Learning How to Fight
Michael Chandler, "King Mo" Lawal, and Liam McGeary know how to scrap.
The three of them are some of the best in world when it comes to mixed martial arts but on Tuesday they saw up close and personal a fight much more difficult than any they've faced.
The Bellator fighters made a stop by Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Maryland Heights where they passed out goodies aplenty to the young patients. The gifts ranged from plenty of Playstation 4s and games to Affliction tees and Bellator swag.
McGeary, the Bellator light heavyweight champion from England, was a big hit with the children. With is British accent and the Bellator belt a popular prop for photos, the rangy, mohawk-and-bearded McGeary was in high demand.
"Everyone always wants to hold the belt and their first reaction is always, wow, it's heavy," McGeary said. "It's nice a facility and it feels good to see how they're living, how they're happy. You can see it in their faces."
Lawal is one the bigger names in the organization, having fought for the light heavyweight title in the past and also making a recent trek into the heavyweight division.
"It opens your eyes up and shows that fighting in a cage is small. There are other things out there worth fighting for that is bigger than us," Lawal said. "This shows that we're all fighters. Everybody, when they think about fighting, it's about fighting in a cage or ring. But really, we're all fighting something and we have the fighting instinct in us. I wouldn't be here unless I had other people giving back to me. It's my way to pay it forward."
It was Chandler, the St. Louis native who cut his teeth wrestling for Northwest High School then at the University of Missouri, who was a man of constant motion. Signing, posing, talking, and hugging.
"All the pain and suffering that I have gone threw that last few months is nothing like what these guys have to go through," Chandler said. "It's humbling to see. It brings you back down to earth. It makes you put things in perspective."
After Ranken-Jordan, the Bellator crew went to the St. Louis Food Bank where they lent a helping hand.
Chandler, armed with a milk jug filled with water, is the only one of the trio fighting Friday as Bellator: 134 Unfinished Business takes over the Scottrade Center. The former Bellator lightweight champion brings a 12-3 record into his main bout with Derek Campos.
It was just over five years ago that Chandler was at the Scottrade Center and fought Sal Woods under the Strikeforce banner in just his third pro fight.
"Back then, that Michael Chandler didn't know if he was going to continue on the fighting path," Chandler said. "I knew I had a little bit of a passion for it but I wasn't sure I was going to fall in love with it the way I am today. Here we are, five years later. I'm undefeated in the Scottrade Center and I had some of my best performances in wrestling here."
Chandler has to be one of the elder statesmen in the Bellator organization. After that fight with Woods, he made his Bellator debut in October of 2010.
On Friday, he will make his 13th trip into the Bellator cage and with the arrival last summer of new president Scott Coker this years Bellator isn't yesterday's Bellator. Gone are the weekly tournament formats and in are the big tentpole shows like Friday's. However you cut it, Bellator has a swagger to it now.
"As soon as Scott Coker came over. He had such a great reputation and was such a credible promoter and figure in this sport that immediately everybody knew that we weren't just the No. 2 organization," Chandler said. "We were going to start growing and doing bigger things and here we are. St. Louis, the Scottrade Center is going to be packed, the big sound system, and everything leading up to the fight. The organization has grown and is signing better talent and bigger names. It's exciting. I'm in a situation where Bellator has taken really good to me. People see how good I'm being treated and what I'm taking home and it works out."
Bellator: Unfinished Business is headlined by the matchup of Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock and the featherweight title bout between Patricio Pitbull (23-2) vs. Daniel Weichel (35-8).
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
Bellator MMA: Unfinished Business Weigh-in
4 PM - Doors open to fans | 5 PM - Official weigh-ins begin.
Bellator MMA Fan Fest
Dave & Buster's - 13857 Riverport Dr. Maryland Heights, MO
This event is open to the public.
7 PM - Legendary MMA fighters Fedor Emelianenko, Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz, along with Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion Liam McGeary and legendary referee John McCarthy will be on site to sign autographs and take photos with fans.
FRIDAY, JUNE 19
Bellator: Unfinished Business
4 PM - Autograph signing for ticketholders: Legendary MMA fighters Fedor Emelianenko & Royce Gracie, along with The Bellator Girls will be signing autographs for ticketholders only outside the Scottrade Center Box Office.
5 PM - Doors open to the public
5:45 PM - First preliminary fight streamed live on www.spike.com
8 PM - First televised fight LIVE and FREE on SPIKE
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO
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Casa Loma Ballroom, St. Louis, MO
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Ameristar Casino, St. Louis, MO