Chandler has chance to add to legacy with second Henderson win.
Back in 2016, then-champion Michael Chandler defeated Benson Henderson via split decision. It was Bellator 165, just prior to Chandler sustaining a leg injury against Brent Primus that would cost him the belt. He’d go on to win the title again, lose it to Patricio Pitbull, and is once again in the hunt. Contract situation notwithstanding.
Fast forward four years, and we finally will see the rematch between these legendary lightweights. Chandler vs. Henderson 2 goes down this Friday, topping the Bellator 243 card. Four years though doesn’t make a lot of difference in Chandler’s mind.
“The thing about Benson Henderson is, he hasn’t changed much over the years,” Chandler told Cageside Press during the Bellator 243 media day. “He’s not the best fighter in the world, but he is hard to beat. He’s durable, he knows how to win fights, how to squeak out decision victories.”
Henderson doesn’t have crazy power or slick submissions, Chandler noted, but “he’s been the same guy since I’ve been watching him. Even back when he was UFC champion. He wasn’t a dominant guy, but he was a winner.”
In their first fight back in 2016, many had scored the fight 4-1 in terms of rounds, in favor of Chandler. The judges had it scored as a split decision, nearly going Henderson’s way. Chandler isn’t so keen on seeing the judges in this one.
“Every fight I hate going to the judges” Chandler explained. “I was put into this sport to be great, going to the judges isn’t being great. In the most humble way possible, I train harder than these guys, I work harder.”
In the sense of defeating Henderson once, that is a big win on the resume of any fighter. To beat the legend twice is a legacy booster, and Chandler knows it.
“With a legend like Benson Henderson, you beat him once, it’s good. But if you beat him twice you’re great,” Chandler opined. “For me, in a rematch, I always like to go out there and put on an even bigger performance on than I did the first time. So that’s the goal in the second one. Be even more convincing, be even more exciting, be even more explosive, be even more decisive on me going out there and showing my dominance over a guy like Benson Henderson.”
Beyond that, “it was the fght that was presented to us, and I’ll never say no to a fight.”
A win over Benson Henderson could very well lead Chandler to his former title in the lightweight division. This being the last fight on his Bellator contract, he isn’t sure if he will be around to take that fight. Open to returning, open to exploring free agency, Chandler holds his own future in his hands.
“You can’t get a better situation than me and Bellator. I came in as a relatively unknown guy, won the world title. My fights, three, four, five, six of them single-handedly turned Bellator into what they are today,” Chandler explained, speaking to his history with the company. “On the same token, there is no Michael Chandler without the promotion and the platform and the bright lights of Bellator. It’s an exciting time, even if it’s somewhat bittersweet if it’s the last time I step into the Bellator cage. Do I think that’s going to happen? I don’t know. It’s up to Scott Coker and the brass, and it’s up to me also, to accept an offer.”
Bellator 243 takes place this Friday, August 7 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The main card airs live on Paramount Network and DAZN.