Lightweight champion Michael Chandler signed an eight-fight contract extension with Bellator, the promotion announced Thursday.
The undefeated Chandler (11-0, 8-0 Bellator) defends his title at Bellator 97 against David Rickels on July 31 on Spike.
“I believe Michael is the best lightweight in MMA," Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said in a statement. "And, given that, I felt it was paramount to keep Michael at Bellator for the long term. Both inside and outside the cage, Michael is a tremendous representative for our Bellator. And, now as one of the highest paid lightweights in MMA, he’s without question earned that distinction.”
Chandler rose to popularity when he and Eddie Alvarez put on one of the most exciting fights in Bellator as well as MMA history. Chandler took the title from Alvarez that night. Alvarez remains embroiled in a contract dispute with Bellator that continues to prevent the free-agent fighter from signing with the UFC or elsewhere.
“Since I signed with Bellator back in 2010, Bjorn laid out a plan for me of how he saw my career progressing and what type of levels we could reach together, and everything has come true,” Chandler said. “I couldn’t be happier with the situation I’m in right now. Bellator is my home, it’s where I want to be, and it’s where I’m going to continue to defend my belt.