Michael Chandler believes he’s still in the thick of things atop the UFC’s lightweight division and he may be right.
Chandler, who is 1-1 inside of the Octagon thus far, is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Charles Oliveira in a lightweight title fight at UFC 262 earlier this month. It was a tough loss to swallow considering Chandler had “Do Bronx” badly hurt in the first round and nearly finished the fight. Oliveira eventually came back and quickly stopped Chandler moments into the second.
Despite the loss, Chandler believes he showed enough in his fight with Oliveira to stay afloat atop the 155-pound division. The former Bellator MMA lightweight champion still holds a knockout win over Dan Hooker so he shouldn’t pay too dearly for his recent defeat to “Do Bronx.” After all, Oliveira was on an eight-fight win streak heading into his clash with Chandler.
While Chandler remains a consummate professional who always takes a loss like a champion he believes he did enough against Oliveira to warrant an immediate rematch.
“There’s a case to be out there, and I’ve seen a lot of people say maybe an immediate rematch,” Chandler told MMA Junkie. “There’s a case to be made that I have one fight and beat any other guys in the top five, and I’m right there. I do believe I’m a big player at this point. I do believe I’m world-class. I do believe I’m just as good as any of these guys. I do believe that Charles Oliveira beats anybody else in the top five. You look at him against (Dustin) Poirier, you look at him against Conor (McGregor), you look at him against (Justin) Gaethje. I mean that’s a tough test for anybody, so losing to Charles Oliveira doesn’t make a me a guy that shouldn’t be fighting for a world title anytime soon.
“At this point, I don’t put any limits on what could happen. Immediate rematch could be a possibility, who knows? One fight could be a possibility, and then I’m fighting for the world title again by first quarter of next year. I’m not putting limits on anything. Obviously I have a limited time period. I’m not going to be here for a ton longer, so I want to get that title shot again before the end of next year. Either way, I’m willing to cut my teeth. I’m willing to re-build.”
Chandler, 35, remains one of the best lightweights in the world. He’s one of the most accomplished fighters in Bellator history and clearly has the chops to compete alongside the top 5 lightweights on the UFC roster. In fact, the promotion contacted Chandler after his loss to Oliveira to ensure him he’s still a major player at 155 pounds.
“On Monday, I heard from the UFC,” Chandler said. “They called me and said, ‘Keep your head up. You’re right there in the mix. Phenomenal fight. You almost beat the eventual world champion. You’re right there in the mix, and we’re going to get you another top five guy.’
“I got a lot of fun fights ahead of me, but I want to take a little bit of time off. I’ve been doing nothing but working since September when I signed with the UFC, and I think a couple months (away) from MMA training will be good. I’m going to keep my cardio high, my strength and conditioning going and keep taking care of my body.”
While Chandler continues to say he doesn’t have a lot of time left to become a UFC world champion he’s only one win away from putting himself back in contention. The downfall of perennial contender Tony Ferguson could certainly help Chandler’s chances moving forward, but other guys like Beneil Dariush, Islam Makhachev, and Gregor Gillespie are on the rise. Chandler won’t have any room for another mistake down the line.
What say you, Maniacs? Will Chandler one day fight for the UFC lightweight title again? If so, how long before that happens?
Let us know in the comments below!