicker than the last fight,” Chandler today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I don’t think this fight is going to be as highly contested as it was the first time. I’ve gotten a ton better.”
Chandler (12-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA) could be right; in the two years since he submitted Alvarez (24-3 MMA, 8-1 BMMA) in the fourth round of their first meeting, he’s picked up three stoppage victories and improved his undefeated record to 12-0 – all while looking more and more polished with each fight.
Alvarez, on the other hand, has competed just twice in that timeframe and has spent the entirety of his 2013 campaign tied up in a legal dispute with Bellator officials.
But with those legal issues now resolved now, as MMAjunkie.com reported earlier today, the duo is booked to fight Nov. 2 in the co-headliner of Bellator 106, which marks the California-based organization’s debut on pay-per-view. Former UFC champs Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson meet in the headliner.
Many are hoping to see a mirror image of the competitive and action-packed “Fight of the Year” candidate from 2011, but Chandler has different plans that include spending a minimal amount of time in the cage.
“You want to go out there and you want to finish people,” Chandler said. “That’s what people want to see. They want to see knockouts. They want to see people getting choked, people getting submitted.
“I’m never, ever going to apologize for going out there and finishing somebody quick. That’s the nature of the game. That’s the goal.”
While a strong argument can be made that Chandler vs. Alvarez II is the most meaningful fight Bellator can put together at this time, Chandler didn’t lose any sleep when it appeared Alvarez was on his way out of the promotion.
“It’s definitely one of those things where before the fight got booked, I didn’t think about Alvarez much, and I didn’t think about the fight,” he said. “I’ve literally gotten asked in probably every other interview over the last two years about Alvarez – something about Alvarez, whether it’s me and him fighting again, me and him from the first fight or now the saga of the Bellator vs. Alvarez that’s finally passed and settled.
“We’re always going to be connected, and now this is just another part of that kind of bond that we have. We don’t know each other, but we fought each other once in 2011 or whatever it was. People have been talking about it ever since, so this is going to be a great time to just go out there and put on a great show for the fans.”
At just 27 years old and training out of Alliance MMA in San Diego alongside familiar names such as Dominick Cruz, Mike Easton and Ross Pearson, Chandler is at the stage of his career where he brings an improved version of his skills and new tools to the cage each time.
That’s going to be no different heading into the second fight with Alvarez, and the champ believes the rematch will feature a much wider margin in skill between the two athletes, particularly in the standup department.
“I absolutely think [I hold the striking advantage]” Chandler said. “I think Alvarez threw every single thing he had at me (in the first fight), so I think he’s got that in the back of his mind. He’s going to need to bring a baseball bat into that cage to get me on the ground. That’s the confidence that I have.
“The speed of my hands has gotten faster. I think the power of my hands has gotten harder, has increased, and it’s just the confidence that I bring into the cage. … I’m not going to say that I hold the advantage anywhere, but I think I am the better fighter now, two years later especially.”
Beaming with confidence, Chandler is aware of the pitfalls and possibility of being lulled into another back-and-forth battle against Alvarez, but ultimately a short day of work is a successful day of work, and if the fight lasts a mere 44 seconds like Chandler’s most recent outing, he has absolutely no problem with that.
“I think you’re going to see two even better fighters than what stepped in the cage in 2011, so it’s going to be pretty exciting,” he said. “There’s going to be a possibility for another knockdown, drag-out (fight). But in my mind, I’ve gotten so much better, my goal is as every single fight: Go out there and get a quick finish.”
For more on Bellator 106, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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