Michael Chandler’s dream is coming true.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is set for possibly its biggest season since season 10 in 2009. The 31st installment of the long-running series will air on the ESPN network, featuring the return of former two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion, Conor McGregor, as he coaches against former three-time Bellator Lightweight kingpin, Chandler. McGregor first coached the show on season 21, and unlike that season against Urijah Faber, McGregor is expected to compete at the end of TUF 31 versus Chandler.
Whenever McGregor is involved with a pay-per-view (PPV) event as the guaranteed main event, there’s a big interest. This next appearance for “The Notorious” will be his first in action since breaking his leg in July 2021 against Dustin Poirier (watch highlights).
“If you look at the numbers, I think two million [buys], it’s not just a possibility, I think it’s very achievable and very attainable,” Chandler told The MMA Hour. “It’s hard for me to toot my own horn, but I think what I’ve created is a level of intrigue and mystique that when I show up on fight night and that cage door closes, all hell breaks loose and my foot is on the gas. I haven’t seen a brake pedal at all since I signed with the organization. Honestly, since I started fighting.
“It’s just continued to build and build and build,” he concluded. “So you look at why this fight got made, Conor knows it’s going to do big numbers.”
UFC has only eclipsed 2 million PPV buys once, and that was for McGregor’s blood feud against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Oct. 2018, selling 2.4 million PPVs for UFC 229.
Chandler has always been must-see television as a fighter, but he’s ramped things up to an even more chaotic degree as part of UFC’s roster. “Iron” has lived exclusively on PPV in front of the bright lights and big crowds. In this match up, he sees no way excitement isn’t delivered.
“Everybody is tuning in,” Chandler said. “Everybody is buying the pay-per-view for that night, that moment, that opportunity, and you couple that with the opportunity to be on ESPN the network for a month and a half, two months, every Tuesday night or whatever it’s going to be — people are going to be tuning in and the tension’s going to be palpable and the buildup and leadup to this thing, could be the biggest pay-per-view that we’ve ever seen.
“Obviously, I am a wishful thinker,” he added. “I have confident expectancy for myself to show up and build this thing. Conor knows how to build things. So we’re about to have a blast.”