Former Bellator MMA lightweight champion Michael Chandler doesn’t want there to be any surprises when he captures the 155-pound crown, an opportunity he may get serving as back-up for the UFC 254 pay-per-view (PPV) main event next month in Abu Dhabi.
That’s why “Iron” is laying out his arguments for beating reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as 155-pound interim titleholder Justin Gaethje, who are scheduled to collide on “Fight Island” ... assuming all goes to plan.
“I think I’m a better wrestler than he is,” Chandler said on Instagram Live (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “That’s not to disrespect his wrestling. I will say, he’s never, to my knowledge, fought a high-level Division 1 wrestler. I don’t think he’s fought anybody who is a Division-I wrestling All-American. There’s just a different breed out there. There’s a different breed between a high school wrestler who got into mixed martial arts and stopped doing wrestling many years ago and a guy like myself, who was a Division-I wrestling All-American.”
Chandler was University of Missouri Wrestling Team Captain from 2007–2009, a NCAA Division I All-American in 2009, and a Big 12 Conference Championship runner-up from 2008-2009. He was also High School State Championship runner-up in 2004.
As for Gaethje?
“I think I can match his cardio, I can go step for step,” Chandler continued. “I think I have more power than he does. I think I could string together the wrestling and the grappling and the striking better than he can, and it will be the best fight possibly in UFC history when me and Justin Gaethje step into the cage.”
Chandler (21-5) will remain unbooked until after UFC 254 on Oct. 24 and assuming his services are not needed, there's a solid chance “Iron” will have to battle a top contender (like this guy) before getting his shot at the winner of Khabib-Gaethje.
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Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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