Former lightweight champion Michael Chandler finds himself in the unfamiliar position of looking for a rebound effort when he battles Will Brooks at Bellator 120 this weekend. Chandler was initially scheduled to conclude his remarkable trilogy with Eddie Alvarez, but the current champion was forced off the pay-per-view event in Southaven, Miss. because of a concussion.
The Chandler-Brooks clash will be for an interim title. After his late withdrawal, Alvarez made headlines with derogatory comments about the creation of the interim belt that his chief rival and Brooks will be fighting for. He would later apologize for the remarks. Chandler lost the 155-pound strap against Alvarez last November at Bellator 106 in another memorable encounter between the two talented fighters. Alvarez earned the split-decision nod after five thrilling and brutal rounds.
Chandler now looks to get back into the win column after suffering his first career loss in 13 fights. He had made two successful title defenses against Rick Hawn and David Rickels after defeating Alvarez to initially win the title at Bellator 58. Chandler has a tremendous wrestling background and is a powerful puncher with 10 finishes by way of knockout or submission.
Brooks got this opportunity after winning Bellator’s Season 9 lightweight tournament by defeating Alexander Sarnavskiy in the final. Brooks was slated to get a lightweight title shot at some point but now gets this high-profile test because of the Alvarez injury. “Ill Will” had been originally scheduled to face Nate Jolly on the main PPV card as a stay busy fight before getting the major upgrade in competition.
Brooks has a grinding type of style that has allowed him to produce a 13-1 career record. His lone loss was by knockout to Saad Awad. He avenged that defeat during the Season 9 tournament with a dominant decision victory against the powerful striker and is currently riding a four-fight win streak.
It was no doubt a massive disappointment for Chandler to have his main event clash against Alvarez fall through, but he’s handled the situation in a professional manner. Chandler doesn’t want to be saddled with a second straight loss and therefore should be more than ready for the hungry and motivated Brooks.
If Chandler does the expected and emerges victorious, hopefully Alvarez won’t be on the sidelines for too long and Bellator can eventually make the rubber match happen. In the meantime, Brooks will be looking to take his career to an entirely different level if he can pull off the upset against one of the best lightweights in the sport.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports