Michael Chandler has always been must-see TV. It’s just taken him getting to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to further prove it to the broadest audience.
The former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion has made waves inside the Octagon in just three fights. Despite going 1-2 thus far, the High Ridge, Mo., native has left fans with something thrilling to discuss at the end of each bout.
UFC President, Dana White, has let it be known that the promotion wants Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson next, and if it happens, Chandler still sees a return to title contention as a possibility.
“Do I think I automatically make myself the No. 1 contender by beating Tony Ferguson or winning my next fight?” Chandler questioned on ESPN’s DC & RC (h/t MMA Junkie). “I don’t think so under normal circumstances, but these are not normal circumstances.”
Unfortunately, the highly anticipated Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov match up was never meant to be, which led “El Cucuy” to a three-fight skid starting with Justin Gaethje in May 2020.
Ferguson last fought at UFC 262 in May 2021, the same card where Chandler headlined and challenged Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight crown. A red-hot start for the former Bellator king saw him have Oliveira in a world of trouble only for “Do Bronx” to survive. Coming out fast in round two, Chandler got clipped and finished with strikes when looking to exchange within the first 20 seconds (watch highlights).
Chandler’s most recent bout with Gaethje at UFC 268 in Nov. 2021 was kind of like that just for its entirety. Ultimately, he walked away with his second straight UFC defeat as Gaethje earned the unanimous decision.
But, it sure as hell was fun while it lasted.
“I think everyone wants to see a rematch of myself and Charles Oliveira,” Chandler said. “They want to see — they definitely want to see a rematch, chapter two of the Fight of the Year against myself and Justin Gaethje. So, I’ve kind of put myself in a unique position where I could be one win away, and I get the nod to go out there and win the title by the end of 2022.
“If I gotta fight two more fights, three more fights to get back to the title, that’s what I’m gonna do,” he concluded. “Either way, everybody’s on notice now.”