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The next top contender for Mike Chandler's Bellator lightweight crown will be determined March 7 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif., according to a source.
Marcin Held and Dave Jansen are scheduled to meet in the March 7 finals of a tournament that should have been settled last year. However Held, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Jan. 18, did not fight Jansen in mid-December after Indiana gaming officials prevented the young Polish fighter from entering Hammond, Ind.'s, Horseshoe Casino because the venue had a strict 21-and-over age limit.
"The winner gets Chandler," said Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney. "Look, be careful what you wish for."
Chandler (11-0) successfully defended his title for the first time Thursday night in Irvine, Calif., scoring a second-round submission over Rick Hawn.
The 26-year-old champion is familiar with Held (15-2), having survived a dangerous leg lock when they met March 12, 2011, during the opening round of a tournament that preceded Chandler's tremendous title- grabbing effort against Eddie Alvarez.
"He almost ripped my leg off," Chandler recalled.
The European submission specialist has won five straight, three by leg lock, since Chandler strangled him unconscious with an arm-triangle at Bellator 36.
Jansen (19-2), a 33-year-old wrestler from the Portland, Ore., is in the midst of his own five-fight win streak.
"That fight is pretty simple to predict," said the champion. "Held will look for only leg locks. If he catches Jansen he will get the submission. If not, Jansen is a pretty tough dude. I can't wait to fight either of them."
Chandler, however, expressed disappointment regarding the tournament final's March booking, saying he could be ready to fight by spring and did not want to sit for an extended stretch. Ranked No. 8 by ESPN.com at 155 pounds, Chandler said he intends to fight three or four times in 2013.