An Indomitable Spirit

Michael Chandler Ascends from Humble Roots to MMA Eminence.

Hailing from High Ridge, Missouri, a quaint town nestled near the Illinois border, Chandler describes his hometown as “more than a one-horse town, yet not quite a thriving metropolis. I’m a small guy, from a small town, who was taught to do small things,” Chandler reminisces, recounting the manner in which his modest upbringing endeavored to dissuade grand aspirations and lofty dreams. Fortuitously for the MMA world and its ardent devotees, Chandler and his parents harbored grander ambitions. Defying small town constraints would define the way forward for Chandler.

Chandler’s ascension to the pinnacle of MMA can be traced back to his collegiate wrestling days. Despite being a formidable high school wrestler, Chandler did not receive scholarship offers from any Division 1 college wrestling programs. While he garnered offers from Division 2 and NAIA institutions, Chandler opted to forgo those opportunities, instead attempting to secure a walk-on position at the University of Missouri. Chandler astutely recognized that he would be better served by the caliber of coaching and competition at Division 1 schools. With the unwavering support of his father, Mike, and mother, Betty, Chandler not only secured a place on the team but went on to become a three-time NCAA All-American. Chandler fondly recounts, “My parents were always willing to support us, no matter what sacrifices they had to make, whether it was taking on additional work or forsaking their own desires to ensure we had the opportunity to pursue ours.” As Chandler characterizes his childhood, “We didn’t have an abundance of material possessions, but we were never lacking.” He also credits his coach at the University of Missouri for instilling in him the desire to be not merely the best wrestler he could be but also the best student, friend, leader and person he could become.

This dedication to being more than just a student athlete, but a well-rounded individual, has served Chandler well throughout his life. Chandler etched his mark in the MMA landscape with Bellator MMA, where he swiftly emerged as one of its brightest luminaries. In 2011, Chandler’s breakthrough moment arrived when he captured the Bellator Lightweight Championship in a riveting clash, culminating in the submission of Eddie Alvarez. This victory not only showcased his formidable skill set but also set the stage for a series of epic battles that would cement his legacy as a Bellator legend.

Chandler went on to successfully defend the Lightweight title on two subsequent occasions. Throughout his career, Chandler has been a part of some of the most unforgettable moments in MMA history. The trilogy with Eddie Alvarez, including their epic encounter at Bellator 106, demonstrated Chandler’s ability to thrive under immense pressure. His reign as Bellator Lightweight Champion was marked by dominant performances and an unyielding will to succeed.

In 2020, Michael Chandler took his talents to the biggest stage in MMA—the UFC. His debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257 was nothing short of total domination. In a mere two minutes and thirty seconds, Chandler unleashed his explosive striking, delivering a first-round knockout that left fans and fellow fighters in awe. The statement victory catapulted him into the upper echelons of the lightweight division. Chandler’s fighting style is a masterful blend of technical proficiency and raw power that overwhelms opponents with a multifaceted attack. Chandler’s powerful striking, formidable takedowns and relentless pace dismantle opponents both standing and on the mat. His ability to adapt his offense and defense to different opponents and fight scenarios has made him a formidable force in the lightweight division.

Michael Chandler’s impact transcends the boundaries of the octagon. A devoted family man and an outspoken Christian who uses his faith as a lodestar to uplift and inspire others, Chandler not only possesses the mind of a relentless fighter but is also driven by an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit. Chandler is involved in no less than four health and fitness brands, a prolific business acumen driven by what he refers to as being “blissfully dissatisfied.” He explains that one must be content with their accomplishments while simultaneously harboring the notion that they can achieve more. He is involved in various capacities with Kram Nutrition (which produces what Chandler refers to as a “healthy Uncrustable”), WalkOn Fitness, Training Camp Cut and Speede Fitness.

Michael Chandler Photoshoot

Michael Chandler not only seeks to promote physical well-being but also encourages occasional hiatuses from physical progression to reflect on one’s achievements. What better way to do so than with a high-quality tequila? According to Chandler, his partnership with Hiatus Tequila was born out of his affinity for tequila and his deep respect for the company’s owner. Chandler speaks in reverent tones regarding this new venture, stating, “Kristopher DeSoto (Owner of Hiatus Tequila) and I are seeking to redefine what a celebrity partnership should look like in the spirit industry. I have invested in Hiatus because of their commitment to crafting tequila the traditional way—with a deep respect for culture, hard work and dedication to authenticity and quality at a superior price point.” The story of Hiatus Tequila would seem to mirror Chandler’s internal characteristics.

Chandler also finds time for his family and friends. Chandler, his wife Brie, and their two sons, Hap and Ace, enjoy traveling to far-flung destinations like Iceland, Greece and the somewhat less exotic Scottsdale, Arizona. Chandler spends time in the desert oasis of Scottsdale playing golf and hosting extended visits for groups of friends and family while on hiatus from his training regimen. The elusive pursuit of perfection in golf resonates with Chandler, as the need to work smarter and be dedicated to improvement feels natural to him. Although, according to Chandler, even the pressure cooker of stepping into the octagon for his first professional fight pales in comparison to the pressure involved in standing on the first tee at his local club with a crowd gathered.

In the unforgiving realm of MMA, Michael Chandler stands tall as a symbol of resilience, skill and unwavering determination. From collegiate wrestling mats to the unforgiving spotlight of the UFC, Chandler’s journey is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. The next chapter in his storied career promises to be just as thrilling as the last, ensuring that the name Michael Chandler will continue to echo through the annals of MMA history. Whether he’s chasing titles, new business opportunities or new experiences for his family, one thing is certain—Michael Chandler’s journey in the octagon and in the boardroom is far from over.

For more articles, click here.

About The Author

For editorial consideration please contact editor@jetsetmag(dot)com.

Related Posts