Whether Michael Chandler wants it or not, he could be headed towards another title fight.
Though it sounds like Chandler has moved on from chasing a second crack at rival Brent Primus, the man who became Bellator lightweight champion when Chandler was felled by ankle injury during their bout last June, company president Scott Coker sees that rematch potentially taking place in the near future depending on how Chandler’s bout with Goiti Yamauchi plays out this Saturday at Bellator 192.
Primus is currently taking time off to care for his newborn child and Coker expects him to be ready to defend his title when he returns.
“We actually were talking to try and put that (Chandler) fight together,” Coker said on The MMA Hour on Monday. “My understanding is that Primus, he and his wife had a baby and that he wasn’t available for some amount of time and Michael wants to fight now so we put this fight (vs. Yamauchi) together and the winner will fight Primus in the next fight, which we’re going to try to make that happen in a short amount of time. It’s not going to be six-to-eight months down the road.”
Coker’s response at least partially confirms Chandler’s account of the situation. The two-time Bellator lightweight champion has denied Primus’s claim that it is Chandler who turned down the rematch, an accusation that appeared to sour Chandler on the idea of fighting Primus again regardless of the circumstances.
“I asked for the fight in October at Mohegan Sun. I asked for it in November at Penn State. I asked for it in December overseas,” Chandler said during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. “But I am a professional fighter, I am a prize fighter. I’m not going to sit around and wait for somebody who, he himself just had a child and he’s on maternity leave right now, so he just wants to sit around and not do anything. So I’m not going to wait.
“I have a lot bigger fish to fry and a lot bigger things to do than wait around for somebody who honestly just doesn’t want to take a fight. I don’t know what his reasoning is besides he’s just busy, but you know me well. I’ve been fighting for eight years, he has been fighting for eight years — he has eight fights, I have 20 fights. I’ve fought injured. I’ve called out the biggest names in the division and the division above me. So you know what the real truth is in this scenario.”
Chandler would later add, “I don’t need to have the belt around my waist. I walk into a room, (Primus) walks into a room — who do you think is getting the attention? If I walk into a room, he walks into a room with the belt over his shoulder, people would just be wondering, saying, ‘He’s just one of those fans who got one of those Bellator belts. Where’d you get that Bellator belt? Are you going to have Chandler sign it? That’s cool, man.’”
Should Chandler defeat Yamauchi and move on to a bout with Primus, it will be his 10th time competing in a championship bout for Bellator. Yamauchi, 25, is 3-0 with three first-round submission victories since moving up to lightweight last June and he is seeking his first shot at Bellator gold.