Michael Chandler still has much to prove heading into his lightweight title fight with Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 this coming May and the former Bellator champion is looking to put all doubt to rest with one single punch.
Chandler, who made a huge Octagon debut at UFC 257 with a co-main event knockout finish over Dan Hooker, was in the right place at the right time to land his first official UFC title shot. Following the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov the promotion tried to book an interim lightweight title fight between Oliveira and perennial contender Dustin Poirier, but “Diamond” passed in favor of a trilogy bout with Conor McGregor this July. That left Oliveira without an opponent and Chandler was slotted in.
Heading into the biggest fight of his storied career Chandler is confident that he can get past Oliveira with flying colors. Not only does Chandler believe that Oliveira won’t be able to submit him on the ground, but the veteran lightweight is counting on earning another knockout stoppage in his second UFC appearance.
“Charles Oliveira poses a lot of threats on the ground, but I’ve never even come close to getting submitted,” Chandler told TMZ Sports (shown above). “I’ve got kind of a sixth sense when it comes to the ground game to not be submitted. The best way I would like to go out there and finish him is just to hit him as hard as I can numerous times on the feet. Keep the fight standing, put him in panic mode, knock him out in the first round. If not the first round, dig a little deeper and go into the second, go into the third. He’s a guy who starts to slow down, especially once you start putting the pressure on him. I’m very good at keeping my foot on the gas for 25 minutes, I’ve done it a dozen times now. So man, go out there and knock him out in the first or second round, get my hand raised in front of a huge Houston crowd on May 15th, collect my paycheck, kiss my wife, and figure out what’s next.”
Chandler, 34, has never been submitted throughout his professional MMA career and sports the wrestling to keep things standing against Oliveira. If the fight remains on the feet that will certainly favor Chandler, who has finished his last three pro fights by way of first-round knockout.
That said, Oliveira is not your average lightweight contender and has all the ingredients to become champion. The Brazilian veteran has won his last eight trips to the Octagon and is coming off a suffocating win over Tony Ferguson. Oliveira has also shown improved striking over his past few outings so he could be ready to exchange with Chandler on the feet.
UFC 262 will go down on May 15 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Tex., and will feature a co-main event clash between welterweight contender Leon Edwards and MMA superstar Nate Diaz.