When Bellator touched down in Chicago last April, it was a night of spectacular submissions ending with a quick win by MMA legend Fedor Emilianenko. Making their return to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill this Saturday night, the organization is bringing some of its biggest stars to host what could be a Fight of the Year contender lightweight world title super fight main event between current lightweight champion, Michael Chandler (18-4) and current featherweight champion, Patricio Pitbull (28-4) at Bellator 221: Chandler vs Pitbull.
If that wasn’t enough, the co-main event will feature a welterweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final fight between former Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima (30-7) taking on undefeated rising superstar, Michael “Venom” Page (14-0) or MVP as he is known to most. Also, on the main card will be undefeated featherweight, A.J. McKee (13-0) facing Chicagoland’s own, Pat Curran (23-7) and former WWE champion Jake Hager (1-0) making his return to the cage after his impressive debut win in January.
As Chandler looks to keep his title that he won back in December, current featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull looks to be a two-division champion with a win over Chandler and despite having moved up a weight class, is ready for the challenge. “Yes, I am ready for this challenge,” said Pitbull. “And Michael Chandler’s time is over. It is time for a new champion at the lightweight division.” The belt also seems to be just a token for this fight as Pitbull has made it very clear that he wants much more than that with a win over Chandler on Saturday night. “At one time in my career, I did want a second belt,” explained Pitbull. “But this belt is going to signify me taking off my opponents’ head and that’s exactly what the belt is going to be…Michael Chandler’s head. That’s what this belt means to me. It’s not really about the belt, but for making Michael pay for everything he said.”
Chandler is known for having some of the most entertaining fights in the past decade, he is used to the back and forth that has to go on prior to the fight but knows that its what they can back up on fight night that people remember. “Man, this is my 24th fight and I’ve heard it all,” said Chandler. “Everybody wants to destroy their opponent and everybody thinks their opponent has these glaring weaknesses. The fact of the matter is that I’m going to step into that cage the most prepared I have ever been, the biggest, fastest, and strongest and the most technical/smartest I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
For MVP and Douglas Lima, the stars of the co-main event of the night, last weekend’s draw between welterweight Grand Prix tournament fighters, Jon Fitch and Rory MacDonald threw a wrench in the tournament as even though MacDonald advanced, his future has been in the air this week after his post fight comments insinuating retirement. But Lima still wanting that rematch with MacDonald still stays focused at the task at hand and his intention on winning the tournament. I’m a little bit disappointed for sure, “said Lima. That’s a fight I would like, to get the rematch. It was so close and many people thought that I had won. The title is definitely more important. My focus is to be a champion again and to get both of these belts, you know from the tournament, and the weight class. Of course, I’m hoping he (MacDonald) keeps going and everything goes good. That’s the final that I would like and I think it would be great.” MVP on the other hand has built his career on highlight reels and his personality and knows he needs to continue these winning ways if he wants to come out on top of this tournament. “For all of us, every fight that we take we want to finish our opponent. It has nothing to do with how anyone else’s result went, so at the end of the day it is a tournament and I don’t really care how I win as long as I win,” explained MVP. “I would love to get a highlight reel finish and I’m sure every fighter would say the same, but first and foremost I need to just win. So regardless of how it happens, I just need to win and move on to the final.”
With title belts and champ-champ belts and a $1 million-dollar jackpot bonus put up for the winner of the welterweight Gran Prix tournament, so much is on the line this weekend in Chicago for these Bellator gladiators and if the words of Michael Chandler come true, those in attendance and those watching at home are in for a glorious night of fights. “I could care less about who I step in the cage with,” explained Chandler. “I could care less about where the blood is, whether it’s bad blood, good blood, or in-between blood. On May 11, I’m going to go out there and put on a dominant performance, just like I always do. I’m going to get my hand raised, I’m going to collect the check and kiss my wife and continue to move forward in this journey.”
Bellator 221: Chandler vs Pitbull is live from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill, Saturday, May 11th exclusively on DAZN. Prelims start at 7:30 ET/ Main card at 9pm ET.