It’s hard to say exactly where Bellator would be today if Michael Chandler wasn’t a part of its roster. The Missouri native has been fighting for the promotion since Bellator 31, and he’s been involved in several of the greatest scraps the promotion has ever put on.
Chandler will be in action once again in one of the featured bouts at Bellator NYC “Sonnen vs. Silva” on Saturday night when he puts his lightweight title on the line against Brent Primus. Aside from a three-fight losing streak a few years back, Chandler has been nearly impossible to beat inside the cage. He first captured the Bellator 155-pound title in 2011 when he submitted Eddie Alvarez in the fourth. He defended it twice before going on his skid, but he recaptured his title last June when he torched Patricky Freire in the first round at Bellator 157.
It's that sort of experience in huge fights that he thinks will be one of the biggest factors going in against Primus, who is a substantial underdog.
“I think that’s the main thing going for me in this fight,” Chandler told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “I’ve been fighting for a long time and have shared the cage with some of the best fighters in the world, including one of the best lightweights of all-time in Benson Henderson. I also beat another former UFC champion in Eddie Alvarez. Brent Primus is a tough guy, but he’s nothing that I haven’t seen before. I’ve beaten up much better guys than he’s fought but at the end of the day, it’s about me going out there and performing and focusing on my game plan.”
Much has been made of Chandler’s vast experience against Primus’ record of 7-0. Though he’s unbeaten and has looked terrific in accumulating his wins, he has yet to face someone the caliber of Chandler. Many wonder whether the big stage will be too great for Primus, but Chandler said it doesn’t matter of Primus is ready or not, because he’s coming right at him.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to pick up when or if a guy freezes up or the moment is too big for him,” he admitted. “I think a lot of that stuff is just talk. Look at Jose Aldo; he never stares anybody in the eyes, and look what he’s been able to do. Conor McGregor does the exact opposite where he tries to look into your soul. For me, I don’t care what the other guy is feeling because I only focus on what I have to do once that cage door locks and the fight starts. My job is put my hands on them and put fear and timidity into their heart. I just come forward and immediately you’re going to know why you’re nervous about the fight. You’ll know you’re fighting me once I punch you in the nose and the mouth.”
The stage will be a massive one, no doubt. Bellator has finally gotten into New York and there is no venue as magical as Madison Square Garden. Some of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of gloves have competed there and Chandler is excited to be a part of history.
“I think it’s perfect. I have helped build Bellator into what it is today and I’m one of their biggest stars,” he said. “They have also helped build my career into what it is today and we have a great working relationship. I’ve been with Bellator for a decade and I’ve easily put on some of the biggest fights they have ever had. It’s makes a lot of sense for them to put me on it. It’s a cool event and I’m excited to be a part of it. This is my 20th fight and I couldn’t have scripted this whole thing any better.”