If you’re going to enter free agency in MMA, doing so off a knockout win against a former UFC champion isn’t a bad way to do it. Not at all. That’s what Michael Chandler managed to pull off Friday, in the Bellator 243 main event.
His first meeting with Benson Henderson had lasted a full five rounds. The second, a non-title affair, barely made it past the two minute mark. 2:09, to be exact. Then Henderson was slept, and Chandler (21-5) was looking at a whole different reality. Two straight wins, going into what might be the last big contract of his career.
Where ever it might be. Just don’t ask him where his heart is at the moment.
“Don’t talk about my heart right now,” he warned when the question came up following Bellator 248. “My heart has nothing to do with fighting, my heart is so full, I’m so over the moon in love with my life and my son, and I haven’t seen them in twelve weeks nearly.”
Whatever does happen in terms of his fighting career won’t involve heart, but business smarts and financials, it seems.
“Obviously the business side of things, we’re going to make the best decision possible,” said Chandler. “There’s no doubt that Bellator is the organization they are because of the blood and sweat and tears and performances, five years that I put on here. And it’s also for certain that I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without the amazing people of this organization, and how well they’ve taken care of me.”
The promotion has an exclusive negotiating period with Chandler, the former champ confirmed. His phone is on. After Friday’s big win, during his in-cage interview, he called on Bellator CEO Scott Coker to get a deal done.
Where ever he lands, however, Chandler will be a player. And he put the 155lb division, globally, on notice Friday.
“Every single lightweight is on notice right now. Every single lightweight in the top ten is on the clock,” Chandler exclaimed. “I’m a force to be reckoned with. I’m a guy that’s been around this sport on the outside, looking in, seeing and watching and scheming and plotting and planning his next big move. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t. We’ll see what happens.”
Watch the full Bellator 243 post-fight press conference with Michael Chandler above.