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Michael Chandler: ‘Dustin Poirier was the first fight I tried to get in UFC’

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In an interview with Jim Rome, ‘Iron Mike’ talks Dustin Poirier and the Lightweight title fight he think needs to go down after their wins at UFC 257.

UFC 257: Hooker v Chandler Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Dustin Poirier is the biggest winner coming out of UFC 257. Not only did he knockout Conor McGregor in spectacular fashion, he earned pay-per-view (PPV) points on one of the biggest cards in UFC history. He’s now set up with some pretty great options for his next fight: fight for the Lightweight title, fight Nate Diaz in a big feud money fight, or rematch McGregor for mega bucks.

Second in line right behind Dustin is Michael Chandler, who went from being out of options in Bellator to one of the top fighters in a crowded 155-pound division with his own knockout win over Dan Hooker. Now, he’s an extremely hot commodity, as proven by this recent appearance on the Jim Rome Show.

“I feel extremely blessed that a couple of dead end roads in my career led to this great opportunity as co-main event on one of the biggest pay-per-views in UFC history,” Chandler said. “And there was a lot of times where I thought the door opening to the UFC wasn’t going to happen. Turns out it did happen, and turns out I got a great opportunity. Turns out I took full advantage of that opportunity and now here I am talking to Jim Rome. So it’s a good life.”

Following the win, UFC President, Dana White, said Poirier vs. Chandler for the vacant 155-pound title was the fight to make. Unfortunately, it’s a bout that Dustin Poirier declared he had no interest in.

But, Chandler certainly wants it.

“That is definitely a fight that interests me,” he said. “To be honest with you, Dustin Poirier was the first fight I tried to get inside the UFC. I think I match up extremely well against him, I got a ton of respect for that man inside the Octagon and outside the Octagon. He’s a champion in his own right, I got to watch him cageside go and put away Conor McGregor, one of the greatest of all time.”

“At this point, the performances we both put on warrant that next shot. Look, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the greatest to ever do it, but we all know he’s stepping away. Let him step away, let’s relinquish the belt, let’s put it on the line between me and Dustin Poirier in the next quarter. And I promise you after that fight I will be the UFC champion. I hope that’s the one that happens and hopefully we can celebrate after.”

Right now the two big topics of conversation are McGregor’s loss, and then the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren boxing match. As a former training partner of Askren, Rome asked Chandler his thoughts. Unsurprisingly, “Iron Mike” has things going Askren’s way.

“Jake Paul is not a great boxer,” Chandler said. “Ben Askren is not a great boxer. Ben Askren’s ... quite frankly, the weakest of his attributes is his ability to strike on the feet. But I think depending on the referee, depending on the ruleset, depending on how the promotion is set up, Ben is going to be able to get his hands on Jake, do some dirty boxing, some underhooks. Some pushing, some pulling.”

“You’re going to see — and I think Ben may be penalized for it, Ben may be pulled off him, may be broken up a lot. But you’re going to see Ben close the distance, Ben put his hands on him, Ben wearing out Jake Paul. Because there’s a difference between boxing at distance, throwing punches, and having a guy in your face putting pressure on you, pushing you back against the ropes. Yes it’s boxing, but Ben knows how to move, maneuver, and manipulate another human body with his hands.

“So it’ll be interesting to watch the dirty boxing, the clinch game, and Ben’s toughness,” Chandler concluded. “We saw Ben get knocked out cold, but King Kong would have gotten knocked out by that Jorge Masvidal knee. Ben traditionally has a phenomenal chin, a great chin, and the wherewithal to push Jake Paul around the ring for eight three minute rounds. Mark my words, I think he knocks Jake Paul out late into the fight.”