Michael Chandler’s Bellator NYC title defense on PPV couldn’t have gone any worse. The face of the promotion’s lightweight division didn’t just lose his belt, but he lost it in a series of strange and unfortunate circumstances. Early in the first round of the fight, Chandler rolled his ankle hard. He soldiered on for another minute on his busted foot, even landing a couple hard punches, but it was clear he was severely hobbled.
Just over two minutes into the first round, the referee called a timeout to bring in the ringside doctor and take a look at Chandler’s foot. After some conversation, Chandler, who had been seated, got up to reiterate that he wasn’t badly injured and could continue. Then he tried to sit back down...
Instead, butt met canvas as the New York Commissioner had removed the stool from underneath Chandler when he stood up. The resulting fall has made Chandler something of a viral video sensation, and may have even been the final straw that caused doctors (unaware of why he fell) to stop the fight. He described the situation in a recent interview on the MMA Hour:
“But, we're sitting there, he had to come into the cage because he's my guy, he's in charge of everything Michael Chandler that whole event,” Chandler said, describing the role of the Commissioner who removed the stool from under him. “I guess he brought the stool up, because my cornermen aren't allowed to come in. He put the stool down, I stand up. I guess for some reason he thought we were going to continue. He pulls the stool out and it's gone viral. It's made Chive, it's got millions and millions and millions of views at my expense.”
“I mean, I'm laughing at it, man,” Chandler assured. “Literally, the night of the fight, I'm sitting there... People are ruthless, you guys are freaking ruthless. The human race is ruthless, okay. You just had a man go out there in front of millions of and millions of people, walking around like a baby deer that just got birthed into a field, and walking around on the stanky leg. And there's people posting those videos of that runway model with her ankles, or posting the video of me getting dropped on my butt on the stool.”
And while Chandler may be laughing at his own misfortune, his broader takeaway was notably less lighthearted. As he said on the MMA Hour, to him, the incident reflected especially poorly on the sport.
“People love to make fun of people. It looks bad on the sport, honestly. I could care less, you can laugh at me all you want. I love myself and I have enough self esteem to say, 'Hey, stuff happens. That's pretty darn funny actually.' But it's bad for the sport, it looks really bad. It made ESPN or something, I think, or ESPN.com.”
Eventually, while Chandler had a lot of good things to say about the commissioner who made him go viral and about the New York City itself, he admitted that he’d rather not fight there again. The commission has quickly gained a reputation for weirdness, with multiple issues over multiple events both for Bellator and the UFC.
“New York is a cool city, but I don’t want to fight here ever again,” Chandler said. “It’s a little bit amateur hour, man. It’s different. They don’t know what they’re doing in MMA as much as they should. We’ve had five fight cards and every single one of them has been some crazy controversy going on.”
Otherwise, it sounds like Chandler is hoping to return to action sometime this fall, when it seems like that a rematch with newly minted lightweight champion Brent Primus will be awaiting him.