Michael Chandler wants more fighters to explore their value.
Former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler defeated former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson by first-round knockout in the main event of Bellator 243. That was the last fight for Chandler before becoming a free agent. Chandler says his phone and social media blew up after the big win.
“I didn’t sleep for 36 hours, almost (after the fight),” Chandler said while appearing on What the Heck (via Mike Heck of MMA Fighting). “My phone was just blowing up, blowing up, and blowing up with people calling. If I opened up my social media, it was like 1,000-plus, there were just so many mentions that it didn’t even have the actual number on there because it maxed out. You can’t get through them all and you’re like, ‘Holy cow, I’m just old Michael Chandler over here. What’s going on? Why is everybody talking about me so much?’ I think it’s just this culmination of 10 years. People wanted to see me fight in the UFC in 2011 whenever I beat Eddie Alvarez and every time my contract comes up, people want to see me fight in the UFC. Now ONE FC is a huge player, Eddie Alvarez is over there. PFL is a huge player because they have an emerging organization because they have those million-dollar tournaments. Tons of options and I just couldn’t be happier.”
Chandler spent the last nine-plus years competing in Bellator, earning an 18-5-0 record in the promotion. The former lightweight champion wishes other fighters would explore free agency and bet on themselves.
“I think there’s a ton of meat on the Bellator bone,” Chandler said. “Number one, I love fighting for them. I love fighting for Viacom. That’s number one and number two. Number three, they just signed a deal with CBS and Showtime so there’s all kinds of stuff that could be happening there. I wouldn’t be afraid to throw on some boxing gloves and get in a Showtime Boxing fight. They’re going to be doing co-promotions, just like with Bellator MMA and Bellator Kickboxing, don’t be surprised to see Canelo, or someone like that, Showtime Boxing, Michael Chandler co-headlining these different cards. So there’s a lot that could happen there. Speaking of co-promotion, I would love to go to RIZIN to win that belt. Represent Bellator, win that belt. I’d love the revenge against Patricio Pitbull. Do I think I beat him nine times out of 10? Absolutely. Do I think I zigged when I should’ve zagged? Did he catch me and the fight ended? Absolutely. Do I have enough faith in Bellator to know that Mike Kogan, Rich Chou, and Scott Coker will continue to sign more lightweights? I do think they are. Guys just need to become free agents. More guys need to bet on themselves.”
There is no word yet on where Chandler could sign with next, but Chandler does have an exclusive negotiating period with Bellator. UFC President Dana White has expressed interest in meeting with Chandler.