He was one of the best wrestlers of his generation in the US, a country where this sport is one of the most popular. In high school as well as in the University, he brilliantly distinguished himself (NCAA All Honor…). In 2009, at 23 years old, once he majored in personal finance management, Mickael Chandler got into MMA with the same success.
He wins his 6 first fights, in Strike Force and at Bellator, before the limit ! On the whole, he remains undefeated for 12 fights. In November 2011, at Bellator 58, he even conquered the lightweight belt (155 lbs) by dominating Eddie Alvarez with a submission (4th round). That’s this last one who inflicted him his 1st defeat at his 13th fight. At Bellator 106, in November 2013, Alvarez took his revenge and the belt back (decision).
Mickael Chandler lives to fight for the title in the wake but he registered the 2 other defeats of his career (for 15 victories, 13 before the gong). By 2 times, in 2014, he lost against Will Brooks, by decision and by TKO 4th round.
Since then, Mickael Chandler followed up by 3 striking wins : submission 1st round against Derek Campos, KO 2nd round against David Rickels and, for the belt, KO 1st round against Patricky Freire last June. On November 19th, it’s a champion at the summit of his shape who is going to be fight a tough name, the WEC and UFC former champion, the American Benson Henderson.
« I would really like to fight Thompson »
What fighters do you really want to be opposed to from now on ? Will Brooks ?
Will Brooks is in the UFC now, so… The biggest thing for me is to fight the biggest name guys. First, I would fight Ben Henderson. I am excited for that.
If I have my choice after that, I would like to fight George Thompson, because I haven’t finished business with him. I was supposed to fight him but he pulled out of the fight.
So I want to fight those 2 guys and, then, find another guy who is coming up in the weigh classes, whoever that is. I wouldn’t mind fight Patricio Freire. And I wouldn’t be opposed to go up to the 175 pounds class. I have possibly got some big fights in my future. I am excited to step in there.
What is you main goal from now on : keep defending the Bellator belt or fight in UFC ?
For me, UFC has been around for a long time. UFC is bigger than Bellator. But I have made a very good living for myself in fighting in Bellator. So I think I am able to provide for myself and my wife and put money away for the future. And Bellator has been generous enough to keep me around.
According to me, in the 5 next years, you will see UFC getting bigger, you will see Bellator getting bigger, you will see the all sport, Mixed Martial Arts, getting bigger.
« For me, it’s just a cool life »
UFC is still more prestigious, isn’t it ?
I think there is a misconception when people think that : “I am in Bellator so that means I couldn’t make it to UFC”. It’s wrong. I had the opportunity to go the UFC at 2 different times but I signed a contract with the Bellator for double of money that a lot of guys have being paid.
But it’s tough. Sometimes, I would like to fight in the UFC. Sometimes, I am very happy with Bellator. It’s like a rollercoaster emotion, it’s a mixed martial arts game.
What makes you stir in the Cage ? Where do you find your fun ?
For me, it’s just a… cool life. For example, I come to New York for a couple of days, doing some cool stuff with cool people, doing cool photo shoots (for adidas)… You get to enjoy a lot of cool things that a lot of people would love to do, you know.
What I do for a living is train. When time comes, training and putting my body through hard work and get the benefits of it by having a muscular body, being in shape and in my physical prime, and then, I go up on Spike TV for millions of people. And, moreover, I get paid well for what I do.
It’s a question to be able to compete. It’s a cool opportunity that I have and I have been giving some very, very great gifts. I have to give my best and it means a lot of sacrifice.
I refuse to look back on my career and say : “I wish I would have done more”. I think that’s where my motivation comes from. That’s how I keep the sport fun. I am excited about the future, about the opportunity that I get.
« I feel bigger, faster and stronger »
You are 30 years old. Do you consider yourself as a young fighter (considering that you started MMA in 2009) ?
I think I am still… You know, I have made 18 fights and I would say the mark is 25. So I am definitely getting older and wiser and more mature in the sport. But I still feel that, at 30 years old, I am just now reaching my potential. I am just now reaching and entering my prime. I feel better now, at 30 years old, that I have ever had. I feel bigger, I feel faster, I feel stronger. My body feels great. I am more excited that I have ever been.
It’s hard to even imagine myself stopping fighting anytime soon. But, I always say that I would give myself to about 35 and, then, I will really take a hard look at it and see how much damage I have done to my body, how much wealth I would be able to crew. I haven’t considered that point yet. I see myself just continue to fight for a while. So I am still considered as young in the sport.
As you come from Wrestling, did you watch the Rio Olympic Games last summer, especially Wrestling ?
Yes, I did. Watching the Olympic Games on TV is such a huge moment and it’s so cool to see all different countries. You watched it for 2 different reasons. You can say my country is better than yours, or you watch it because you believe in all the countries coming together as the big one friendly competition. The Rio Olympics were definitely cool.
Wrestling doesn’t get as much exposure as the other sports. So, I was able to see some wrestling matches but a lot were not on live. I watched it and I was happy because we got one gold medal for the US in men. And the guy I was wrestling with in college won a bronze. It was cool.
« I am always very aggressive »
Would you have loved to participate at the Games ?
When I watch it, I think it would be awesome to do it. But when I think of thousands of hours that it would take, to train, to be able to possibly make the team, and then, once you make the team, you may go to the Olympics. It would be awesome.
But I think the life I get to live, for my wife and myself, is a lot of more interesting that it would be for wrestlers. Wrestlers in the US… I did it in college. You have your coach, you work for tons of hours, you go to tournaments and you are very low salary. Those guys just do it for their love of the sport.
So, for me, I like the mixed martial arts. I love the living I can make. And I am happy to be doing what I am doing.
What was the most difficult thing to work when you came from Wrestling to MMA, technically speaking ?
Technically, I got on to the striking pretty quick. I got on to the grappling pretty quick too. More than anything, it was difficult for the physical stuff, the mental preparation. In wrestling, you only wrestle for 7 minutes, a 3 minutes period and then 2 minutes and 2 minutes. A regular fight is more than double that time. It’s 15 minutes. For a title fight, it’s even 25 minutes.
I am a kind of guy who fights very hard. I am always very aggressive so I have learnt how to pace myself a little bit more, I learnt to not go out there and go crazy, when to pull down, when to pull back…
It happened in my fights when I really get tired and all your techniques go out through the window because you are so tired. Going hard for 7 minutes in wrestling is a lot easier that fighting 3 rounds of 5 minutes.
« I want to take care of my wife »
What do you like to do besides MMA ? What are your hobbies ?
Right now, I spend about half a year in training camp. And, when I am in training camp, even if I am with my wife, I am not giving her my full attention because I focus on the tasks. If I am not with her, which occurs most of the time in training camp, she is San Diego, I am in Arizona,
We spent a lot of time apart, so, for me, in between fights and camps, I just really want to travel a lot with her. I want to serve her, I want to take care of her, I want to do fun stuff we don’t get to do half a year when I am training. Between fights, I want to please her, whatever she wants to do, wherever she wants to go, we go.
This life of fighters is not an easy one all the time. You always train, you always make sacrifices. I missed many big days with her, I missed all kind of friends’ weddings and birthday parties, I missed many Christmas. The sport takes a lot of sacrifices.
Born on April 24th, 1986
Country : USA
Height : 5 ft 8 in
Category : 155 lbs (70 kg)
Team : Power MMA Team
15 victories (13 before gong), 3 defeats. 2 times Bellator champion (2011-2013, 2015-…)