5 Defining Moments: Michael Chandler

By: Mark Raymundo
May 9, 2019

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Michael Chandler holds two victories over Patricky Freire, who is the elder brother of Bellator featherweight Patricio Freire. That will make the bout a more personal affair as Freire moves up to 155 in order to challenge for the belt held by Chandler.

The buildup to this superfight has been intense, so expect the two champions to come out guns ablaze when they meet at Bellator 221. Let these career-defining moments show why “Iron” is one of the greatest the promotion has ever seen.

Explosive lightweight debut

After a sterling amateur wrestling career, Chandler transitioned into mixed martial arts by training at Xtreme Couture. He debuted as a welterweight opposite Kyle Swadley in an event called First Blood and won via TKO. Chandler remained at 170 until his third Bellator fight where he was pitted against Marcin Held in the opening round of the Bellator lightweight tournament. Then a teenager with a 10-1 record, the Polish welterweight was enjoying an intense hype behind him, but Chandler managed to submit him via arm triangle in the first round.

Lightweight king

Following the victory over Held, Chandler met an undefeated prospect in Lloyd Woodard. “Iron” used his superior wrestling to force a decision win and move to the finals opposite Patricky Freire, who had previously breezed through Rob McCullough and Toby Imada. Still banking on his trusty wrestling aptitude, Chandler grinded out Freire on his way to taking a unanimous decision victory as well as the tournament title at Bellator 44.

Championship rivalry

Winning the Bellator lightweight tournament made him $100,000 richer and afforded him the opportunity to challenge for the belt held by Eddie Alvarez. In the title fight at Bellator 58, an aggressive Chandler forced a rear-naked choke finish in the fourth round. The Missouri native would impressively defend the title against Rick Hawn and David Rickels before crossing paths with Alvarez for the second time. Their rematch at Bellator 106 was a landmark battle that saw Alvarez reclaim his belt.

Regaining the title

Alvarez moved to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so he had to vacate the Bellator lightweight strap. As a result, Chandler fought Will Brooks two times, once for the interim belt and later for the regular belt. However, “Iron” came up short on both occasions. Brooks was likewise signed by the UFC, leaving the title open vacant once again. Chandler and Freire once again fought and all it took was one solid punch for the Missouri native to be champion again.

Third time’s still a charm

Chandler yet again found himself in a rematch with the title on the line. Following a leg injury, he lost the belt via TKO to Brent Primus at Bellator NYC. Chandler worked his way to the top of the division again and eventually challenged the man who snatched the title away from him. This time, he was not to be denied. Chandler avenged his previous loss to Primus with a unanimous decision at Bellator 212. With the victory, he became the first three-time champion in the promotion’s history.

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