Michael Chandler knows setbacks are part of the sport, and he’s certain he’ll get another comeback story following a controversial loss at Bellator 221.
Chicago, IL — Things did not go according to plan for Michael Chandler at Bellator 221 on Saturday night. The Chicago card was a stacked tentpole event, and Chandler was the lightweight champion heading in. The favorite to retain his title against Patricio Pitbull, moving up in weight for the fight.
Michael Chandler walked out of the AllState Arena down a belt, but with his head held high. A quick knockout, which many felt was a quick stoppage, ended his night early. But Chandler isn’t sweating the loss, and is certain he and Pitbull will meet again.
“I’m a fighter. The promoters will promote,” Chandler told reporters including Cageside Press post-fight. But that said, “I think you’re going to see an overwhelming majority of the people that are going to want to see a rematch. I think Bellator’s probably going to want to see the rematch. Of course I want the rematch.”
However, “whether you’re in the camp that you think it was an early stoppage, or not, I’m not going to sit up here and rant and rave about all of that,” said Chandler. “You could have had 10,000 different refs in there and had it go 10,000 different ways.”
The focus now for Chandler is to get back up again. “For me, we’re going to get back. I’m surrounded by the best people in the entire world. We’re going to get back, we’re going to lick our wounds, we’re going to go back to the drawing board,” he insisted. “The sun is still going to shine in the morning, I’m still going to praise him, and life is going to be good.”
“Patricio Pitbull will step back in the cage with me. It just depends on when.”
For all the bad blood between the two leading into the fight — especially on Pitbull’s side — cooler heads prevailed in the end. “And that’s one thing too,” Chandler pointed out. “This is one of those moments, whether I’ve said what I’ve said about him or not, or he said what he has said about me, that the goodness of the human spirit was also shown in that moment.”
“He came over, ticked off, ready to spit, cuss, point, ready to really kind of get after it. And all of a sudden, you saw it hit him, and he came in like a sportsman.” There was certainly a moment, after the fight was over, where you wondered if tensions might not erupt. It’s not as if that would be new to the fight game, sadly. Look no further than Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
Instead, said Chandler, “Patricky was screaming more than anybody, his brother, even before the fight. So [Patricio] came in hot, like he was about to say something like ‘I told you so,’ type of in your face type of thing. And the human spirit took over right there and he actually came up and said congrats.”
“Do I dislike the guy in a lot of senses, absolutely. But this is a fight,” he later added. “This is a game of inches, a game of chance.”
Chandler has had fights where early stoppages went his way. This one didn’t. The sad part, in his eyes, is that “we were on our way to probably giving Bellator one of the greatest fights in Bellator history. I was about to get up, I was about to rally, I was about to put the pressure on him. Just like I do in every single one of my fights. I just didn’t get that opportunity. Bellator feels, it, they would have wanted to see it. I wanted to see it. Patricio Pitbull obviously didn’t want to see it.”
As for the ref, he didn’t say anything to Chandler afterward. “He stuck his head in the sand and ran.”
If it seems like he’s taking the loss particularly well, there’s a reason. “This sport does not define me. This sport is not who I am. I am not a mixed martial arts fighter,” he explained. Instead, “that’s ten rungs down on the totem pole. I want to be a great father, I want to be a great husband, I want to be a great man. I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and my son’s going to look at me like the greatest fighter in the world. And it doesn’t matter that his dad lost a fight.”
The loss might matter to his legacy and record, but that’s secondary. Plus, as Chandler noted, “you cannot have great comeback stories without setbacks like this.”
Watch the full Bellator 221 post-fight press scrum with Michael Chandler above!