There is a general sense of excitement amongst the Bellator MMA fighters that will compete in the second pay-per-view in the promotion’s history this Saturday night at the iconic Madison Square Garden venue.
It is fitting that Michael Chandler, probably the most loyal fighter Bellator boasts on its roster, is set to defend his lightweight title against Brent Primus in what he believes is the biggest event in the promotion has ever staged.
“It’s definitely the biggest card Bellator has ever put on,” said Chandler. “They’ve got the most amount of big names assembled on one card for this Madison Square Garden show.
“This is a milestone for me too; this will be my 20th professional fight. I couldn’t have scripted it better to have my 20th fight at the world’s most iconic arena, Madison Square Garden.
“I’m excited to get there. I’m excited to get out to New York City and feel the vibe out there.”
Chandler’s fights with Eddie Alvarez and Ben Henderson were widely praised by the international mixed martial arts community. Yet, with marquee names like Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko also sharing the bill, the champion admits there is a possibility his bout could fly under the radar on Saturday night.
“There’s a lot of perks to being on such a big card, but you can definitely get lost in the shuffle with so many big names,” he admitted.
“At the end of the day, I know I’ll always go out there and put on a good show. Whenever they tell me it’s my time to go, I bite down on my mouthpiece and leave everything in that cage. I have no doubt in my mind I’ll come out with a win.”
Despite Primus coming into the bout with a stellar unbeaten record, his name doesn’t bring the same excitement to a contest as some of Chandler’s previous opponents.
As far as the 31-year-old is concerned, he does not have the same amount to gain from the matchup as Primus, and for that reason, the brunt of the pressure is on the champion to have his hand raised after what he expects will be a successful defense.
“If anything it’s just motivated me to stick with my game. He’s got everything to gain in this fight and nothing to lose. A man who has nothing to lose is a dangerous man. He’s in a good position.
“Myself, I’m not in that good of a position aside from it being another opportunity to go out there and showcase my ability.
“I have everything to lose. My belt is on the line and my reputation is on the line. There is a lot of pressure that comes along with that if you let it get to you. When you’re as prepared as I am and as disciplined as I am, there is no way in the world that I will go into his fight with any fear in my heart.
“I don’t care if my opponent is 100-0 or he has a losing record. I’m going to go out there and do what I need to do.”
Currently, Ireland’s Joe Duffy has yet to re-sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship after contesting his last bout on his contract at UFC London on Match 18 -- a one-sided unanimous decision in over Reza Madadi.
According to Duffy’s team, the Irish fighter will be able to field offers from other promotions as of July. With Bellator’s expansion into Europe mainly being based in the UK and Ireland, it would make sense for the promotion to make a pitch for the Donegal man who has gone 4-1 with UFC since his debut in March 2015.
With Primus set to fight for Bellator’s lightweight title after just seven professional bouts thus far, Chandler could benefit from challenges from more prominent names. With that in mind, the American claimed that he would be a happy to lay his title on the line against Duffy should he sign with Bellator in the coming months.
“I’m not just in this sport to fight. I’m in this sport to fight the biggest names I can at any given moment.
“Joe Duffy is a heck of a talent. He was the last guy to beat Conor McGregor before he lost that welterweight fight against Nate Diaz.
“I think he’s got a good name and he’s got one of those accents that people love. People love to watch Irishmen fight and they love to hear them talk too. It’s great to see the sport growing around the world like that.
“I would welcome Joe to Bellator with open arms. I’d be happy to lay my title on the line whether that’s in Ireland or in the United States. He’s a great competitor and I would love to take him on.”