Cheick Kongo Says “Experience In Bellator Is Way Better” Than When He Was In The UFC

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Bellator 115 takes place tonight from the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The main event features Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov defending his title for the first time against Cheick Kongo.

On today’s podcast we talk to Kongo. We discuss the keys to the fight with Minakov, why his experience in Bellator is better than when he was in the UFC, being at the “Sabotage” movie premiere, MMA in France and more.

You can watch tonight’s main card of Bellator 115 on Spike TV starting at 9 p.m. ET.

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Gilbert Melendez Agrees To A Deal With Bellator; UFC Can Match The Offer

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UFC President Dana White stated earlier in the week on “UFC Tonight” that he was done with the negotiations involving Gilbert Melendez. White said that if Melendez wants a deal done to stay in the UFC, call UFC CEO Lorenzo Fetitta and if the situation didn’t improve, Melendez better start looking for a new fight promotion.

Melendez took that advice as he agreed to a multi-fight and multi-year deal with Bellator. The UFC does have the right to match the offer, but how long they have is unknown at this time. The former Strikeforce lightweight champion is 1-1 in the UFC with a loss to former lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC on Fox 7 last April by a controversial split decision and defeated Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate at UFC 166 in October.

“The moment Gil was legally able to explore the free agent market, Gil’s management team reached out to me and we began figuring out how to bring Gil to Bellator,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said in a press release.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been a big ‘El Nino’ fan for many years. Gil was one of the first fighters I tried to sign when I launched Bellator back in 2008, and he’s grown and developed into one of the best and most exciting lightweights on earth. Gil has a vision for what he wants to accomplish both inside and outside the cage and we can help make his vision a reality. We are in the business of developing and showcasing the greatest fighters on earth. That’s what we intend to do here with Gil and it’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

Melendez made a statement on Twitter saying what went down.

Will the UFC match Bellator’s offer?

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Rampage Jackson’s Bellator Debut Proves To Be A Ratings Success

rampage bellator 108A lot of buzz was surrounding the Bellator debut of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson this past Friday at Bellator 108. Jackson was supposed to make his debut for the organization at Bellator 106 on November 2nd against Tito Ortiz, but Ortiz had to bow out of the fight due to a neck injury. Ortiz was replaced by Joey Beltran.

Bellator 108 drew an average of 793,000 viewers, which was the second highest rating of the season behind Bellator 106 featuring the Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez lightweight title fight. The Jackson vs Beltran fight drew 1.1 million viewers with the fight peaking at 1.2 million viewers. The fight had Jackson defeating Beltran by knockout with seconds remaining in the first round.

The last Bellator event of the season takes place on Friday night in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with a main event of Alexander Shlemenko vs Doug Marshall for the Bellator middleweight title and two tournament finals featuring Will Brooks vs Alexander Sarnavskiy in the lightweight final and Rick Hawn vs Ron Keslar in the welterweight tournament final.

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Tito Ortiz Suffers A Neck Injury, Out Of Bellator Pay-Per-View Main Event Against Rampage Jackson

According to MMAFighting.com, Tito Ortiz has suffered a neck injury and is out of his main event fight against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson next Saturday.

The report states that Ortiz suffered the neck injury in training. As of this current time, Bellator is looking for a replacement to face Jackson and it is unknown if Jackson will still be on the card.

The article also states that Bellator is considering moving the entire card over to Spike TV with Jackson.

Ortiz sent out a strange tweet a few hours ago that showed that the fight with Jackson was in question.

BetweenTheRopes.com has reached out to a representative of Ortiz, but have received no comment at this time.

We will keep you updated on the situation as news becomes available.

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The Good, The Bad And The Dirty In The Week Of MMA

We are going to be doing different types of pieces here on the website on a variety of topics in MMA and pro wrestling. Today we are going to debut a new feature called the good, the bad and the dirty. Every Monday we will be doing this type of piece in MMA. Now we know what the good and bad means, but the dirty can mean really bad or really good. Let’s get started.

The Good

1) Renan Barao- Barao made the second defense of his interim UFC bantamweight championship when he defeated Eddie Wineland by KO in the second round with spectacular spinning back kick to the head on Saturday at UFC 165. The Brazilian became the first person to defend an interim UFC title two times. During the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White said that Barao is the closest thing in the UFC to Floyd Mayweather. With the win, Barao extended his winning streak to 21. White stated that Barao would face UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in early 2014. If Cruz is unable to return in early 2014 from his two ACL surgeries, then Barao would get the interim title tag removed.

