Michael Chandler is ready to right his early Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wrongs.
The former three-time Bellator Lightweight champion wasted no time challenging for UFC gold upon his Jan. 2021 arrival. Starching Dan Hooker in two minutes and 30 seconds in his debut, Chandler then went on to battle for the vacant title opposite Charles Oliveira.
Chandler came up short in the end, but found some great success early on, surviving on the ground against the dangerous jiu-jitsu wizard. “Iron” is 1-1 in his outings since the clash and now braces for a massive match up against Dustin Poirier at UFC 281 on Nov. 12, 2022, that he believes can get him right back to the peak of 155 pounds.
“I’ve still got my sights set on becoming world champion,” Chandler told The MMA Hour. “I think I beat Dustin on Nov. 12, I think I’m the next guy in line. I fight Islam [Makhachev] or Oliveira, first quarter of next year or summer of next year. Whenever that fight materializes, and I’m your world champion by middle of next year.”
Chandler and Poirier’s highly anticipated showdown goes down a couple of weeks after UFC 280 on Oct. 22, 2022. The event’s headliner will see a new Lightweight titleholder crowned when the aforementioned Oliveira and Islam Makhachev finally cross paths.
Despite losing the title ahead of his recent victory against Justin Gaethje in May 2022, Oliveira looked better than ever on fight night and is still viewed by most as the true champion. Therefore, the betting odds heading into the meeting have come as somewhat of a surprise. For Chandler, he doesn’t quite understand.
“I think Charles wins that fight,” Chandler said. “I think it’s crazy that Islam is a favorite. I would say aside from Charles Oliveira not making weight in the last fight, which was obviously unprofessional, the guy has looked very, very good. Finishing guys, his hands have come a long, long way, and just his overall confidence.
“He’s our champion, not technically, but he’s in everybody’s eyes our champion for a reason,” he concluded. “I think he goes out there and beats Islam handedly.”