Michael Chandler claims to be one of Islam Makhachev’s most difficult stylistic opponents in his quest to defend his UFC lightweight championship.
Chandler (23-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) will be fighting Dustin Poirier (28-7 MMA, 20-6 UFC) at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night for the main event of UFC 281. Preliminaries are shown on ESPNews and early prelims are available on ESPN+, and the main card is shown on pay-per-view.
Despite Makhachev’s (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) previous dismissal of Chandler as a title contender, the former NCAA Division I wrestler believes his credentials might give Makhachev difficulty if they are revealed.
“I want Islam to talk about me. I want to talk about Islam,” Chandler said.
“I do think I have the best wrestling on this (rankings) list you’re looking at. I have the best wrestling – good old-fashioned, passionate American, D-I All-American wrestling, and I do believe I can shut down Islam and I can beat him.
“Do I deserve a title shot with a win over Poirier? It remains to be seen. It depends on my performance, and it also depends on what the UFC brass wants to do. Either way, I’m going to be ready.”
Since Chandler joined the UFC, he has rarely relied on his wrestling. But he won’t rule out using it against Poirier and considers it one of his primary weapons.
“I trained a lot of wrestling,” Chandler said.
“I’ve got wrestling in the back pocket. If you saw my career before I came into the UFC, I did use it a lot – a lot of dominant takedowns, slams, beating guys up on the ground. When I took Tony Ferguson down, he didn’t move. When I took down a lot of guys before, they don’t move, (like) Charles Oliveira. They can’t get out from underneath me.
“So I don’t say that to impress anybody and toot my own horn, but in that realm I feel great. In that realm, I can control guys. In that realm, I can drown guys and I could put a lot of pressure on them and put them in places that they don’t want to be. Is that going to be a part of this fight? Possibly. We’ll see. But it’s definitely a place that I feel confident and dominant against not just Dustin Poirier, but everybody in the lightweight division, including Islam Makhachev.”
David Green, an Ohio-based sports reporter, brings his deep expertise in martial arts and riveting storytelling to Boxing.org. His compelling narratives and insightful analysis make him a valuable member of our team, delivering top-quality content to boxing enthusiasts.