2) Khabib Nurmagomedov- Nurmagomedov extended his winning streak to 21 when he defeated Pat Healy by unanimous decision to kick off the main card at UFC 165. He tied Barao for the longest winning streak in MMA. “The Eagle” put on a tremendous performance using his improved striking and took Healy down anytime he wanted too. We really didn’t know how Nurmagomedov would perform considering this was his first time on a pay-per-view main card and facing a veteran of 57 fights in Healy. The Russian stated during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he wanted a title shot next.

3) Douglas Lima- The Bellator welterweight had one of the most vicious knockouts in 2013 when he knocked out Ben Saunders with a vicious head kick at Bellator 100 to win the welterweight tournament. What’s next for Lima is unknown since the current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren is a free agent at this time.

The Bad

3) Francis Carmont vs Costa Philippou- This was the second fight on the main card of UFC 165 on Saturday. It wasn’t the most entertaining fight on the card as Carmont kept taking down Philippou, but really wasn’t trying to improve position to win the fight. The crowd was booing loudily as Phillipou had no answer for Carmont’s takedowns. Philippou was visibly frustrated in between rounds, looked like he didn’t want to be there and looked defeated. Dana White agreed with the crowd as he tweeted about the fight.

 

Carmont won the fight by unanimous decision, but didn’t win over any fans and Dana White with the victory.

The Dirty

4) Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson- This is a dirty in a great way. The main event was hyped as “Greatness Within Reach” and the hype sure delivered. Jones was 9-1 favorite heading into the fight and not many people giving Gustafsson any chance to win. We picked Gustafsson to win and were pretty close in our prediction. The fight went back and forth as “The Mauler” established early in the fight that he had the striking advantage as he used his jab and trademark uppercut effectively as he opened up Jones with the uppercut. Gustafsson started stuffing Jones’ takedowns and even took the champion down in the first round.

The challenger was stuffing Jones’ takedowns throughout the fight, which was visibly frustrating the champion. The man from Sweden was controlling the fight on feet moving in and out. Jones’s started to find his groove in the fourth round landing vicious elbows and imposing his will on the challenger. The fifth round started with the crowd on their feet and the fight very close. Both guys were visibly exhausted to start the round and Jones finally was able to land a takedown, but Gustafsson got up a few moments later. Both guys were trading shots even though they were extremely exhausted to end the fight.

The judges scored the fight for Jones (48-47×2,49-46). The crowd was mixed with the decision. A lot of people thought Jones won and a lot of people thought Gustafsson won. BetweenTheRopes.com scored the fight 48-47 for Gustafsson. Both men didn’t attend the press conference as Jones was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and Gustafsson was able to go under his own power.

Dana White was non-committal about a rematch, but from the tone of his voice makes it likely we will see a rematch in the next fight for both guys. This was without a doubt the fight of the year and the greatest fight in the history of the light heavyweight division.

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Joe Warren Not Allowed To Compete in Co-Feature Of Bellator 98

It was announced a short time ago by Bellator MMA that former featherweight champion Joe Warren wasn’t medically cleared to fight at Bellator 98 tomorrow night. The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation deemed Warren unable to compete. Warren’s condition wasn’t revealed to us at this time.

The former champion was scheduled to fight Nick Kirk tomorrow night at Bellator 98. Kirk has been pulled from the card as well.

Warren was a coach on Bellator MMA’s reality show, “Fight Master” and no plans were announced by the organization as to if and when this fight will take place. Belltor MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney released a statement regarding Warren not being able to compete.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with one of the best commissioners in the sport in Mike Mazzulli, and after carefully reviewing Joe’s medical documents, everyone agreed to err on the side of caution with the goal of ensuring our fighters safety. It was determined Joe would be unable to compete this Saturday at Mohegan Sun. Joe’s been with us since the beginning and as is the case with every fighter here, it’s incumbent on me to ensure Joe is 100% healthy and medically cleared to fight before he steps into the Bellator cage.”

Bellator 98 takes place tomorrow night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn, with the main card airs on Spike TV following the prelims on Spike.com.

