Michael Chandler has one of the more impressive resumes in all of Bellator MMA history.
Chandler returns to action this Friday night against Brandon Girtz in the main event of Bellator 197 on Paramount Network.
The 31-year-old will be competing in his home state of Missouri as he looks to remain right on track to challenge once more for the lightweight title. Now training out out of Boca Raton, Florida, Chandler has won the belt twice before to go along with a tournament title.
He holds the record for most championship wins in Bellator history at nine, and is also tied with A.J. McKee and Ben Askren for most consecutive wins at nine.
So, would you consider him a pioneer and member of the Bellator Mount Rushmore?
Without a doubt.
Chandler transitioned right into MMA after becoming an NCAA Div. I All-American for the University of Missouri in 2009. He was a two-time Big 12 Conference runner-up and was captain of the team for two years.
That same year, Chandler made his pro debut, scoring a first round TKO over Kyle Swadley. He signed with Strikeforce and competed twice for them, finishing Richard Bouphanouvong and Sal Woods before moving to Bellator in 2010.
Eight years and 14 wins later, Chandler is to Bellator what Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture were to the UFC all those years back.
His resume includes wins over Goiti Yamauchi, former UFC champion Benson Henderson, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, David Rickels and ex-UFC and Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez.
Chandler’s 201 fourth round finish over Alvarez is one of the keynot moments in Bellator history.
At the same time, he’s been on the wrong end of some of the more memorable fights, as well. That includes a split decision loss to Alvarez, back-to-back defeats at the hands of Will Brooks, and of course his injury vs. Brent Primus that cost him the belt.
But that is what makes Chandler so lovable. He always tries to put forth 100-percent effort, and he’s always there when Bellator needs him to be.