Michael Chandler talks Bellator 138, Head Trauma, Melvin Guillard and more

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler looks to get back on the winning track next month at Bellator 138, when he squares off with Derek Campos on June 19th. Along with competing on the same event as the much anticipated Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock matchup, Chandler will also be fighting in his home state of Missouri for the fourth time in his career. Ahead of his return to the Bellator cage, the Alliance MMA product spoke to MMAOddsBreaker on Episode 104 of “The Parting Shot Podcast” and discussed a variety of topics.   New nickname “Iron Michael”  “For the longest time I didn’t even want a nickname.” Chandler explained. “A lot of people suggested “Iron Michael” and I really liked it. My last fight [Bellator 131) was the first big show that Bellator put on and they kind of really put an emphasis on each guy’s persona [and] nickname. You had Tito Ortiz [The Huntington Beach Bad Boy], Stephan Bonnar [The American Psycho] and all these guys had nicknames and I was the only one who didn’t. The production crew [asked me if I wanted to use] “Blessed”?’ and I [didn’t]. So I went with “Iron.”   Scott Coker as President “Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher built this company from nothing into something. They did a great job for many years and it was great fighting for those guys. But Scott Coker is on a whole other level in terms of MMA reputation as a promoter. If you know anything about mixed marital arts – you know who Scott Coker is, and most likely you have only good things to say about him.  When I first heard he was taking over I was excited. I immediately got a couple text messages from people who had fought for him in Strikeforce and they were really excited for me, saying that he’s a great promoter and a great guy to fight for.”   Treatment since the Coker takeover  “I know where I’m at and where I’m going to be. It’s just a matter putting together a couple of wins. I always show up to fight, I always fight my heart out, I never give up. Fans like to see that. There are so many guys, who are afraid to fight and they’re afraid to lay everything out on the line. I show up to fight, I’m a gamer and fans like to see that. I think Bellator or any organization in the world needs that. They need guys who are going to fight hard. They need guys who are going to conduct themselves like champions inside the ring and outstanding citizens outside the cage. That’s why I think that’s why Bellator has made a big push to keep me around, so we’ll see what happens in the future.   Bellator pushing  more of an entertainment brand  “It is what it is. MMA in 2015 is little more of a show business then it was in 2010. These fights are big, they’re spectacles, and they’re going to get viewers. It’s the same thing the UFC is doing bringing back Mirko Cro Cop, bringing back Rampage after saying they didn’t want him. It’s kind of competition between the promotions as to who is going get more viewers. At the end of the day you guys are going to tune in, even if you weren’t die-hard fans. People know who Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock [are]. So it’s going to get a lot viewer ship which is great for me because I’m on the card. I’m going to do well and continue to solidify my name in there. It’s all part of the spectacle of what MMA is becoming and I by no means say that I’m going to be following in that road of being more of an entertainer outside the cage. I’m going to be winning my fans inside the cage.”   Competing in his home state at Bellator 138   “I actually just talked to the girl who handles all the tickets for Bellator and our section is almost completely sold out. They’re going to be a lot of Chandler fans there. It’s going to be great to fight in front of a home town crowd for the first time since 2010. I love Missouri; I’m obviously born and raised there. I [also] started my fight career there. It’s definitely near and dear to my heart. There are a lot of people I want to go out and perform for. I’m going to go out there, dominate and give back to them, for all their support over the year by finishing Derek Campos.”   Losing three in a row “It’s never easy; but it’s what defines you, how you bounce back from those adverse situations. Even though I don’t have the belt right now I still see myself as better than everybody else in this division, not in an arrogant way but kind of in the light that I train hard, I train right [and with] the best coaches in the world. Keeping that positive self-esteem about myself and truly knowing that it’s a matter of time before I’m on top. And really almost embracing this time and knowing that it’s going to serve a purpose later on in my career.  I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be easy, but it’s just a constant reminder that good things are going to happen in life and bad things happen in life, but you just have to react to them in the right way.”   His thoughts re watching the Will Brooks loss at Bellator 131  “It’s a crazy sport; the beauty of this sport is also the curse of this sport [in that] a fight can end at any time. You could be winning the fight dominantly and get caught in a wrong situation, whether it be a submission or a punch and the fight can be easily over. Everybody in this sport, trains day in and day out to be successful. It’s not like the guys are going in there and swinging blindly kind of like how the sport started. There are a lot of technical guys out there [and] any fight can end at any moment, you just have to accept it for what it is.”   