One of the running critiques heading into the UFC 262 main event, or any Michael Chandler fight for that matter, is the tired “he got knocked out by a featherweight” narrative, which references Chandler’s stunning, first-round upset at the hands of Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire back in May 2019.
I understand why UFC rivals use that sort of attack in their pre-fight hype, it’s a reliable cheap shot that plays to casual viewers who probably don’t know any better. But if you consider yourself a longtime fan of combat sports and continue to parrot that same line ... then you sound like a dummy and should pipe down.
If you think getting finished by a savage like Freire is something to be ashamed of, you’re probably a “UFC fan” who doesn’t watch Bellator MMA, which is fine, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to fandom.
Those who do watch recognize that “Pitbull” is an elite, two-division champion who could probably smash a lot of UFC lightweights, racking up 11 knockouts and 12 submissions in 32 wins, 20 of which came under the Bellator banner.
And for the record, Freire weighed 154.7 pounds for Bellator 221 against 154.8 for Chandler.
Let’s face it, plenty of featherweights move up and lay waste to top lightweights, like Dustin Poirier, who registered a dozen bouts at 145 pounds. And yet nobody makes fun of Justin Gaethje ahead of each big fight ... “lol bro you got knocked out by a featherweight.”
The landscape has dramatically changed over the last few years and there are no more “gimme” fights, regardless of where you compete. Demetrious Johnson, considered one of the best to ever compete, was recently crushed by Adriano Moraes in ONE Championship.
Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, meanwhile, was beaten in his PFL debut.
Chandler, 35, is not a perfect fighter. And there’s a very real possibility he loses to fellow lightweight contender Charles Oliveira in the UFC 262 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this Sat. night (May 15, 2021) inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
The 31 year-old Oliveira has scored 19 wins by submission and another eight by knockout.
“You just have to be ready for anything,” Chandler told Yahoo Sports. “Most of the time, when you’re fighting a guy with great knockout power, you have to watch out for his right hand or his great left hook or you have to watch for a really great guillotine on the ground or a knee bar.”
Oliveira’s unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 was the first time “Do Bronx” has seen the scorecards in over six years, a span of 15 fights.
“Charles Oliveira knows how to finish you in any aspect of the grappling department,” Chandler continued. “For me, I’ve worked a lot on it. I’m notorious for being able to have a sixth sense inside those grappling exchanges, mainly because of my wrestling background and now in the sport of mixed martial arts, keeping my limbs short and keeping my neck tucked and staying explosive and athletic in those positions.”
Chandler has yet to be submitted in 27 fights.
The winner of Chandler vs. Oliveira, which is being contested across five rounds for the 155-pound title recently vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov, is likely to move on to fight the winner of Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor.
And run the risk of getting “knocked out by a featherweight.”
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