In the midst of all that occurred at and following Bellator 149, one tidbit of information many fans have forgotten is the stellar pair of fights Bellator has booked for May. In the light heavyweight division, Phil Davis will face off against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. Meanwhile, Josh Thomson and Michael Chandler will square off in a lightweight bout. In Thomson’s eyes, it was the best fight for him.
“There was a sit-down talk and a conversation about who I would like to fight,” Thomson told Combat Press. “It’s the fight fans want to see. I get more hype and publicity from fans across social media about wanting to see us fight.”
Why did Thomson go the route of facing off against Chandler? Well, Bellator 149 supports his argument.
“Let’s look at tonight,” said Thomson on the day of the Bellator 149 card. “Tonight was about Kimbo [Slice], Dada , Ken [Shamrock] and Royce [Gracie]. It’s going to do good numbers. When you’re in the entertainment business, it’s about the numbers. So Chandler and I are the numbers. Davis and ‘King Mo’ are the numbers.”
Since coming over to Bellator in 2015, Thomson has won back-to-back fights. Both fights ended before the final bell. Considering his history in MMA along with his name value, a fight with Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks would seem to make a lot of sense. Brooks has won eight consecutive bouts, including two victories over the aforementioned Chandler. In need of a dance partner with drawing power, Thomson would seem like a perfect fit.
“His name came up and there was some discussion about it,” Thomson said. “I’ve been a world champion and, yes, I would love to fight for the belt. But I have a short period of time and I’ve made a choice to finish out my career fighting guys I want to fight. Scott [Coker, Bellator President] has given me that. He’s given me exactly what I want.”
It would seem Thomson will continue to get what he wants: all indications point to a rematch with Benson Henderson in the near future. Following Bellator 149, Thomson spoke to media members and guaranteed that after his fight with Chandler, Henderson is up next. Of course, Henderson has some housekeeping of his own to do. He gets the chance to fight for Bellator gold in his Bellator debut against welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov.
“Realistically, we’ll see what happens. But I really would like to get that fight,” Thomson said. “It seems to me that a lot of media and fans think I won that fight. I know Ben is a little thicker now; I usually walk around at 174 [pounds], so I would have to get my weight up and we will go from there.”
The first meeting between Henderson and Thomson was a close fight. Henderson edged out Thomson on the scorecards by a narrow margin. While getting the win back is important for Thomson, it’s not necessarily the biggest reason he wants to meet Henderson in the Bellator cage.
“I have my options,” Thomson said. “I have Benson, I have Brooks and I have Chandler. At the end of the day, it’s about the numbers and which numbers make sense. Which two fights would you choose to see out of those? I’m not trying to dig at Brooks; I’m just trying to talk facts, that’s all.”
Brooks has seen his reputation in the MMA world come under the microscope during his time in Bellator. The lightweight champion has often times voiced his displeasure with the promotion across social media. Fans have either supported his claims or labeled him as a whiner because of it. It’s not hard to see why Brooks has been frustrated with the promotion and intends to pursue free agency once his contract is up. It seems like the lightweight division in Bellator is moving along without its champion.
Both guys are talking a numbers game when discussing Bellator. It’s just Thomson is running numbers with Bellator, whereas Brooks is looking out toward bigger numbers on the bottom of a new contract.