Still basking in the glow Bellator 58 as I’m sure you all understand. Michael Chandler showed everything about himself in that fight. He showed guts, his skills, his heart, and how far he’s come. He finished some one who people don’t finish.
Mike and Eddie Alvarez ran into each other at the hotel and we didn’t think there was any bad blood or anything. Obviously they’re not friends, but they go about their business. So they weighed in, got interviewed, and faced off. Mike reached to shake Eddie’s hand and Eddie just looked at him, then disrespectfully turned away, which was a move upsetting Mike. It was kind of an embarrassing situation. Eddie said in his interview after the weigh-ins that he planned to knock Mike out and it wouldn’t go past two rounds. I told Mike to not let it bother him. He either wanted to get in his head or Mike was so far in Eddie’s head that it bothered him. So we left it as it was, went to eat, and I don’t think Mike thought about it again.
The locker room was perfect. There was a great atmosphere and Mike was, like always, very confident and focused. We had a great warm up and with Mike it’s always a fun time. He’s not a guy who is too serious. That helps him stay relaxed and not get overwhelmed. If you think about a fight too much it could make you nervous, but Mike stays relaxed. We were joking around, having a good time, and I think that helped him not stress out about the fight. As a trainer you can tell when a fighter is nervous or confident or worried but with Mike he’s all about staying focused. We went over the game plan and in Mike’s mind there was no way he wasn’t leaving the ring with that belt. Losing isn’t something he thinks about. In his mind he’s going to win every single fight and if he keeps that mentality I don’t know if he will EVER lose. Eddie is a Top 5 fighter and Mike pretty much dominated a guy that nobody beats. I think Mike can go against any lightweight and I don’t see him losing the fight. The scary part is he’s still green. Give him another year, a little more experience, and he’s going to be a monster.
Leading up to the fight I watched a lot of footage on Eddie and tried to break his game down to look for openings/mistakes. We wanted to pressure and make Eddie know that he was in a fight; that it wasn’t going to be easy. After that we wanted to throw combinations. Eddie makes mistakes when he moves to his right so we wanted to make him pay. We knew he likes the lead right and then steps to his left. That’s when worked on timing on the takedowns. What I love about Mike is that he follows the game plan and he listens during the fight. Eventually he’s going to have all that experience and get even better. He’s young, already well-rounded, and has a great head on his shoulders. He’s going to be around for a long time and be dangerous throughout his career.
We knew that Mike could knock him down if he connected, but we also knew that Eddie gets up when he gets knocked down. He has a champion’s heart and won’t lay down for anybody. We knew it was gonna be a tough fight. We expected Eddie to get back up if Mike connected. I think people get discouraged when Eddie gets up after being knocked down, but Mike kept his composure and stuck to the game plan. He out-boxed him and knocked him down again at the end of the first round. If there had been another thirty seconds, I think he would have finished Alvarez off. I’m glad it went four rounds though because those extra frames are valuable. He showed he can out-strike the best and take anybody down. Plus he showed that he can go through adversity and he showed his heart. When he came back to the corner after the opening round I just reminded him of the game plan. I didn’t want him to get over confident but I didn’t want him to sit back either.
After the second round, I thought we were up 2-0 but I told Mike that it was 1-1. The first round he definitely got, but the second round was close. I wanted to keep Mike aggressive and not comfortable. I wanted him to perform well and not let Eddie have any breaks.
I was extremely worried in the third round. Mike came into the fight with a hurt right foot. So he threw a kick and re-injured his foot. He stepped back, did like a squat and reached down to check his foot. We lost some mobility because of that and Eddie picked up on it immediately jumping on him from that point on. Mike was in serious trouble because his foot was hurt so he couldn’t push off for takedowns, he couldn’t plant to punch, and he couldn’t move well. And Eddie was catching him with great shots. Eddie throws some of the best body shots in MMA and he hit Mike with a lot of them. So I was really worried. But I’ve seen Mike get out of so many things and I knew he wasn’t going to quit or stop unless he got knocked out. In the corner, we revived him, took care of some cuts, and reminded him of the game plan. I think the minute in the corner was enough for him to recover and clear his head.
