Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus is also surprised that he’s not fighting Michael Chandler next.
Primus took the 155-pound belt away from Chandler in June, but most fans expected Bellator to book a rematch after an anticlimactic finish at Madison Square Garden, when the former champion suffered an injury in the opening round.
Chandler will return to action on Jan. 20 against Goiti Yamauchi, and Primus didn’t see that coming — especially since he claims that the promotion called him with a date and location for the rematch: Bellator 193 in Temecula, Calif., on Jan. 26.
“I’m really surprised, especially because about a month ago I got a call from Bellator and I had a date and a time to fight Chandler,” Primus told MMA Fighting. “I waited a week for the contract and then they called me and said ‘Chandler declined a rematch and he’s gonna fight at 170.’ I was like ‘so he’s declining a title fight to go to 170?’ And they were ‘yeah, he doesn’t want to fight you right now.’ That’s how that went.
“You texted me today saying he’s fighting Yamauchi and that was total shock. I was just thinking ‘he has a chance to fight me for the belt and now he’s gonna fight someone in the same weight class as me?’ It’s weird.”
At the end of the day, Primus just wonders why Chandler would turn down a title shot and a chance to avenge his latest loss.
“I’m not gonna assume or put words in his mouth. I have no idea,” he said. “You guys put all the steps together. I was ready to fight, for some reason and he’s not.”
Although Primus wasn’t campaigning for a rematch, he says he was open to the idea since that seemed to be the fight fans wanted the most.
“Honestly, I don’t care,” Primus said. “I know that I finished Chandler. I know there’s controversy, but I know that my leg kick caused the nerve damage. My cornerman knows it, his cornerman knows it, the doctors know it. I know what happened. For me there’s no controversy. I have nothing to prove. But fans want to see a rematch? I was 100 percent down for it. I’m the champion and I wanna fight the best.
“It’s crazy that me and him were supposed to fight in a rematch and I find out that he’s fighting before me. I’m the champion, I should be fighting and defending this belt.”
The lightweight says he’s ready to start a training camp, and it was “really frustrating” to wait for Chandler to heal from the injury to find out that the rematch is not happening.
Primus now targets to defend his belt in the first quarter of 2018, and says Bellator has two names in mind for his next fight.
“I’m not exactly sure who it is,” Primus said. “I’ve got told two names in the lightweight division that I’m gonna be fighting next, so I’m just waiting on Bellator to decide which one of those names it is. (Patricky Freire) ‘Pitbull’ is one of those names, it’s a possibility, so I’m just waiting.”