Here is the revised card of Bellator 98:

MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 8 p.m. ET)
•Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper – for middleweight title
•Andreas Spang vs. Justin Torrey – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
•Perry Filkins vs. Jeremy Kimball – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
•Mikkel Parlo vs. Brian Rogers – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
•Jason Butcher vs. Giva Santana – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
•Derek Anderson vs. Patricky Freire

PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 6 p.m. ET)
•Mike Mucitelli vs. Jeff Nader
•Brennan Ward vs. Dave Vitkay
•Andrew Calandrelli vs. Ryan Quinn
•Matt Bessette vs. Nick Piedmont
•Glenn Allaire vs. Rico DiSciullo
•Josh Diekmann vs. Parker Porter

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Bellator MMA’s Fight Master Finale Postponed

The return of Bellator MMA is this coming Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Unfortunately the card lost a big fight. It was reported by SI.com and confirmed by BetweenTheRopes.com that the Bellator MMA Reality SHow: Fight Mastewr finale is postponed due to an eye injury suffered by Joe Riggs in training about three weeks ago.

Riggs tweeted a photo of his eye earlier today.

The finale was supposed to feature Riggs facing off with Mike Bronzoulis. No date has been announced as to when the fight will take place.

The main event of this Saturday’s card will feature Alexander Shlemenko facing Brett Cooper for the Bellator MMA middleweight title with the co-main event featuring former Bellator MMA featherweight champion Joe Warren battling Nick Kirk. You can catch the main card starting at 8 p.m. ET on Spike TV.

Here is the rest of the card for Bellator 98:

MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 8 p.m. ET)
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper – for middleweight title
Joe Warren vs. Nick Kirk – bantamweight tournament opening round
Andreas Spang vs. Justin Torrey – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
Perry Filkins vs. Jeremy Kimball – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
Mikkel Parlo vs. Brian Rogers – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
Jason Butcher vs. Giva Santana – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round

PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 6 p.m. ET)
Derek Anderson vs. Patricky Freire
Mike Mucitelli vs. Jeff Nader
Brennan Ward vs. Dave Vitkay
Andrew Calandrelli vs. Ryan Quinn
Matt Bessette vs. Nick Piedmont
Glenn Allaire vs. Rico DiSciullo
Josh Diekmann vs. Parker Porter

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Bellator News: Attila Vegh Says Bellator MMA Is Lying About His Injury To Setup King Mo/Emmaunel Newton Fight

Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh was scheduled to defend his title against Emmanuel Newton later this year. The organization released a press release on August 15th stating that Vegh had suffered a shoulder injury and Newton would be facing Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at Bellator’s first pay-per-view for the interim light heavyweight championship.

No one really thought too much of Vegh being injured as it happens in the sport. Until now.

Vegh did an interview with Tomasz Marciniak of MMARocks.pl and told Marciniak that he isn’t injured at all. Here is what Vegh told Marciniak:

“It’s about business on Bellator’s side. People want to see the rematch between King Mo and Newton. That’s why my fight is postponed to January and I’ll face the winner of the November’s fight. I’m not injured, I’m perfectly fine.

“It may be caused by the fact that I’m a foreign fighter, I’m not an American. American people want to see their fighters, but I want give them my belt for free.”

The native of Slovakia hasn’t fought since February when he defeated Christian M’Pumbu at Bellator 91 to win the light heavyweight championship.

The first PPV for Bellator MMA will be Saturday, November 2 from the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California. The main event will feature Tito Ortiz against Quinto “Rampage” Jackson with Michael Chandler defending his lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez, with the aforementioned Lawal vs Newton bout and Pat Curran putting his featherweight title on the line against Daniel Straus.

BetweenTheRopes.com has tried to reach Bellator MMA officials, but have not heard from them at this time of this piece.

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Bellator MMA Adds Another Title Fight For Their Inaugral PPV

Bellator MMA is really making a splash as the organization gets ready to make their PPV debut. The organization announced today that Bellator MMA featherweight champion Pat Curran will look to make his third straight title defense as he faces off with Daniel Straus for a second time at Bellator 106 on November 2.

Curran has fought two times already in 2013 defeating Patricio Freire and Shahbulat Shamhalaev. The top five featherweight is excited to face Straus again and very excited to fight on pay-per-view.

“I’ve been with Bellator since the beginning, and seen my career grow as Bellator has,” Curran said. “It means the world to me to be able to defend my title on our first Pay-Per-View, especially with such a tough fight ahead of me. I’m not taking Straus lightly. He is an incredibly tough featherweight, and I’m not even thinking about our first fight in 2009, we are two totally different guys right now. This card is stacked, and I want to give Bellator and all our fans a great show.”

Straus won the Season Six tournament to get his shot at Curran. The fight was supposed to take place earlier this year, but Straus broke his hand and then went through some legal troubles.

The challenger is looking forward to finally match up with Curran and knows he is a different than the first time they squared off.