Then in the fourth he landed that wonderful overhand right, which we worked a lot on in camp, and Eddie went down. When Mike gets on top of you you’re in trouble because he has top level ground-and-pound. He’s a wrestler but when he gets you down he doesn’t want to hold you. He wants to punish you and that’s what he did. He started throwing elbows and Eddie gave up his back. As soon as he took the back, I had the perfect angle. I saw Mike squeeze with everything he had and I knew it was over. Point blank – When Mike has any submission, you’re done. Eddie had no choice but to tap or he was going to sleep. It was such an amazing feeling. It was incredible to finally get what he worked so hard for.
Mike has a wonderful family and they have so much love for him. He had about thirty family members at the fight. It’s amazing the type of support that his family gives him, something I think helps him a lot. We were in the cage and the next thing I know, this old man is coming up the stairs and no one grabbed him. He just snuck in. It happened to be Mike’s grandfather, so I took him towards Mike, they embraced, and it was the best feeling. It’s tough to put into words. His grandfather was in tears and everything. Then the rest of the family was allowed to come in. Afterward we went to the press conference, which took about 45 minutes. Up next, we went to dinner and had a ton of people at the table. We ate and had a few drinks. His whole family was there. His dad, mom, grandfather, aunts, uncles, brothers, everyone. I think that was the best way to celebrate for Mike as far as just being around his family. I was happy to be a part of that. Then we hung out at the Hard Rock and a lot of people came up to Mike to shake his hand, ask for an autograph, and take pictures. He got a lot of attention and I’m very happy for him. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more deserving guy. He’s a great fighter and an amazing person.
Before the tournament, on MMAJunkie, I told everyone I had a new kid with tons of potential. I told folks he was gonna win the tournament and beat whoever the champion was, but I don’t think they took it too serious because they didn’t know him, Now I think the whole world knows who he is. One of the neatest things was that I saw a Tweet for Joe Rogan congratulating Mike. That was amazing and goes to show how many people are hearing about him, respect his abilities.
Overall it was an awesome time in Florida. I got to meet some new people and had some friends come to watch Mike to cheer him on. I plan on going back just to hang out and visit the people that I met. It was the first fight ever for a lot of my friends. They were a little iffy on it. One of the girls, who is a dance instructor, wasn’t used to fighting but she was impressed with the whole card including the Jessica Aguilar vs. Lisa Ward-Ellis fight. Now when she comes to Vegas she wants me to hold mitts for her.
The ring girls are so busy and everything but they congratulated Mike on his win at dinner. I have to let the world know that Jade Bryce is one of the most amazing young women I’ve ever met. She’s done so many things like traveling and helping homeless kids. She’s put herself in a lot of dangerous positions and I think most guys wouldn’t do the things she does. She has a tremendous heart. I have a lot of respect for her. I think a lot more people should be like her, including myself. After talking to her, I learned a lot of things about myself that I want to change to be more like her. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. When people are that beautiful and have that much attention, usually they’re not so nice, but that’s not the case with her. I wish her the best of luck in everything she’s involved with. If I can help her with anything, I would love to. Maybe time for a “striking” segment with the ring-girls like they do with grappling?
Truly, it was one of the best weekends of my life. Not only did Mike win the title but it was a great weekend for Xtreme Couture as Martin Kampmann picked up a victory at UFC 139 and, of course, the Raiders picked up a “W” as well. Life is extremely good right now and I’m just riding this high.
Again, I want congratulate Martin and Ray Sefo, who has been doing an awesome job with him. We’re going to keep the ball rolling and keep working hard.
That’s it for this week. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and until next time make sure to keep up with me on Twitter (@mastermitter).