To Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler, main-eventing Bellator's Spike TV debut opposite Rick Hawn isn't that big of a deal.
In fact, the lightweight champ is unimpressed with himself and his accolades.
"It’s one of those things where you gotta stay grounded," he told the media at a conference call at which Bleacher Report was present. "You gotta realize—what I’ve accomplished so far is nothing compared to what to I want to accomplish as far as wins, as far as being able to go out there and put on great performances for the fans."
Some MMA fans might forget the name "Michael Chandler" since he only fought once in 2012 (a 56-second destruction of Akihiro Gono in May).
But Chandler's crowning MMA achievement was a spectacular upset victory over former champ Eddie Alvarez.
This is the same Eddie Alvarez who was UFC-bound before he became embroiled in a legal battle with Bellator that has been making headlines recently.
Chandler defeated a fighter good enough for the UFC in Alvarez, yet still, his name doesn't carry more weight among fans.
Chandler was mum when asked about this unfortunate phenomenon.
"Obviously, as a young, young, hungry fighter, I’d like to be fighting three or four times a year…Since then I’ve done a lot of training…tried to get my name out there as much as possible…I really feel like I’ve grown a ton as a fighter and gotten a ton better," he said.
For his sake, he better have grown as a fighter. Chandler's Bellator 85 opponent Rick Hawn is no joke. Hawn is a judo Olympian who proved to be a knockout artist. He's a dangerous opponent and one Chandler greatly anticipates fighting.
"That’s one of the best things about this fight, is the opportunity to fight a guy like Rick Hawn, a competitor like Rick Hawn," said Chandler.
Concerning strategy against such a diverse opponent, Chandler was nonchalant.
"I don’t focus on how I’m gonna get the finish or how I would like to get the finish. I focus on just my gameplan that I’ve gone over with myself, my coaches. If the finish comes it comes," he said.
"If not, you’re gonna see a 5-round war and I think the fans would love that. It’s gonna be an exciting fight no matter what from bell to bell, from round to round."
An exciting fight would make many happy, especially Bellator and Spike TV brass since an entertaining scrap between the two men could a "Griffin-Bonnar" moment for Bellator, something that catapults them to the next level of popularity and brand recognition.
Michael Chandler will square off against Rick Hawn at Bellator 85 on January 17 at 10 p.m. ET on Spike TV. Chandler's Bellator lightweight title will be at stake.
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