Michael Chandler made a statement in what could potentially be his final Bellator MMA fight.
The former three-time lightweight champion and face of the promotion knocked out Benson Henderson in the first round of their main event fight at Bellator 243 on Friday. It was the final fight on Chandler’s current contract, and an impressive way to enter free agency. Especially given former UFC lightweight champ Henderson had only been finished on the feet once before.
For Chandler, it’s a reminder that despite the loss of his title to Patricio Pitbull last year, he remains a threat to anyone in the 155lb division. Inside or outside of Bellator MMA. Whether or not he jumps ship remains to be seen: a fun third fight with Eddie Alvarez awaits in ONE Championship, but what else the Singapore-based promotion could offer remains to be seen. Chandler would make an interesting addition to the UFC’s lightweight division, meanwhile, but with its depth, he’d be further from a title shot there than anywhere else — and at 34, his window is quickly closing.
Of course, the best option for Chandler might be the re-sign with Bellator, and the ball seems to be in their court.
Elsewhere on the Bellator 243 card, Tim Johnson made it two first-round finishes in a row, and suddenly looks like a new fighter. That’s bad news for the rest of Bellator’s heavyweight division.
Full results from the event and a gallery of highlights can be found below!
Bellator 243: Chandler vs. Henderson 2 Results
Michael Chandler def. Benson Henderson by knockout (punches), Round 1, 2:09
Timothy Johnson def. Matt Mitrione by TKO (punches), Round 1, 3:14
Myles Jury def. Georgi Karakhanyan by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)
Sabah Homasi def. Curtis Millender by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Adam Borics def. Mike Hamel by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Cris Lencioni def. AJ Agazarm by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
Valerie Loureda def. Tara Graff by TKO (punches), Round 2, 5:00
Grant Neal def. Hamza Salim by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-24)
Charlie Campbell def. Nainoa Dung by TKO (leg kicks), Round 2, 1:42
Dalton Rosta def. Mark Gardner by TKO (doctor’s stoppage – cut), Round 1, 5:00