Bellator 197: Michael Chandler Not Sweating Opponent Change, Says “Every fight that I have is a fight that I want.”

Bellator’s Michael Chandler isn’t sweating the loss of a title fight opportunity at Bellator 197 on Friday.

Former Bellator MMA lightweight champion Michael Chandler was supposed to be fighting for the 155lb title this weekend. Expecting to take on Brent Primus, with gold on the line and a chance to right a TKO loss due to a leg injury suffered at Bellator NYC last June, Chandler had the rug pulled out from under him when Primus withdrew due to injury. Instead of Primus, he’ll be fighting Brandon Girtz come Friday night at Bellator 197 in St. Charles, MO.

While that may have taken the wind out of the sails of some fighters, Chandler is no less motivated to take on his new foe. He spoke to reporters, including Cageside Press, ahead of Friday night’s main event, saying that “every fight that I have is a fight that I want.”

“At some point you have to realize that you’re not in control of who steps in the cage with you,” he said. “The promoters can do what they want, the fighters can do what they want as far as being your opponent. You just have to be ready to step in the cage, bite down on your mouthpiece and fight.”

“I’ve been in this sport for nine years. I have a whole lot more to fight for now than I have in the past,” Chandler added. “It doesn’t matter who it is, when it is, where it is.” Having a lot more to fight for no doubt refers to Chandler having started a family: he and wife Brie adopted a son, Hap Whitaker, last fall.

Regardless, Michael Chandler is “taking everything in stride and enjoying whoever they set in front of me.” In the past, it wasn’t always so easy. At least this time, he gets to fight as planned, even if it’s not against who he planned to face. “It’s happened to me numerous times in the past,” he recalled, “where Bellator doesn’t have the depth of the roster to say ‘okay we have two or three other guys who can step in.’ Guys either have other fights or they’re not in shape or they don’t say yes. It’s happened to me in the past, and my fights get pushed back.” He noted his bout with Josh Thompson, that was pushed back seven weeks and kept him from his family longer than planned.

On Girtz, Chandler said that “I don’t care how prepared I am, I don’t care how prepared he is.”

“It doesn’t matter if I’m better than him on paper, it doesn’t matter if I’m more highly ranked than he is, it doesn’t matter if I’m supposed to beat him 10,000 to 1,” he told the assembled media. “You’re tied on to a tornado in there. It’s a roller coaster in and out of there. I’m fighting a guy who’s dangerous. I’m supposed to beat him, I can beat him, I’m better than him in every single aspect of the game, but I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t realize that you’ve got to take every single fight seriously and realize there’s a ton of risk no matter who you’re fighting.”

In the end, “you’ve just got to embrace that, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Michael Chandler faces Brandon Girtz in the main event of Bellator 197, Friday April 13, airing live on the Paramount Network.