Michael Chandler (11-0) won’t be heading to the UFC Octagon anytime soon because today he signed an eight -fight deal with Bellator according to MMAJunkie.com. Bellator President Bjorn Rebney also declared that his Bellator Lightweight Champion is now one of the highest paid 155’ers in the business. Who knows what the exact amount of zeroes will be on the paycheck, but this must be great news for Chandler who only had about a year left on his existing deal and is one week out from defending his title against Season 8 tournament winner David Rickels (14-1).
Michael Chandler now one of MMA’s highest-paid lightweights
Michael Chandler is considered to be a top five lightweight on most MMA rankings. The news is surprising as many thought the next step in his career would be the UFC. However, having seen the public feud between Bellator and the man he took the title from in Eddie Alvarez, Chandler is happy Bjorn Rebney decided to re-up the current champ with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It’s one of those things where it just feels right,” Chandler told MMAJunkie.com. “This deal, the negotiations and the meetings and the talks, everything was playing itself out, and it felt right. I felt that this was the right move to make. I love fighting in Bellator. They put a lot of faith in me, and they’re using me a ton for advertising and continuing to sign top talent. I can guarantee they’re going to continue to sign more and bigger talent. For me, it’s just about continuing to fight. I want to continue to go out there and dominate and show my friends and family, my fans, how hard I’ve been working.”
This is a big signing for Bellator as they continue to try and build an organization with some stability. Rebney has been adamant that they will build stars and that Bellator is not a stepping stone for the UFC, and had the following to say in the official press release announcing Chandler’s re-signing.
Newport Beach, CA. (July 25th, 2013) – As Michael Chandler prepares to defend his Bellator Lightweight Title on July 31st live on Spike, the promotion announced today an eight fight extension with the top ranked lightweight to keep the undefeated Alliance MMA product with Bellator.
“In all my years in combat sports, I’ve never seen the growth and development in a fighter like we’ve all witnessed with Michael Chandler,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I believe Michael is the best lightweight in MMA. And, given that, I felt it was paramount to keep Michael at Bellator for the long term. Both inside and outside the cage, Michael is a tremendous representative for our Bellator. And, now as one of the highest paid lightweights in MMA, he’s without question earned that distinction.”
A former University of Missouri Wrestling standout, Chandler wasted no time turning heads with Bellator, finishing his first two opponents before getting a taste of The Toughest Tournament in Sports. Chandler continued his winning ways, storming through the Lightweight Tournament with decisive victories over Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Pitbull, earning Chandler a title shot against then Bellator Champion Eddie Alvarez. What followed was the unanimous fight of the year candidate as Chandler and Alvarez engaged in what can only be described as an epic battle between two of the sports best pound for pound athletes, with Chandler eventually capturing gold with a submission victory deep into the 4th round. The win propelled Chandler into elite status, and the new Bellator Lightweight Champion continued his dominance over Akihiro Gono and Rick Hawn. Now set to defend his title against David “The Caveman” Rickels on July 31st, Chandler looks to continue his stranglehold on the lightweight division for years to come.
“Since I signed with Bellator back in 2010, Bjorn laid out a plan for me of how he saw my career progressing and what type of levels we could reach together, and everything has come true,” Chandler said. “I couldn’t be happier with the situation I’m in right now. Bellator is my home, it’s where I want to be, and it’s where I’m going to continue to defend my belt. Over the last few months you’ve continued to see Bellator go out and sign some of the best talent in the world, and the tournaments continue to be loaded with talent that I’m ready to take on. I believe in this format and what Bellator is doing, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. My focus right now is solely on David Rickels, and making sure we put on a show July 31st.”
For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA
About Bellator MMA
Bellator MMA is the world’s largest tournament based Mixed Martial Arts organization. Televised to nearly 500 Million homes worldwide in over 115 countries, Bellator’s majority owner is entertainment giant Viacom. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on Spike TV, the MMA television leader. With over 150 world-class athletes under contract, Bellator is home to many of the sport’s top mixed martial artists. Bellator’s founder & CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment executive with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator’s core philosophy is that title shots should be earned, not given. This belief gave rise to Bellator’s real sport, tournament-based format, which gives Bellator’s tournaments a true playoff feel that keeps the sport true and distances itself from the subjective side of fighting sports found in organizations that utilize a matchmaking/casting formula. Bellator MMA is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Newport Beach, California.
Chandler vs. Rickels is set for Bellator 97 this Wednesday night in in Rio Rancho, N.M. and you can watch it live on Spike TV. MMASucka.com will have all the live highlights.