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UFC 281: Michael Chandler cancels Makhachev-Volkanovski, plans his own lightweight title fight for ‘early 2023’

UFC 281 Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Islam Makhachev vs. Alex Volkanovski? Not if Michael Chandler has anything to say about it.

“Iron” was impressed by the Dagestani’s victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 last month in Abu Dhabi, but also believes the newly-crowned champion should first handle business in his own division before entertaining any pound-for-pound super fights at UFC Perth.

Perhaps Makhachev still has something to prove.

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CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“I think he has to have his first title defense against a lightweight,” Chandler said during the UFC 281 media day festivities (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “He needs to get through another lightweight before they start talking about superfights. Once again, I don’t say that to say that the UFC is making a bad decision or the wrong decision if they make that decision to let Volkanovski move up, but I think when I handle business on Saturday night it will be undeniable that they’re going to want to see good, ol’ fashioned, passion and American wrestling versus Dagestani Sambo, Dagestani grappling. That’s what I hope we get to see.”

In order to see that potential matchup Chandler will first need to dispose of longtime lightweight contender Dustin Poirier on the UFC 281 pay-per-view (PPV) main card this Sat. night (Nov. 12, 2022) at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

After that? Chandler vs. Makhachev in “early 2023.”

“I honestly think my wrestling will stop his attacks,” Chandler continued. “I think I can take him down. I think I can match him grappling for grappling and I think in the striking department I’ve got more power, I’m faster, and I have better hands. That’s me speaking confidently, obviously, a ton of respect for him. But I do think it’s the most intriguing matchup in the lightweight division. There’s not a better wrestler on the lightweight roster than me. My credentials speak for themselves, being a Division-I All-American is kind of the epitome of wrestling accomplishment. So I think I match up extremely well. I think I beat him, but that’s what we all say. That’s what Charles said, that’s what I said about Charles. So hopefully we see that fight early 2023.”

Get those eviction notices ready. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPNews at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 281: “Adesanya vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the complete UFC 281 fight card and PPV line up click here.

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