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Brandon Girtz eyes title shot with win over Michael Chandler at Bellator 197

Brandon Girtz
Bellator MMA

A month ago, the possibility that Brandon Girtz could soon be fighting for a Bellator championship was remote.

Over the past five years, he’d carved out a niche for himself as a reliable hand for the promotion, willing to take on any opponent regardless of whether he had three months or three weeks to prepare, and usually putting on an entertaining fight to the detriment of his health. Company men aren’t always rewarded beyond receiving the assurance that another fight contract is around the corner and Girtz isn’t the type to ask for more than he thinks he deserves. But by keeping himself active and in the mix, it was only a matter of time until the chips fell just right for him.

Girtz fights two-time lightweight champion Michael Chandler on Friday in the main event of Bellator 197 at The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., an opportunity that arose after a grudge match between Chandler and current titleholder Brent Primus was canceled due to a Primus injury.

Whatever happens next, Girtz is excited about the possibility of collecting some hardware of his own somewhere down the line and the validation that would come with it.

“People say they don’t care about the belt, they don’t, whatever, everybody cares about the belt,” Girtz told MMA Fighting. “It’s not about the belt or the piece of metal, it’s just about being on top of your division. So I absolutely want that title shot after I beat Chandler and I believe I’ll be lined up for it. Has there been major talk about it? No. Have I even asked about it? No. Because right now I’m focused on Chandler and only Chandler. But do I believe with a win, definitely I believe I’m going to knock him out, does that warrant a shot at the title? Absolutely.

“And I think (officials) think that too, but they’re not going to put themselves in a place right now and say, ‘You beat him, you get this.’ We know how promotions work and everybody gets told things at times and they don’t always work out how they’re said. So I haven’t asked, I haven’t demanded, I haven’t said nothing in that right, because I feel like my path will be made once I go out there and do what I’m supposed to do. It’s going to be inevitable.”

Brandon Girtz
Bellator MMA

In 12 Bellator appearances, Girtz has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, winning seven and losing five. A three-fight win streak, that included victories over Derek Campos and Melvin Guillard, was followed by a recent three-fight losing streak that was coincidentally capped off by a loss to Campos in what was the third and most-violent meeting between the two men.

That gutsy performance earned Girtz a shot to end his skid, and he did so in emphatic fashion with a mighty knockout of Luka Jelcic last December.

His place in the company once again secure, Girtz was actually in camp preparing for a different opponent when Bellator officials called asking him to replace Primus. The 33-year-old’s coaches cautioned against taking on a world-class opponent like Chandler with less than a month to prepare, but Girtz’s conviction convinced them that there was no changing his mind.

“Chandler, there’s not a lot of people at 155 that have a bigger name than Chandler, so I feel like this is the fight,” said Girtz. “I don’t feel like I’ve been overlooked, I feel like there’s been a couple of times where I was right there and I know I was right there, but some unfortunate events happened and I wasn’t able to capitalize at the time. I do believe right now is my time and I do believe how everything is working out with my team and everything that the opportunity came at a perfect time.”

Should Friday’s fight go Girtz’s way, he’s ready to take on Primus or any of his fellow Bellator lifers on his way to the top. He even teased a possible move down to 145 pounds once his business at lightweight is settled.

“Definitely, Patricky (Freire). He’s been there for a long time too and he’s at the top of the division and he’s established as well. So that would be a fight I would love,” said Girtz. “I feel like if I’m not up for the title, he’s the only other name that should be up for the title after I beat Chandler. He’s the only other person that deserves it right now, I believe. That would be someone I would love to fight.

Saad Awad is up there too, he’s been with Bellator for a while. These are guys that I’ve seen through my whole career that I haven’t been able to fight yet. We’ve all been there for multiple years, we’ve been around, and these are people I’ve seen that whole time that I respect. I respect Saad Awad and Patricky, both of those fighters. Those would be great fights, I like to put on a fight, I’m here to entertain and I feel like that’s why you’re going to continuously see me at the top of the program and main events because Bellator knows every time I step up out there I’m looking to put on a show and I’m looking to put somebody away.”