Concerns about Head Trauma after his last fight  “Absolutely not, I think it’s just part of it.  At the end of the day I believe I have head protection around my body. I’m not worried about injuries or any of that kind of stuff. I would know if there was ever a time where I needed to step back. But it’s definitely not now, so I’m excited to keep moving forward and being the number one lightweight in the world.”   Derek Campos as an opponent “He’s tough; I’ve seen some of his fights. He’s not very technical; he comes forward which I like. He swings hard and swings wildly. He’s got some holes in his game so I look it as a challenging fight but a good fight. I don’t want to go out there and fight some guy that nobody knows about. He’s been in Bellator for a while, people know who he is and he’s beaten a few guys. But by no means are any of those guys on my level.  I’m just excited to go out there, do what I do and finish him.”   Fighting three rounds instead of five “I don’t think a lot of people realize what it’s like to training for a five round fight compared to a three round fight. Actually I don’t even remember what it’s like; I haven’t fought in a three round fight since 2011. Neil Melanson is my head coach kind of running everything and setting up my workouts. Weave got kind of a good schedule where we’re going hard, but not too hard. We’re making sure to take our rest days. I’m going to be just as in shape, but not even close to being over trained. I was training five round fights for 43 months, so it will be a nice change of pace to be able go through a training camp smarter not harder. I’m still ready for the five round fights when it comes and I guessing it will come in the next year. So I’m prepared.”   Melvin Guillard signing with the promotion “I’m not going to sit here and call him out. I think he’s got some soul searching to do. He’s not making weight and it’s not like he’s there losing title fights to tough people necessarily, he’s just losing some fights. I think he needs to figure out what he’s doing, whether his heart is really in it or not. Whether he can make 155lbs or not, whether he’s going to fight welterweight, lightweight or what he’s going to do. I know that would be a fight that the fans would probably want to see because we’re both fast and explosive guys. It would definitely be a high paced fight. But there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d win that one pretty handily.”   Ferguson Riots “I watched them, unfortunately we live in a day [and age] where we get glued to the TV and watch that kind of stuff. As horrific as it is, you still want to sit there watch and hear what the news people are saying. I think we’re seeing it all over the country, this kind of uprising [against] the police officers, we’re seeing it in Baltimore. It’s a thing that is getting a lot of negative attention; I see both sides of it. It’s definitely disheartening to see, a community like Ferguson or Baltimore kind of having those types of situations going on. It’s definitely not good to see.”   Having a wife that works out with him  “It’s good; she’s very into health and fitness. It’s a huge motivator, to have somebody that pretty much has the same lifestyle that I do. She works in an ER, emergency room so she works long hours and that kind of stuff. When she does have days off, she eats right and she works out. And that’s pretty much the same thing I do. It’s cool to [have] your wife as a source of discipline. When it’s time for training camp, she almost goes into training camp with me. She eats clean and she eats healthy just like I am; there’s never any temptation [to eat junk food] around the house.  It’s works out really well and that’s one of the reasons I married her.”   Teammate Myles Jury throwing out his Reebok gear “I don’t know what Myles’ problem was with Reebok. I saw that tweet that he sent out and I immediately got scared for him because that’s a pretty bold move to take one of the title sponsors of the organization you fight for and throw it in the trash and kind of trash their name like that.”   Fighters potentially leaving the UFC due to Reebok sponsorships  “At the end of the day it is a beautiful transition we’re seeing with the fight game. Obviously Bellator having the deep pockets to be able to sign guys, we almost saw it with Gilbert Melendez and we saw it Phil Davis now. I know for sure there’s got to be some UFC guys who have one or two fights left on their contact, that kind of want to test the open market. We’ll see what happens, I don’t know of any guys personally that are personally are coming over. You see a guy like Justin Lawrence who was one a three fight win streak and was definitely going to get the opportunity to sign back with the UFC or with Bellator and he chose Bellator. It’s not a one organization type of industry. At the end of the day it’s good for fighters, because ultimately we’re going to get paid more. We’re going to get more incentives whether it be financially or better contracts or more leverage and that kind of stuff. It’s good for the sport and ultimately it’s good for the fans because a happy fighter is going to fight harder and more often.”   You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeChandlerMMA and listen to the full audio version of this interview on Episode 104 of The Parting Shot Podcast

Written by James Lynch

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