There were more than a few confused faces and raised eyebrows when Bellator Fighting Championships announced that their lightweight champion Michael Chandler, fresh off of his Fight of the Year performance over Eddie Alvarez to close 2011, would face journeyman fighter Akihiro Gono in his next bout.

At 9-0, Chandler has rocketed past rising prospect to legitimate top ten lightweight over the last year, so when looking at his next challenge very few people expected it to be a fighter coming off back-to-back losses.

Throughout his career, Akihiro Gono has been a tough challenger for a lot of fighters including hard fought battles in the UFC with names like Jon Fitch and Dan Hardy. Still Gono’s career would appear to be past its peak, and more recently the one-time Pride fighter has lost two fights in a row and has gone just 3-5 over his last eight bouts.

The question then has to be asked of Bellator CEO and Chairman Bjorn Rebney, why was Gono given the chance to face their lightweight champion in a super fight?

The simple answer is because Gono was the one fighter who said yes.

“There’s a balance, you get a guy and I’ll try to give you as straight forward an answer as I can, when you get a guy who is good as Michael Chandler and I think we can all agree that Michael Chandler should be among everybody’s top list at 155lbs in the world. When you get a guy that good, good names who are not currently engaged in a Bellator tournament or beholden to a UFC contract, are not jumping out of the gym to take that fight,” Rebney revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.

“When you look at the list and you say to yourself who can we get that’s got a good history in the game, that’s got some huge wins behind them, could conceptually be a guy who could compete if he can re-ignite the flame and Gono was that guy.”

The fact is according to Rebney the call was made to several other lightweight fighters trying to find the best name possible to face Chandler, but all of them except Gono turned down the challenge.

“We went through a lot of different names trying to fight somebody to fight Mike, because we’ve got this tournament going on now, Mike vs. Eddie (Alvarez) was a while ago, you’ve got to keep a guy like that busy. It’s incumbent upon us to keep him busy, and you look through the list and you call a lot of fighters. You call a lot of 155lbers and say are you interested in this fight? And the answer across the board with a lot of guys is no. I’m not interested in that fight in any way, shape or form,” said Rebney.

Bellator’s current super fight format has been their way of keeping a champion busy while they complete tournaments to crown new contenders to fight in title bouts. With a move to Spike TV on the horizon in 2013, Rebney is hoping to do away with the super fight scenario all together, but for now they just don’t want Chandler sitting out for the majority of 2012 while their next lightweight tournament comes to a close.

Rebney admits that the call was even made to some welterweights who might have been interested in cutting down to 155lbs for the chance to face the Bellator lightweight champion, but again no one was jumping at the opportunity except for Akihiro Gono.

“Absolutely no disrespect to Gono, he’s had a spectacular career and he’s been at the top level of this game. He’s not been on a great run as of late, but he did say yes, and he said yes with a lot of time to train, and he said yes with an amazing amount of enthusiasm for the opportunity, and one that could change the direction of his career,” said Rebney.

No matter what money was offered or what opportunity was laid on the table, no one was chomping at the bit to face Chalder on May 4, so Gono gets the chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Bellator history.

“You’re looking for the best guy you can get, but a lot of the best guys that are available, it doesn’t matter about the money, they’re not interested in fighting a Michael Chandler at this stage of his career,” said Rebney.

“Michael Chandler is a beast in this game so you do the best you can with the situation.”

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
For more
UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow MMAWeekly.com on Twitter and Facebook.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Michael Chandler negotiating new Bellator deal, wants Benson Henderson or Josh Thomson

  • 17 days ago
  • 39 views

Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler thinks he’s got a pretty powerful piece of leverage in negotiating a new deal with his promoter.Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Rad read news >>

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2124 with Michael Chandler, Rob Font

  • 19 days ago
  • 0 views

Stream or download Tuesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Michael Chandler and Rob Font.Filed under: Bellator, MMAjunkie Radio, News, Radio, UFC read news >>

Ilima-Lei MacFarlane on life after KOing the soccer mom

  • 18 days ago
  • 15 views

Bellator women’s flyweight Ilima-Lei MacFarlane knew she would be answering questions about her first professional MMA bout for a while.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Teammate: Josh Koscheck will fight again despite Bellator debut injury withdrawal

  • 18 days ago
  • 6 views

Josh Koscheck’s withdrawal from his Bellator debut due to injury could have been a significant setback for the veteran fighter. Fortunately, though, it won’t spell the end of the road for the 38-year read news >>

Eddie Alvarez Was Shocked by Split Decision in Anthony Pettis Fight

  • 18 days ago
  • 3 views

Former Bellator MMA lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez defeated former UFC 155-pound UFC titleholder Anthony Pettis over the weekend in the UFC Fight Night 81 co-main event. read news >>

The Beaten Path: Top 25 MMA Prospects for 2016, Part 2

  • 17 days ago
  • 8 views

The constant, relentless grind of the UFC and Bellator eats up dozens of new fighters every year. One hundred three new contestants debuted in the UFC in 2015, less than half of the 230 who made thei read news >>

Absence of champ Minakov frustrates Bellator heavyweight contender Tony Johnson

  • 17 days ago
  • 1 views

Tony Johnson is a heavyweight fighter with a goal he has no idea when, where or how he’s supposed to complete.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2126 with UFC's Ryan Bader, Bellator's Ryan Couture

  • 17 days ago
  • 1 views

Stream or download Thursday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Ryan Bader and Ryan Couture.Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio, UFC read news >>

California State Athletic Commission won’t pursue Alexander Shlemenko for Russia fight

  • 17 days ago
  • 25 views

Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko is scheduled to fight in Russia despite a three-year suspension for alleged steroid use.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Dana White Explains Why Conor McGregor Gets Opportunity to Hold Two UFC Titles

  • 16 days ago
  • 721 views

Featherweight champion Conor McGregor is chasing history. He could become the only fighter ever to hold two titles at the same time when he faces lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos. read news >>