July 30, 2013
Spike TV's Fight Preview
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Former Missouri wrestlers Ben Askren and Michael Chandler will look to defend their respective Bellator titles on Wednesday, July 31st in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Chandler, the defending Bellator Lightweight Champion, puts his title on the line against David “The Caveman” Rickels, while Askren, the Bellator Welterweight Champion will defend his title against Russian phenom Andrey Koreskov.
A 2009 graduate from Mizzou, Chandler became a world champion in 2011 after a victory by submission over Eddie Alvarez. He then defended his belt back on January 17, 2013, with a win over Judo Olympian Rick Hawn. Chandler sports an unblemished 11-0 record heading into Wednesday’s bout. His proven success has recently landed him an eight-fight extension with Bellator.
“In all my years in combat sports, I’ve never seen the growth and development in a fighter like we’ve all witnessed with Michael Chandler,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I believe Michael is the best lightweight in MMA. 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 us. And, now as one of the highest paid lightweights in MMA, he’s without question earned that distinction.”
A St. Louis native, Chandler was a part of the Mizzou Wrestling program from 2004 to 2009, where he posted a 100-40 career record. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier during his collegiate career while claiming fifth place All-American honors in 2009. Chandler was the runner-up in the 2008 and 2009 Big 12 Championships.
Alongside Chandler on the fight card is the winningest Mizzou grappler ever, Ben Askren. Askren also boasts a perfect 11-0 record in MMA as he looks to capitalize on his fourth-straight Welterweight title. Nicknamed “Funky” on the Bellator circuit, Askren will battle against undefeated Andrey Koreskov of Russia.
Askren, a two-time NCAA National Champion at 174 pounds and former US Olympian, is one of the most recognizable and memorable student-athletes in Mizzou history. Askren became the wrestling program's first-ever National Champion in 2006 and repeated his successful run through the NCAA Tournament in 2007. In addition, Askren became the program's first-ever graduate to compete at the Olympics, doing so in Beijing, China, in 2008 in the 64 kg, men's freestyle championships. The former 174-pounder rewrote the Missouri wrestling history books. Surpassing names that had previously stood at No. 1 for decades, Askren closed his college career with a record-setting 153 wins, 87 coming consecutively during the course of his junior and senior seasons, 91 career falls and 29 single season pins.
Both fights will take place live from the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, starting at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Fans can watch the action free of charge on Spike TV. Askren and Koreskov will take the cage first, with Chandler and Rickels following.
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