Michael Chandler is confident he can hang with Islam Makhachev on the ground.
Unfortunately for Chandler, the former three-time Bellator Lightweight champion’s recent defeat to Dustin Poirier in Nov. 2022 pushed him away from his Utimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title hopes. Meanwhile, the current champion, Makhachev, gears up for a champion versus champion match up against Featherweight kingpin, Alexander Volkanovski, at UFC 284 on Feb. 11, 2023.
Despite their different trajectories at present, Chandler insists he’d best the near-unstoppable wrestler, Makhachev, in a pure grappling contest.
“I’m not in a position to talk about how badly I would beat Islam in a wrestling match, but if I was going to wrestle Islam, I do believe [I’d win],” Chandler said on Believe You Me. “They’re just two completely different styles and I didn’t wrestle a lot of international [guys], quite frankly, but I think with the Russian-Dagestani guys that I have wrestled in my gym — that I’m not saying hold a candle to Islam — it’s a different style.
“In my opinion, good old-fashioned American wrestling works very well against it as long as you’re able to withstand that hand-fighting,” he continued. “They are very strong and I imagine Islam is very strong in that hand-fighting category. They just feel different when they grab you. But I think I beat Islam in a wrestling match.”
Chandler will need to work to get his way back into title contention after the aforementioned Poirier setback and to do so “Iron” has targeted Poirier’s old rival, Conor McGregor.