Michael Chandler would like Patricio Freire rematch, questions Bellator 221 stoppage
Freire (29-4 MMA, 17-4 BMMA) finished Chandler (19-5 MMA, 16-5 BMMA) with a first-round knockout to take Chandler’s lightweight title and become a simultaneous two-division champion. “Pitbull” also holds the title at featherweight. He joins Ryan Bader (light heavyweight and heavyweight) as a two-division titleholder.
But there was an almost instant camp that contended Chandler should’ve been given a longer chance to recover after Freire knocked him down early in the first round of Saturday night’s main event.
“I’m the fighter,” Chandler told MMA Junkie after the loss. “The promoters will promote. I think you’re going to see an overwhelming majority of people that are going to want to see a rematch. I think Bellator’s probably going to want to see a rematch. Of course I want the rematch.
“Whether you’re in the camp that thinks it was an early stoppage or not, I’m not going to sit up here and rant and rave about all of that. You could’ve had 10,000 different refs in there and had it go 10,000 different ways or on the other side. … Patricio ‘Pitbull’ will step back in the cage with me, it’s just a matter of when.”
There was plenty of bad blood between Chandler and Freire, as well as Freire’s brother Patricky, a Bellator lightweight who has two losses to Chandler. The weigh-in faceoff between Chandler and Patricio Freire was more than heated, with Patricky looking on from mere feet away holding his brother’s featherweight title.
But despite the animosity, Chandler said Patricio handled the post-fight celebration in a respectful enough manner.
“This is one of those moments – whether I’ve said what I’ve said about him or not, or he’s said what he’s said about me, the goodness of the human spirit was also shown in that moment,” Chandler said. “He came over, ticked off, ready to spit, cuss, point, ready to really kind of get after it. Then all of a sudden you saw it hit him, and he came in like a sportsman. … He came in hot like he was about to say something like, ‘I told you so,’ in-your-face type of thing. But the human spirit took over right there, and he came up and said congrats, which is much easier to do when you win.”
Freire said after the fight that he’s eyeing a boxing match with Canelo Alvarez. Freire also has talked about dropping to bantamweight to go after a third title. And then there’s the matter of the unbeaten A.J. McKee, who wants to fight Freire for the featherweight title – or the lightweight belt if it comes to that.
There’s also Bellator’s planned featherweight tournament set to kick off later this year with 16 fighters – one of which is likely to be Freire, with the 145-pound strap on the line each time he steps in.
So what does that mean for Chandler’s chances of getting another crack at the lightweight title he surrendered Saturday night? Time will tell.
But Chandler believes the stoppage to Freire came early, and that should warrant him a chance to run it back.
“Did I get hit? Yeah. Was I out? Absolutely not,” Chandler said.”
Bellator 221 took place Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago. The main card streamed on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.