Michael Chandler continues to show vast improvement. He defended his Bellator Lightweight Championship in quick fashion over David Rickels Wednesday from Santa Ana Center in Albuquerque, N.M.
Rickels won the Bellator Season Eight tournament to earn a title shot. In the opening round, he won a decision over Lloyd Woodard and followed that up with a decision over Jason Fischer. In the finals, he would meet Saad Awad.
Rickels won the final by TKO in the second round. He looked like a potentially dangerous opponent who would pose some interesting challenges for the talented champion.
That was not the case. Rickels was no match for Chandler.
Chandler is still a work in progress, but his raw skills are quickly becoming polished.
His stand-up was on point against Rickels. The combination of speed and power generated was outstanding, and he obliterated Rickels with it. Everything was perfect. He didn't wing his punches. Chandler utilized skill to go with his physical abilities to put Rickels to sleep.
It only took 44 seconds.
After the bout, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney called Chandler the best lightweight in the world. If Chandler continues to develop at this rate, it will become increasingly difficult to refute that statement. Chandler's dominant performance elevates his status in the sport.
This was the second title defense for Chandler. He won the title in late 2011 in an exciting tilt with Eddie Alvarez. He finished the bout with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round. Chandler would defend his title for the first time against Rick Hawn this past January and once again win by rear-naked choke,
Bellator will have to continue to develop potential challengers for the champion. Chandler recently re-signed with the organization. It was an eight-fight, multiyear deal with the company.
Michael Chandler's next opponent will be Bellator Season Seven tournament champion Dave Jansen. No date has been set for that title defense.