Chandler Sees Bellator Quarterfinal as ‘Coming Out Party’

By Brian Knapp Mar 11, 2011
What Michael Chandler (Pictured) lacks in terms of in-cage experience -- less than six rounds -- he seems to make up for with confidence.

The unbeaten prospect will lock horns with Polish prodigy Marcin Held in the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 4 lightweight tournament quarterfinals at Bellator 36 on Saturday at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, La. Opportunity has knocked, and Chandler plans to answer -- boldly.

“This is my big coming out party,” he said. “I want to win this tournament more than anybody else, and I have the ability to win this tournament more than anybody else. People are going to see that on Saturday night.”

An Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative, Chandler wrestled collegiately at the University of Missouri, where he teamed with current Strikeforce welterweight contender Tyron Woodley and 2008 Olympian Ben Askren. The 24-year-old spent time at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., before he put down roots at Xtreme Couture. A Missouri native, Chandler has opened his professional mixed martial arts career with five consecutive victories, all of them finishes. He has not competed since October, when he submitted Chris Page with a first-round guillotine choke at Bellator 32 in Kansas City, Mo. Chandler ended it in just 57 seconds.

Held could provide a much sterner test.

“I’m coming out in this fight with Held to send a direct message to anyone else I might be fighting in the future,” Chandler said. “I’m planning on going out there and putting on a completely dominant performance in front of hundreds of thousands of fans on [television]. People are going to know that I’m the real deal.”

Held, who turned 19 in January, has won-back-to-back fights. He last appeared under the Infinite Fighting Federation banner in October, when he submitted Bojan Kosednar with a second-round kneebar at the Centrum Arena in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Held has delivered eight of his 10 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. He made his professional debut in 2008 at the age of 16, winning his first eight bouts.

Chandler aims to dictate where the fight takes place.

“If I decide to take the fight to the ground, that’s where I’m going to take it,” he said. “But at the same time, I will have the option to keep the fight standing, because I truly feel like I’m better than Marcin in all aspects of the sport.”
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