Hawn looks to bring another title to Tristar
Could there be another made-in-Montreal MMA title?
Rick (Genghis) Hawn will attempt to bring another championship belt to Montreal's Tristar Gym on Thursday when he takes on Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler in Bellator 85 in Irvine, Calif.
The show marks Bellator's move to Spike TV.
The 36-year-old Hawn, who placed ninth in judo at the 2004 Olympics, trains in Montreal at Tristar alongside the likes of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
"Not only Georges is up here — and he's a great fighter — but there's a ton of other guys," Hawn told a media conference call.
"In Georges' case, just being able to train with him and spar with him and just see the level that he's at, it's incredible. It's inspiring, it makes me work harder and train better."
Hawn started working at Tristar about 18 months ago.
"There's great training back in Boston where I live, but up here it's just a different level of guys. You've got world champions, you've got top 10 guys, a ton of them in every weight class. ... Obviously having coach Firas Zahabi in my corner has made a world of difference,"
Hawn has his work cut out against the 26-year-old Chandler, one of Bellator's biggest names.
The former All-American wrestler at Missouri won the title in a memorable fight with Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58 in November 2011.
Chandler (10-0) followed that up with a 56-second win over veteran Akihiro Gono at Bellator 67 last May in Rama, Ont.
Hawn (14-1) has won three straight since dropping down to lightweight after a loss to Jay Hieron.
"Fighting an opponent like Chandler, I think regardless of how the fight ends up — whether it's five rounds or one round — it's going to be really exciting," said Hawn.
"You've got two explosive fighters," he added.
Also on the card at the Bren Events Center, Pat Curran (17-4) defends his featherweight title against Brazil's Patricio (Pitbull) Freire (17-1).
Veteran Renato (Babalu) Sobral takes on Mikhail Zayats in the opening round of the light heavyweight tournament.