Michael Chandler can only play the hand he was dealt.
The former Bellator MMA lightweight champion will lock horns with short-notice replacement Brandon Girtz in the Bellator 197 main event on Friday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. Chandler was originally booked opposite Brent Primus, the man who dethroned him some 10 months ago, in a rematch for the 155-pound crown.
A longtime cornerstone for Bellator, Chandler has compiled a stellar 14-4 record with the organization while appearing in more title bouts (nine) than any fighter in its history. The 31-year-old Hard Knocks 365 representative last competed at Bellator 192 on Jan. 20, when he pistol whipped Goiti Yamauchi to a unanimous decision across three rounds. Scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25. Wins over Marcin Held, Rick Hawn and former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez buoy the Chandler resume. He was an NCAA All-American at the University of Missouri, where he captained the wrestling team for three seasons.