San Diego, Calif. is the stage of another highly-anticipated rematch for former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler as he fights interim champion Will Brooks in the sequel to their first fight. In their first go-around, we saw Brooks win via unanimous decision and take home the gold earlier this year.

Eddie Alvarez is gone and with that departure, it leaves a vacant lightweight championship. It seems fitting to give Brooks and Chandler five more rounds to decisively crown the new king of one of the most talent-rich divisions under the promotion.

In their first fight, it’s hard to argue that Chandler didn’t win the first two rounds and that Brooks didn’t win the two following that, but it’s the fifth round that divided fans and judges alike. Two judges, Robb Hinds and Todd Anderson, gave the fifth round to Brooks while Larry Ingle saw it for Chandler.

Let’s break this rematch down.

Striking

Nobody can deny Chandler’s power. In his two previous fights against Eddie Alvarez and others such as Dave Rickles, we saw that Chandler has the potential to drop his opponent at any given time. He counters well and closes the distance quickly with his speed and athleticism. Brooks, on the other hand, has devastating ground-and-pound. He lands a majority of kicks that he throws and mixes up angles effectively. His elusiveness on the feet makes it where Brooks’ opponents only manage to land slightly above 10 power strikes per fight according to Compustrike. Last fight, Chandler was preparing for Eddie Alvarez and I believe that the added time to game plan for Brooks will give him the advantage.

Advantage: Chandler

The Ground

Instead of breaking down wrestling, submissions, and grappling separately, let’s look at the full ground game for both fighters. Chandler is the former Division-I wrestler and All-American at the University of Missouri. For two rounds in their previous bout, Will Brooks dominated Chandler on the ground and delivered enough damage in one judge’s opinion to earn a 10-8 round. So who has the advantage on the ground? Chandler has the better takedowns, but Brooks was more active when he was in control. Both have impressive submission games and both have slick transitions.

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

Now we get to the fun stuff. How can you really quantify or compare the heart of a fighter? There’s no science to scale how strong somebody’s chin, but that doesn’t stop us from talking about it. The fact of the matter is that both of these guys showed tremendous heart in their last fight and both are as athletic as you’d want in a professional mixed martial artist. The main factor that is going to help me decide who has the advantage here is experience. This is Chandler’s fifth title fight in his past six fights, but Brooks only needed one to win the belt, which makes it more difficult to predict the outcome of the fight. I’m going to say that Chandler will have to take this category because he now has had a full camp to prepare for Brooks and coupling that with his championship experience will win him this fight.

Advantage: Chandler

Prediction

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Will Brooks wins. He already proved that he’s fully capable of hanging with one of the best lightweights on the planet for five rounds. I think, however, that Michael Chandler will become Bellator’s champion at 155 pounds once again.

Chandler via TKO in the 4th round.

About The Author

Blane Ferguson
Associate Editor/Senior Staff Writer

Blane can trace his MMA roots, like many others, to the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter season between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. After watching that incredible fight and cleaning the local Blockbuster of any recorded UFC pay-per-views they had, Blane was hooked on watching the sport and he carried that passion with him to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Blane is a four-year broadcasting veteran of ASU's campus radio including a founder and co-host of the station's combat sports show, The Final Round.