Michael Chandler took out Eddie Alvarez. | Photo: Keith Mills
Michael Chandler got off to a good start against Eddie Alvarez on Saturday at Bellator 58, but in the third round he took a pounding.
For the undefeated Chandler, it was a new experience.
“That was the first time I found myself in a pretty adverse situation,” he told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “It was really just the first time I’d been hit that many times. … It was really just hard to come back and honestly just get my bearings, trying to figure out where his next three punches were coming from.”
Chandler found himself in a war against a veteran. Still, he maintained his calm and his confidence.
“I knew I was going to survive,” he said. “Once I got back to the corner, [coach Gil Martinez] just had a way of letting me know everything’s going to be fine. I still had a chance.”
Chandler not only survived the third round, he came back in the fourth and won the fight. After rocking Alvarez on the feet, Chandler submitted him with a rear-naked choke to become the new Bellator lightweight champion. It was a thrilling bout, and although Chandler took his share of punishment -- including a cut under his eye that he said was still “oozing out blood and whatever” two days later -- he also proved his toughness.
“I’m glad people saw me with my back against the wall,” Chandler said, “and I still was able to win the fight.”
In Alvarez, he also beat the No. 6-ranked lightweight in the world. Chandler would seem poised to enter the top 10 now, but that’s not a concern of his.
“I honestly don’t really care or know where my ranking’s going to go,” he said. “All I can really control is how many hours I put in the gym and how hard I’m working and how focused I am and how badly I just want to continue to defend the belt and continue getting better and better. The sky’s the limit.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has already suggested that Chandler is one of the best lightweights in the world. He’s only a couple of years into his career, but he’s certainly on the right track.
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Chandler said. “I’ve got a lot, a lot of hours -- thousands and thousands of hours to put in in the gym. I know I’m going to get there eventually, one day, and I know I will be known as the greatest lightweight in the world and hopefully the greatest fighter of all time. That’s why I’m here. I want to put butts in seats and I want to put on a great show and I want to really work my hardest to become that next level, that next generation of fighters. I think I’m hopefully on my way to doing that.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 37:45).