Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler hopes to fight this spring, and between the two lightweight tournament finalists, Chandler said he would prefer to face Dave Jansen.
"I'd like to be able to fight in April or May," Chandler told journalist Ariel Helwani Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "I'd like to see Jansen win [the tournament] just because I'd like to have a win over someone else...It doesn't do you much good to fight the same guy twice."
Jansen (19-2) faces Marcin Held (15-2) March 7 at Bellator 92. Chandler, who expects the tourney winner to be his next opponent, per Bellator custom, defeated Held in 2011 by first-round chokeout.
Chandler took pains to say he would fight any opponent and praised Held's abilities—noting that Held nearly broke his leg during their fight. Nevertheless, he indicated he would have little interest in a rematch.
"I don't say anything to be disrespectful, but [Held] looks pretty much the same, standard issue," Chandler said. "He still hasn't done much with the hands, just loves to roll around. He almost broke my leg last time we fought, but I didn't tap. I was willing to let it break, but luckily it didn't."
It is entirely reasonable to think of Chandler (11-0) as the best fighter in Bellator. He may be the most underrated champion in the entire sport.
Chandler captured the belt in 2011 after waging all-out MMA war with Eddie Alvarez, who despite being submitted by Chandler is to this day the far more highly touted fighter.
Chandler said during the interview that he was not closely following the ongoing legal drama between Bellator and the UFC for the services of Alvarez. Alvarez stands to rake in a big payday once the case is resolved.
"I'm not following it," Chandler said. "I saw [the proposed contact figures]...It's not close to my numbers, but whatever. I've only been in the sport for three years...Eddie's been in the sport for a decade."
Though he expressed a preference for Jansen when asked, Chandler also expressed what seemed to be a genuine desire to keep his distance from matters outside the cage.
"I just try to keep the main thing the main thing: getting my butt in the gym," Chandler said. "I sit back and wait for the next guy."
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