Having compiled an outstanding 12-0 record as an amateur fighter, Coeburn, Virginia’s own Chandler ‘The Hammer’ Cole made the jump to the professional ranks in August 2016. The result? A continuation of winning ways, blistering finishes, and dominant performances. Now 2-0 as a pro, Cole’s fourteen-fight win streak must surely have this ‘small town boy’ on the radar of promotions across the United States – and quite possibly beyond.
But it’s not just victories and performances that Cole delivers. An athlete with a penchant for entertaining crowds, the 22 year old came out for his last fight at Valor Fights 41 wearing a creepy face mask and carrying a sledgehammer – all to the sound of the announcement from The Purge films. It wound up acting as a perfect prelude to a near-flawless outing for ‘The Hammer’, as he blitzed fellow undefeated fighter Phil McGlothlin in just 76 seconds.
The form and content of that win, contested at a catchweight of 225 lbs, was right in line with what Chandler Cole had been delivering since his amateur debut back in 2013. A former high school and collegiate wrestler, Cole has proven himself a takedown specialist with a monstrous top game, a combination that has made quick work of opponents across three weight classes. Having competed anywhere between middleweight and heavyweight, Cole is a seemingly fearless competitor who has been able to assert his physical authority over fighters across a variety of statures.
Speaking to The MMA Vanguard about competing at different weight classes, Chandler said: “I am currently fighting at heavyweight, but I believe middleweight would be the ideal weight for me, we’ll see,” before adding: “I have some cats that are champions or undefeated at heavyweight who’s tail I’m trying to add to the collection,” in typical confident fashion.
That confidence is something that resonates through Chandler both inside and outside the cage. One of the biggest characters on the Southeastern fight circuit, it is testament to Cole’s determination to make a name for himself that he hasn’t yet committed to a drop to 185 lbs full time. Despite routinely giving up significant height and reach statistics due to his 5’10 frame, Cole has yet to meet a fighter that could make the most of their physical advantages – or put a stop to his high pressure M.O..
So how did it all start out for ‘The Hammer’? While Cole makes no bones about the fact he held aspirations of competing at the highest level in college wrestling, that particular dream did not come to pass. But like all great fighters, Chandler turned that particular disappointment into a positive, and was soon on the path to a new stage on which to shine; mixed martial arts.
“When I was in high school I would go down to Team Fast (MMA gym) and wrestle with their fighters to put in some extra work leading into the State Tournament,” he told The MMA Vanguard. “After high school I got up with a local MMA promotion and let them know I was interested in fighting.”
The rest, as they say, is history. A string of submission wins, often by strikes, got Cole’s amateur career off to a perfect start – and as the opponents got tougher, ‘The Hammer’s’ strikes landed harder. By the time Cole could lay claim to an 11-0 amateur record strewn with TKO victories, he was in line to face one of the top-ranked fighters on the Southeast fight scene – middleweight contender Matt Foley.
While Cole missed weight, the tough cut didn’t seem to affect his performance. A dominant first round saw Cole score takedowns at will, use the fence to press and trap his opponent, and land strikes with unerring accuracy. The second and third rounds were little different. Cole pressed forward relentlessly, severely restricting Foley’s offence in the process, and earning a clear cut unanimous decision win. It would prove to be the fight that convinced Cole to switch it up and turn professional. So what did Cole learn from his 12-0 run to that point? “The main thing that the amateur level taught me was how to control my nerves before a fight,” he told us. Certainly not a bad bit of learning, and something that is evident in Cole’s burgeoning pro career.
Robert Bennett, then, an 11-fight veteran, would be the one charged with rolling out the welcome wagon at light heavyweight, and after just half a round, probably wished he hadn’t been. Bennett would wind up submitting to strikes (a familiar theme in Cole’s career) at 2:27, though Chandler himself wasn’t overly impressed with his display: “My fight with Robert Bennett wasn’t a good performance by any means,” Chandler told us. “I was very sloppy with my stand up and was winging a lot of punches. I’m just glad I was the better athlete for that fight. I knew I would finish him, [but for a while] I just didn’t know how.”
Seven months later, though, Cole would put things right performance-wise by making short work of McGlothlin, moving himself up the rankings in the process. “I always have that ‘finish the fight’ mindset,” Cole says, “Out of the fourteen fights I have had, thirteen of them have been stopped.” McGlothlin certainly couldn’t do anything to stand in the way of that record.
So what is Chandler does, exactly, that leads to such an impressive fight finishing rate? “I work on a really fast wrestling style,” he tells us, “That has been my bread and butter for me in my career this far.” The MMA Vanguard can certainly attest to the effectiveness of that strategy – and future opponents will be hard-pressed to deflect the high-pressure offensive headed their way.
While those opponents are yet to be determined, Chandler knows where he is right now, and what he needs to do to get there. In a closing statement with The MMA Vanguard, Chandler told us: “I am just training and learning like crazy right now. The main goal is to be the best in the world one day. I know I can do anything I set my mind to.”
The MMA Vanguard will be not be taking exception to that!