Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is with the promotion for the long-haul, after inking a new eight fight deal. The new contract is designed so Chandler can fight each season and be given a larger role as the face of the roster.
“I’ve felt very strongly for the last year or more that I think we have the best lightweight in MMA in Bellator,” said Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney to MMA Fighting. “His name is Michael Chandler. Look, Michael, both inside and outside the cage, represents this company and MMA in a great light. He had a long time left on his existing deal, but I just felt like, you know what, he’s elevated himself to a completely new level. I’m to reward what he’s done and make sure Mike is part of the Bellator family for a lot of years.”
For Chandler, he’s got a meeting signed with Season 8 tournament winner David Rickels in the near future. He’s been champion for close to two years and is 11-0. He defeated Eddie Alvarez to capture the belt in Fight of the Year for 2011. He defended it easily with a second round choke of Rick Hawn at Bellator 85, the first card to air on Spike TV.
Rickels is 14-1 and won the Season 8 tournament by two decisions and a TKO. He’s had nine Bellator fights since April 2011 and was defeated by just Karl Amoussou in May of last year.
The two meet at Bellator 97. It’s this Wednesday, July 31, and comes from the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, NM. The main card lives on Spike TV.