“It’s finally here. I’ve faced so many setbacks over the last year, and my title shot is finally here,” Straus said. “When Pat and I met in 2009, we were two completely different fighters. Both of us have developed so much in that time, but I still want that loss of my record. That fight taught me a lot about where I was as a fighter, especially considering I’ve gone 17-1 since we last met. I’m just excited to be able to get a chance to fight for a title on a huge stage like this. I really don’t know how this fight is going to end, but I envision it going quickly. This won’t be a long, drawn out process. I’m going in for the kill.”

Curran and Straus squared off at the Chicago promotion XFO in 2009, with Curran winning by knockout.

Bellator 106 takes place Saturday, November 2 at the Long Beach Arena in Long beach, California. The card is headlined by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson facing Tito Ortiz, with Michael Chandler versus Eddie Alvarez for the Bellator MMA lightweight championship in the co-feature.

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UFC News: Jessica Eye Talks Leaving Bellator And Signing With The UFC

On today’s podcast, Steve talks to top-ranked women’s fighter, UFC women’s bantamweight fighter Jessica Eye. “Evil” discusses what led to her no longer being with Bellator MMA, what organizations talked to her right after her release from Bellator and what led Eye to signing with the UFC.

Eye also tells Steve if Sarah Kaufman is the next opponent, how soon she wants to face the winner of Ronda Rousey/Miesha Tate, who her favorite football team is and much more.

Follow Jessica Eye on Twitter @jessicaevileye.

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UFC Signs Top Ranked Women’s Fighter Jessica Eye

It was reported on Tuesday’s edition of “UFC Tonight” that top ranked 125 pounds women’s fighter Jessica Eye has signed a deal with the UFC fight at 135 pounds. Eye released a statement on twitter a short time later confirming the report.

Eye last competed under the Bellator MMA banner where she went 3-0 in the promotion. “Evil” last fought in June when she defeated Carina Damm for NAAFS promotion. Eye’s most notable win came in December when defeated former Bellator MMA 115 pound champion Zoila Gurgel by first round submission in 58 seconds.

Eye was released by Bellator MMA recently when the organization had decided that it wasn’t going to promote women’s fights at this current time.

It has been rumored that Eye will square off against Sarah Kaufman at UFC 166 on October 19, but the UFC hasn’t confirmed that matchup at this time.

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Jessica Aguilar and Jessica Eye Get Their Releases From Bellator MMA

From the way things are looking, it seems like we may not be seeing a women fighting in Bellator MMA anytime soon. The promotion has released top ranked fighters Jessica Aguilar and Jessica Eye.

Both ladies confirmed their releases on Twitter earlier today.

Aguilar went 5-1 under Bellator and defeated quite arguable the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time in Megumi Fuji at Bellator 69 last May. “Jag” last competed in the organization at Bellator 94 when she defeated Patricia Vidonic.

Eye went undefeated in three fights for Bellator defeating former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel at Bellator 83 last December.

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Eddie Alvarez Resigns With Bellator, Faces Michael Chander At Bellator PPV

The contract squabble with Eddie Alvarez and Bellator MMA is finally over. Alvarez and Bellator MMA have agreed to a new contract and Alvarez will get a chance to avenge his only loss in the organization, as he will face lightweight champion Michael Chandler in the co-main event of Bellator MMA’s first PPV at Bellator 106 on November 2.

Alvarez and Chandler met in November of 2011 in what a lot of people thought was the best of 2011, with Chandler stopping Alvarez in the fourth round to become the Bellator MMA lightweight champion. Since then Chandler has remained undefeated and defended his title on two occasions. Chandler feels very confident heading into the rematch.

“Without sounding too disrespectful, when I fought Eddie the first time in 2011, I didn’t even know what it meant to be an MMA fighter,” Chandler said. “Two years later, I’ve grown so much as a mixed martial artist, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind on November 2nd, my hand will be raised and the belt will be around my waist. I have full confidence that I can take this fight wherever I want, whenever I want because I didn’t even show much of my wrestling in that last fight and I was able to beat him just with my standup. My ground game has always been there, and I’ve taken my striking to a whole new level since the last time we met. I feel like I have more experience under my belt, I’m wiser, stronger, and have had so much time in the gym trying to become the best fighter I can be.”

Eddie Alvarez and Bellator had been in a contract dispute since October of 2012 with Bellator MMA allegedly matching the offer the UFC made to Alvarez. But Alvarez had disputed that Bellator MMA had matched every term of the deal, especially in regards to Bellator MMA being able to put on a PPV since the organization had never done a PPV show.

