At this past Friday's Bellator 157 card, Chandler regained his lightweight belt, after losing it to Will Brooks in 2014, by knocking out the Brazilian Freire in the first round with a sharp straight right hand. On Monday, the newly crowned Bellator lightweight champion went on The MMA Hour to talk about his performance and what's next for his career.
"It's surreal," Chandler told Ariel Helwani. "I have the vision of him [Freire] falling and stiffening up in my head right now, and I hope it burns into my subconscious and into my brain because I want to be able to remember that for the rest of my life because it was such an awesome feeling."
Chandler credits that highlight-reel knockout to his change in preparation, as he is no longer training with Alliance MMA Team in San Diego. The 30-year-old lightweight moved across the country to Boca Raton, Fla. to train with Neil Melanson and Henry Hooft at the Blackzillians.
"I got to give credit to Henry hoof because his pad work is different," Chandler said. "It's not about crazy combinations, it's not about cardio, and it's not about quickness or this and that. It's about footwork, moving in and out of the pocket, speed, power and accuracy. My punches are so accurate, and so powerful because that's how he makes us train in those pad sessions.
"All it was was a jab. I hit him with a couple of hard jabs that set up that right hand. A couple of hard jabs on the mouth, his mouth was already bleeding, you can see me bouncing with my footwork, feet perfectly planted shoulder width apart where they needed to be to be. I fainted with the jab. He thought the jab was coming and the right hand came out of nowhere, and it hit him right on the button. And it's the same combination. It's a one and a two, and it's probably the most basic combination that you can get in mixed martial arts, kickboxing, boxing, and it puts guys away, so it worked out well."
Now champion and looking to defend his belt, Chandler believes he has good options of possible title contenders to defend his belt against. Ben Henderson and Josh Thomson are two former UFC fighters and recent Bellator signees that Chandler would like to face.
"I want the Benson fight to happen," Chandler said. "He's got a long time left on his contract, he's got a lot of fights left in him. I'm not 100 percent sure on Josh, so I would like to fight Josh next. I'd like to see him [Thomson] healthy, and lets finish what we started because I don't think he has a ton of fights left, so lets get that Chandler-Thomson fight done, and then onward and upward."
Even though Chandler wants to defend his title against the 37-year-old Thomson first, Chandler says that a fight with Henderson would be bigger for his career.
"I think Benson is the bigger fight, you know," Chandler explained. "So, obviously, I want that fight, but man, I'm just getting better. If Benson had it his way, he would probably want it next because I'm just going to keep getting better under the tutelage of Neil Melanson and Henry Hooft. Every single day that I get to train from now and the end of my career, I'm going to become more and more devastating. So, I would love to be able to fight Josh Thompson next just because of the unfinished business we have. Just because he took me away from my wife across the country, you know, for nine weeks and I didn't even get to fight him. But we'll see. I wish him the best, I wish him a speedy recovery, and I hope he's heeling up well, so we'll see."