Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney strolled across the canvas toward Michael Chandler, shiny golden belt in hand.
Chandler had just defended his Bellator title moments earlier, needing just 44 seconds to brutally knock out David Rickels. It was scary—cold-blooded, even.
As he awarded Chandler his hardware, Rebney spoke clearly and concisely into the arena's microphone. His prized possession just executed 44 seconds of MMA perfection, and Rebney seized the opportunity to brag up his star.
"That was electrifying. You're looking at the best lightweight in mixed martial arts right here," Rebney told the crowd.
Are we? Is Michael Chandler the man?
At 12-0 with four straight finishes—his latest a masterpiece—Chandler looks the part of the greatest lightweight on the planet.
Primarily known as a wrestler, Chandler's evolution of late is staggering. He's submitting world-class judoka. He's knocking out dudes who have never been finished.
And he's doing it with ease.
If Michael Chandler wastes away in Bellator, unfortunately, we will never confirm Rebney's assertion. The level of competition is simply not there.
While Rick Hawn, Eddie Alvarez and David Rickels are respectable opponents who would probably hold their own in the UFC, until Chandler defeats a legitimate top-10 UFC lightweight, it is impossible to agree with Rebney.
UFC veterans like Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson and T.J. Grant would provide a significant challenge for Chandler, and I would not favor the Bellator champ in any of these matchups.
That said, he certainly has a chance. He is dangerous, he is strong, he is fast, and he keeps getting better...but we will receive no resolution while he is in his prime.
Chandler recently signed his fighting life away (via Yahoo!) and thus ensured that his skills belong in the Bellator cage for the foreseeable future.
If Rebney is correct, the "best lightweight in MMA" will never grace the sport's greatest stage. Remember though, Hector Lombard received similar praise from Rebney before beginning a rocky UFC career where he has looked average at best, so I'd mitigate expectations.
Chandler may just be the greatest 155-pound fighter in the world this very second, but until he beats somebody of heightened relevance, I'm not buying it.
For fans of MMA, heavy metal or general absurdity, Follow @HunterAHomistek.