The former lightweight champion says he is ready to regain his title on November 2.

“I still lose sleep over my loss to Chandler, and I want it off my record,” Alvarez remarked. “This was a long process, but at the end of the day I’m back with Bellator and I’m happy to get back in the cage. I really believe everything happens for a reason, and at the end of the day my family and I are happy, and I’m ready to get my belt back on November 2nd.”

Bellator 106 takes place on November 2 from the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California. The main event of the event is Rampage Jackson facing off with Tito Ortiz.

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Tito Ortiz Revealed As The #August1Warning

TNA Wrestling had been hyping up who the #August1Warning would be. Rumors had circulated it could be the likes of Bill Goldberg, Dave Bautista, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Bob Holly and Adam Pearce. We got the reveal, but it wasn’t a pro wrestler.

The reveal was former UFC light heavyweight champion and the newest signee in Bellator MMA, Tito Ortiz. Throughout tonight’s episode of TNA’s Impact Wrestling, it was teased as who the person would be.

During the final segment of the show, The Main Event Mafia, which consists of Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Sting, Rampage Jackson and Magnus came out to challenge the Aces and Eights to a match. A brawl ensued between the two factions, when the lights went out and when they came back on, Ortiz was walking down the ramp.

The wrestlers were shocked especially Jackson and then the show went off the air.

This isn’t the first time we have seen Tito Ortiz in TNA. Ortiz made some appearances in 2005 including a special referee position on a pay-per-view, which was during a time he wasn’t with the UFC.

It was announced yesterday by Bellator MMA that Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson will headline the organization’s first take into pay-per-view on November 2 in Long Beach, California.

The logic would seem here that we will be seeing cross promotion between Bellator and TNA to hype the pay-per-view bout. This has never been tried before, so we could get a good indication if the crossover appeal will be effective.

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Bellator 97 Video Highlights: Chandler and Askren Continue Their Dominance

Bellator 97 took place last night at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M.

The main card opened with Patricio Freire knocked out Jared Downing in the second round.

Then two Summer Series tournament finals took place as Ryan Martinez won the heavyweight tournament as he defeated Vitaly Minakov by a third round TKO. King Mo came out to show why he was a big time signing to Bellator as he defeated Jacob Noe to win the light heavyweight tournament when he won by verbal submission in the third round.

Bellator then closed the show with two title fights as welterweight champion Ben Askren continues to show why he’s growing as the one of the best welterweights in the world as he defeated Andrey Koreshkov by fourth round TKO. In the main event, lightweight champion Michael Chandler continued his path of destruction as he knocked out David Rickels 44 seconds into the fight.

Check out the video above of the highlights of Bellator 97.

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Between The Ropes Podcast: Bellator 97 Preview

On today’s podcast we preview Bellator MMA 97 as the event takes place tonight from Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The card features two title fights as Michael Chandler defends his Bellator lightweight title against David Rickels and Ben Askren defends his welterweight title against Andrey Koreshkov.

Also two tournament finals take place as Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal squares off with Jacob Noe in the light heavyweight finals and Ryan Martinez faces off with Vitaly Minakov in the heavyweight finals.

We talk to MMAMania.com writer Brian Hemminger as we break down tonight’s card.

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Video: Bellator 97 Preview

Bellator MMA returns tonight with the final Summer Series event as Bellator 97 takes place tonight at the Santa Ana Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the main card airs on Spike TV at 7 p.m. ET following the preliminary card on Spike.com at 6 p.m. ET.

The card features two title fights as Michael Chandler defends his Bellator lightweight title against David Rickels and Ben Askren defends his welterweight title against Andrey Koreshkov.

Also two tournament finals take place as Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal squares off with Jacob Noe in the light heavyweight finals and Ryan Martinez faces off with Vitaly Minakov in the heavyweight finals.

Watch the video above for a preview of tonight’s card.

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Michael Chandler and Bellator MMA Agree To Long Term Contract

Michael Chandler wanted to stay in Bellator MMA and Bellator MMA wanted Michael Chandler to stay in Bellator MMA. Both sides got what they wanted.

Bellator MMA announced in a press release that Chandler has signed an eight fight extension to remain with the organization.

Chandler had around one year left on his deal, but wanted to remain with Bellator.

“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.”

Chandler defeated the likes of Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Pitbull before winning the Bellator MMA lightweight champion by defeating top ten lightweight Eddie Alvarez in November of 2011.

Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney was very happy to be able to keep one of the top lightweights in MMA in his organization.

“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.”

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