If nothing else, Michael Chandler is at least happy to be able to walk under his own power.
Little else has gone right for the former Bellator lightweight champion since he’s been in New York City. Chandler lost his belt to Brent Primus on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden at Bellator NYC.
Chandler clearly was winning the fight in the first round of their title matchup, but he was also hobbled by a left foot injury which appeared perilously close to disaster. New York State Athletic Commission referee Todd Anderson waved off the fight despite his protests -- evidently on the advice of ringside doctors — and awarded Primus the belt via TKO.
Monday, though, Chandler appeared in studio on The MMA Hour and let fans know that despite what certainly seemed in the moment to be a broken foot, he simply has a sprain, and hopes to rematch Primus by the fall.
“Nothing’s broken,” Chandler said. “I went straight to the ER, the doctors at Bellevue ER, I got in, they X-rayed it, nothing broken. It’s a good thing. I could be just getting out of surgery right now with a rod in my leg. Luckily, I’m not.”
Beyond that, though, Chandler is understandably frustrated with the situation, on several levels.
For one, despite the injury, Chandler was still in control of the fight, and had in fact dropped Primus just seconds before the bout was waved off.
“The unfortunate part of the situation was, that ref called for the doctors to come into the cage 15 seconds after I just dropped him,” Chandler said. “On one leg.”
Then there was the matter of how things went with commission officials, as Anderson stopped the action and called in the doctors.
“You heard me, I said, I looked at three doctors in the eye and said, ‘This thing better be broken,’“ Chandler said. “If you’re going to stop this fight in front of all of these people, with all the hard work I’ve put in, with all this on the line, and that belt, this thing better be broken.”
It ultimately turned out not to be a break. But at the same time, Chandler also understands why those looking at the situation came to the conclusion the fight should be stopped.
“If you lined up 100 people right now and said ‘Hey, watch this clip, is that man right there fit to fight,’ 90 percent of them would say ‘No, he was stumbling all over the place,’” Chandler said.
While Chandler will have an MRI done later this week before he’s officially cleared, he believes he’ll be back in the gym in two weeks.
The experience, though, has him gun shy about potentially fighting in New York state again. The commission has been through one mishap and controversy after another since legalizing MMA last year, including Anderson, who was involved in the controversial Holly Holm-Germaine de Randamie fight in Brooklyn at UFC 208.
“New York is a cool city, but I don’t want to fight here ever again,” Chandler said. “It’s a little bit amateur hour, man. It’s different. They don’t know what they’re doing in MMA as much as they should. We’ve had five fight cards and every single one of them has been some crazy controversy going on.”
In the meantime, Chandler isn’t mincing words on Primus and his claim to the championship.
“I would have finished him,” Chandler said. “If this was the 18th century, and we were in the middle of a field, and it was me and Brent Primus, and I had one leg to stand on, I win that fight 100 times out of 100. That’s the funny thing.”
Later, he added: “I’m still the champion. Let’s be honest. An injury took me out of the fight. Brent Primus can wear his Hugh Hefner jacket and wear that fake belt around his shoulder.”