As the news broke (today) that Eddie Alvarez has re-signed with Bellator (terms not released), it has taken no time for his November 2nd opponent, Michal Chandler, to pipe-up and let his feeling be known regarding Alvarez and their upcoming bout / re-match.
As any who have followed Bellator over the last few years knows, Chandler and Alvarez had a knock-down, drag-out, barn-burner of a 4 round fight back in 2011 for the Bellator lightweight title; a bout that saw Chandler exit the cage with the win and what was, Alvarez’s strap.
Since that night, Chandler has had 3 fights with 2 title defense and in doing so, has won all three bouts by way of stoppage (KO, TKO & submission) and with none of the opponents making it past the second round.
On the other hand, Alvarez has fought twice post his loss to Chandler (last bout October of 2012), with both fights being finished in the 1rst round (KO, TKO).
In short, both fighters are of a high-caliber, considerable quality and known for delivering exciting fights with finishes. As they also have a history together and the one (Chandler) still holds the same belt that he rested from his opponent waist 2 years ago, this is hands-down the most important and interesting fight and title fight, that Bellator could put on or has to offer.
However, will it be a repeat of their first fight and according to Chandler, the answer to that question is no.
In speaking with “MMAJunkie.com Radio” Chandler said:
"My goal is to go out there and finish him a lot quicker than the last fight (Bellator 58). I don't think this fight is going to be as highly contested as it was the first time. I've gotten a ton better… I think Alvarez threw every single thing he had at me, so I think he's got that in the back of his mind. He's going to need to bring a baseball bat into that cage to get me on the ground. That's the confidence that I have.”
In particular, Chandler, who took to MMA from a wrestling background and had no stand-up training prior to 2009, feels that he has grown and improved tremendously since the pair’s first meeting. Of that bout, Chandler said the he “didn’t even know how to fight” and that since then he’s worked diligently to develop a technical game. Of it, Chandler stated:
"The speed of my hands has gotten faster. I think the power of my hands has gotten harder, has increased, and it's just the confidence that I bring into the cage. ... I'm not going to say that I hold the advantage anywhere, but I think I am the better fighter now, two years later especially."
Chandler, who is a decent and eminently likable fellow, says that for all the interest in the fight that he hasn’t thought about it (the bout) much and that he has no personal animosities towards Alvarez. That said, he knows the fans loved and have remembered their first meeting, and have longed to see a re-match between the two. Of it Chandler remarked:
"We're always going to be connected, and now this is just another part of that kind of bond that we have. We don't know each other, but we fought each other once in 2011 or whatever it was. People have been talking about it ever since, so this is going to be a great time to just go out there and put on a great show for the fans."
Come November 2nd the fans will get their wish. The shame of this fight is that it won’t be the top of the card and that it won’t be on TV for free, as has been the Bellator norm.