Michael Chandler will try to defeat Eddie Alvarez for a second time at Bellator 106. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Nearly two years ago, Michael Chandler became just the third man to best Eddie Alvarez, when he took the Pennsylvanian’s lightweight title in a “Fight of the Year” nominee at Bellator 58.
Though Chandler finished Alvarez via fourth-round rear-naked choke that night, Bellator’s reigning 155-pound kingpin does not place significant stock in that outcome, instead choosing to look at Saturday’s 106 rematch with Alvarez as an entirely new problem to solve.
“When we step into that cage, that first fight doesn’t even matter. If I’m getting my face beat in and I’m about to get knocked out, the fact that I won the first fight sure as heck isn’t going to help me,” Chandler told Sherdog.com. “Every single fight is the exact same. It’s another man my size with two arms and two legs who has put in a training camp. When we get locked in that cage, it doesn’t matter what your ranking is or whether you’re the favorite or the champion. All that matters is who wants it more that night.”
Chandler’s upcoming clash with Alvarez marks the third in-cage appearance this year for the champion, who enters the rematch coming off dominant title defenses against Rick Hawn and David Rickels.
“It’s only been like 10 minutes [total] in the cage, but what you really have to think about is all the hours, days, weeks, months and years that I’ve spent in the gym,” said Chandler. “I’ve been blessed with great training partners both at Xtreme Couture and Alliance Training Center. I’ve got some killers around me. Our sparring sessions are ridiculous, and you get better every single time that you step into Alliance.”
By contrast, Alvarez has not competed since knocking out Patricky Freire one year ago and now returns to the cage following a legal standoff with the Viacom-owned promoter. Though Chandler believes his active year has given him even more confidence heading into his meeting with Alvarez, he is by no means underestimating his foe.
“Staying active is always good, but at the end of the day, Eddie is a great competitor who has been in this sport a long time. He knows how to prepare for a fight, so I’m expecting the best Eddie Alvarez -- a better Eddie Alvarez than the first time we fought,” said Chandler. “If we’ve both gotten evenly better, it has the makings to be another potential ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. You can’t really speculate on that, but it is great to have this be my third fight this year, and I’m excited to do it again.”
Both Chandler and Alvarez were thrown a curveball last week when Bellator officials informed them that they would now headline Bellator 106 from the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. Originally slated for pay-per-view, the show was moved to Spike TV on short notice after Tito Ortiz was forced to withdraw from his bout with Quinton Jackson. Despite the late nature of the change, Chandler said he dedicated virtually no mental energy toward the development, and it should not affect either man on fight night.
“It’s still me versus Eddie Alvarez in the same exact cage, at the same arena, at the same time. Whether it’s pay-per-view or Spike, it doesn’t change anything for the fighters,” said Chandler. “It doesn’t matter if I’m the main event or the first fight on Spike.com. It’s all the same to me. Hopefully, my preparation was everything that it needed to be, and I’ll walk away with the win.”