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Goiti Yamauchi vows to finish ‘old and decadent’ Michael Chandler at Bellator 192

Bellator 120 photos
Goiti Yamauchi takes on former champion Michael Chandler at Bellator 192.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Chandler returns to the Bellator cage on Saturday, seven months after losing his lightweight title to Brent Primus in bizarre fashion, and his opponent doesn’t think he’s the same fighter that once dominated the division in Bellator.

Chandler, the former 155-pound Bellator champion, will take on rising prospect Goiti Yamauchi in the main card portion of Bellator 192 in Inglewood, Calif., and the up-and-coming Brazilian-Japanese talent believes this is the moment for him to finally become a title contender.

”This is the best fight possible for me because the winner will definitely fight for the belt next,” Yamauchi told MMA Fighting. “I think I’m fighting him in the best moment possible. I expect the best Michael Chandler ever, but I see myself with an advantage because he’s getting old and decadent. It’s my time now.”

Yamauchi, who was actually hoping for a fight with Benson Henderson or Josh Thomson — since he thought Chandler would rematch Primus right away — explained why he thinks Chandler is “old and decadent” despite winning four of his past five fights since 2015.

”Especially in the mental aspect, the motivation,” Yamauchi said, “I don’t think he’s the same. I’m young, I’m not as rich as he is, I don’t have all those belts, so I think being hungry is my advantage. I can’t question his motivation, but this is how I see it. Not that he’s not hungry, but I’m hungrier.”

Yamauchi enters the biggest bout of his life riding a three-fight winning streak since moving up to lightweight, having scored first-round submissions over Ryan Couture, Valeriu Mircea and Adam Piccolotti.

”It’s clear that my jiu-jitsu game is a level above his,” Yamauchi said of Chandler. “If you watch all of my fights, I’m not the one taking guys down, I’m getting taken down. I feel my opponent and fight wherever they want. Wherever Chandler wants to fight, I’ll be ready. But if we go to the ground, his only option is to hold me because he can’t knock me out with ground-and-pound or submit me. That’s not a possibility.

”I see myself better than him standing as well,” Yamauchi continued. “I see this as one-sided. If there’s a bad match-up for him in this division, that’s me. I’m a bad match-up for him. I will hurt him a lot. I see a bloody fight. I will take his blood, and when that happens, he will take me down — and that’s when I’ll finish the fight.”

The winner of Chandler vs. Yamauchi will challenge Primus for the Bellator title next, but Yamauchi already feels as if he is fighting the best lightweight on the company’s roster at Bellator 192.

”If you watch the fight, [Primus] really hurts Chandler with a kick, so it’s not luck, but I don’t know what would happen in a rematch,” Yamauchi said. “Michael Chandler would probably win, but [Primus] was better that night.

”This fight will be a three-round title fight,” Yamauchi added. “No one on the Bellator roster has beaten Michael Chandler in a convincing way, so I believe I can be the one.”

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