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Michael Chandler goes off on Bellator champ Will Brooks, says he’s the ‘epitome of a bad employee’

Michael Chandler may not have Bellator’s lightweight belt right now, but he does have a couple of things working for him: A "big" new contract with the Viacom-owned promotion on the table, and a newfound attitude.

The 29-year-old Chandler  is already being called out by the likes of recently signed free agents like Josh Thomson. Given that Chandler is a former champion — with the belt now residing with Will Brooks, who defeated Chandler twice in 2014 — that particular call out struck some as odd. Why not call out the champion?

Chandler was not one of those who couldn’t understand. In fact, he sees a lot of reasons to ignore Brooks, whom he considers not only a boring fighter but as a whiner to boot.

"No I’m not [surprised], I mean, who’s the bigger fight?" he said during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "I mean, there might be a belt on the line but, who’s the bigger fight? How many eyeballs are going to tune in to see Will Brooks fight? The proof is in the pudding, the proof is in the numbers that the guy doesn’t really move the needle. And then you couple that with the fact that guy is…I mean, we just got done talking about being a great employee, whether you’re a fighter, or whether you’re working for whatever company you are. But he’s the epitome of a bad employee, just constantly trashing the promotion, constantly questioning the decisions people make in it, and constantly, quite frankly, whining. You know, ‘I’m this, I’m that — why’s he getting this, why’s he getting that?’"

Chandler said that he disagrees with Brooks’ constant griping about Bellator favoring its latest acquisitions over its stable of veterans.

"The fact that he came out and said something about, Bellator doesn’t care about the guys that they have on the roster, they only care about the new guys coming in…man, I am the epitome of an OG in this Bellator division, right?" Chandler said. "I’ve been in this promotion since 2009, when I fought in front of 17 people on FOX Deportes, right, at two in the morning, after a girl’s softball game. That was the kind of slots we were getting on TV, and now here we are on SPIKE TV.

"I’ve been with this promotion since the dark days, and now I’m about to sign my second big deal with the promotion. Not many times in a fighter’s career does he get to sign one big deal, with signing bonuses and incentives and big numbers and this and that. Now I’m on my second, and I’m only 29 years old. And it’s not necessarily the longest-term deal that anybody’s ever signed, either. It’s a testament to being a great employee."

Chandler lost to Brooks initially when Brooks stepped in for Eddie Alvarez on late notice Bellator 120. That was for the interim title. Brooks then more emphatically beat Chandler six months later at Bellator 131, winning via fourth-round TKO. Since that time Chandler has responded with two victories — a resounding TKO of Dave Rickels and a submission over Derek Campos.

Given his track record, Chandler still sees himself as the more tempting target for people like Thomson — and eventually for somebody like Benson Henderson, whom Bellator made waves with by signing last week.  

"I think I have earned my place as one of the most exciting fighters in Bellator, if not the most exciting fighter in Bellator," he said. "So you bring a guy like Josh Thomson in, who’s a fast-paced, hard-nosed guy, people are going to want to see me and him fight over a slow-paced Will Brooks fight."

Chandler, who spent his last camp at Power MMA in Arizona after spending the bulk of his career with Alliance in his home state of California, said he was in a good place both physically and mentally. He was excited about Bellator’s recent signing spree, with the additions of Sergei Kharitonov, Chris Leben and Henderson.

When asked if he was surprised about Bellator’s decision to put Henderson in a title fight against current welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov rather than in a lightweight bout against Brooks, Chandler said Bellator operates uniquely.

"I can tell you one thing, in dealing with Bellator it isn’t always necessarily Bellator telling you what you’re going to do all the time," he said. "The cool thing about it is that it’s ran differently. It’s not so much a dictatorship as it is a little bit of a democracy. When you put yourself in this position the kind of guy they want to have a mutual beneficial relationship with. Benson Henderson is obviously a great talent.

"He’s a good dude. He brings a lot of eyeballs to the TV and he’s an exciting fighter and he’s been the champion at 155 and he’s big enough to go to 170. So I think they thought hey, maybe come in at 170, maybe beat up the Russian and obviously there’s a ton of fights in the welterweight division, and in the lightweight division that’s great for Ben Henderson. And he can always come down when he wants to, and I hope that he does. If not I might have to pack on a couple of pounds and head up to 170."

If Chandler’s next fight does happen against Thomson, the former Mizzou wrestler said that he’d welcome it — even if they are trending in opposite directions.

"At the end of the day, I don’t think Josh called me out with any animosity, I think him and I are both respectful," he said. "But, man it’s just not his time. It’s still my time. I’m just entering my prime, and I’m only going up. In my mind he’s been to the peak of his career and he’s on his way down, so we’re meeting at the right time for me and the wrong time for him. Wherever it is, whenever it is, I’m ready to throw down and I look forward to that fight."

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