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The Local Beatdown With The Bard: Michael Chandler
- Updated: January 23, 2012
In this first installment of The Sports Feast newest series, The Local Beatdown, we sit down with Bellator Lightweight Champion and local hero Michael Chandler Jr.
This new series is a collaboration I’ve been working on for quite some time with help and input from many in the local MMA scene, and one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Once a week we will sit down and talk with someone from the local Professional or Amateur MMA world for an interview to keep our readers plugged in. We have spoken to many local fighters, promoters, trainers and even officials about this segment but thought who better to start this series off with than local wrestling standout and Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler Jr.
Michael is well known around Jefferson County for being a standout athlete and role model during his time at Northwest High School and the University of Missouri. While at Northwest High School He was not only on the Honor Roll every term but also finished second at the Missouri State High School Championships his senior year for wrestling. When he Graduated he enrolled as a student at Mizzou and was a walk on in their wrestling program. While at MU Chandler was a four time NCAA qualifier, collected 100 career wins, as well as earning fifth place All-American honors. Chandler earned runner-up honors in the 2008 and 2009 Big XII Championships and was awarded automatic bids to three of the four NCAA tournaments he competed in. Chandler compiled a 31-15 record against Big XII opponents and a 100-40 overall record in his four years as a starter. After college Mike went right into professional MMA training with Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, a gym headed up by one of the greats Mixed Martial Artists of all time “The Natural” Randy Couture. Chandler went on to compete in and win the Bellator Season 4 lightweight tournament beating well known opponents like Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, and Patricky “The Pitbull” Freire earning himself a title shot against one of the worlds top ranked lightweight fighters Eddie Alvarez. Chandler did not waste this opportunity to shine winning the fight against Alvarez in the 4th round via rear naked choke.
Monday afternoon I got the opportunity to chat with Mike and here is what he wanted to share with Jefferson County and all of the MMA world.
Is it surreal for you to have come from a small town in Jefferson County Missouri to now rubbing shoulders with greats such as guys you train with like Gray Maynard and Randy Couture and fighting one of the worlds best ranked lightweights in Eddie Alvarez, You’ve done award shows and reached celebrity status, have you caught up wit it mentally or is it all still a blur?
Michael Chandler Jr:
I think I’ve caught up with it now in the sense that this is tiny little step in what I want to accomplish, this is awesome but it’s just a footnote compared to where I see myself in the future. I’m so blessed to be in this position, I’m so blessed to have the family and support that i have, and the support of a great team. I’m out here in Vegas now, and I haven’t looked back ever since I made the move. I’m excited to have this chance and for the future, I’m just excited to get better as a mixed martial artist and as a fighter. I’d love to get to a place where I’m using the talents God’s given me to be a competitor that the fans love and hear fans say “there’s no way I’m missing that Chandler fight”. That’s the goal.
Tell us a little bit about your mindset when you fight, specifically in your last bout against Alvarez
I’m a guy that’s just always gonna be coming forward, unfortunately I don’t think I’m going to have an acting or modeling career after this whole fighting thing is done, at the pace I’m going I’m kinda messing my face up. The goal is to go out there be like a Floyd Mayweather who takes very little damage in fights, that’s the goal but I know I am geared with that wrestling mindset that I cant control, whenever that bell rings I’m coming forward with everything I’ve got, you saw it in the last fight I was able to almost end it in the first 30 seconds. I’m always gonna be the first one coming forward, I’m always gonna be on the offense and in attack mode. When you’re on the offense against a guy like Alvarez with his experience and skills the’re always gonna land some punches., that’s who I am, kind of a throw caution to the wind kind of guy, and I think it works out well because with that mindset you’re always gonna see a good fight.
Speaking of excitement and putting on good fights, am I looking too far ahead to ask is UFC in the future, what’s next for Mike Chandler?
Well Obviously there are contractual obligations when fighting for any promotion, but even aside from that I’m very happy in Bellator, I’m happy where I’m at, and it goes without saying but Bellator is growing. I’ve said from the beginning I’d like to grow with Bellator and they’re doing great by me, I believe that Bjorn is going to continue to be able to get me fights that are going to help further my career by getting me decently ranked opponents, and connecting me with people who hold alot of weight in the MMA world. Right now my focus is getting my butt back in the gym and working harder than any other lightweight in the world. The goal is to work hard and fight and continue to exceed every ones expectations.
What were some of your thoughts going into the Championship bout and what are some of your thoughts now that it’s over?
Going into the fight with Eddie I guess my mindset was that I had just one more thing left on my checklist of things to do that i set out to achieve when i first signed on, and that was win the belt. I knew when I first signed I’d have a couple of tune up fights and then 3 fights in the Lightweight Tourney and then I was gonna have the Alvarez fight. That’s the way I envisioned it and it all went according to plan. That was the last thing on the goals I set out for myself in 2011. I was calm, i was confident in my ability, confident in my training partners, confident in my trainers Gil Martinez and Neil Melanson they believe in me and they got me to where I needed to be. I felt good coming into the fight, I felt that it was going to be very hard for me to be stopped, that’s what I tell myself every day. Other than that I don’t really bank on how strong I am, or how fast I am, or how much I can bench press or squat, more than anything I focus on how hard I work and the hours and hours I put into this sport, and how much that I believe i do truly deserve to be the best lightweight in the world. Before you can achieve anything you have to believe. Frankie Edgar believes he is the best and that’s why he’s the UFC champ, and I think I’m kind of on that same wave length with him. After the fight i felt alot of relief, I felt finally this long sought after goal had been reached. I was finally seeing the fruits of my labor and it all went according to plan. It was good to take a step back after winning and spend a little time with family over the holidays and now I’m starting to get that itch to get back in the cage, and get back to training my butt off.
Mike, You’re well known for your faith as a Christian man, what are some things you’d like to share with your fans about your faith?
The biggest thing for me is the conviction I feel every single day when I wake up I know that I’ve been blessed with so much and been given amazing abilities to be able to compete at this high level in a sport that is rapidly growing. I’ve just been given so much, I feel a strong conviction that if I’m not doing everything I can every single day with the blessings and abilities God has given me then i wouldnt be living to my full potential. I’ve recently been working on something new, we’ve just launched a website this week called www.BlessedThreads.com which benefits a St Louis based charity called “Friends of Kids with Cancer”. I was blessed to get to go and visit the Children’s hospital over the holidays, and got to meet a few kids dealing with terminal illnesses, one of which has since passed away. I think it’s important for us to do our best to help those in need. It’s crazy to think about how much I’ve been given and what disservice to the world it would be if i didn’t pursue everything with my best every single day.
Is there anything you’d like to leave your fans and everyone reading with?
I just wanna say thanks first and foremost to my family for all of their undying support, and everyone back home who is supporting me and rooting for me I really appreciate it, I’m just a High Ridge boy trying to make it. I’d like to encourage everyone to make sure and check out my second passion aside from fighting with Blessed Threads, Id love to encourage everyone to know You’re best days and blessed days are out ahead of you and no matter what your circumstances are you are blessed and you have to live that lifestyle and you’ll gradually see things change for the better.
Photo Courtesy of BlessedThreads.com