Michael Chandler feels vindicated with title shot in UFC second fight: ‘I was a guy who said yes while a lot of guys said no’
Michael Chandler wasn’t sure exactly what would happen to him after tearing Dan Hooker apart on his UFC debut in January.
After a 10-year career with Bellator MMA, the former two-time lightweight champion for promotion opted to sign with the UFC after reaching free agency. It took a while to book his first fight, but Chandler certainly took advantage of it by knocking out Hooker within three minutes of the first round.
Afterward, Chandler was equally impressive on the mic as he informed every lightweight in the UFC that a new suitor had arrived and he was ready to start ticking off names off his roster as he looked for the opportunity to become. champion.
Little did he know at the time that he would only have to wait a few weeks as the UFC offered Chandler the chance to face Charles Oliveira with the vacant title up for grabs after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired. While some lamented that Chandler didn’t deserve the chance to compete for gold in the UFC with just one fight under his belt with the promotion, he was quick to point out an impressive resume that goes way beyond the octagon.
Add to that, Chandler promised the UFC that he would give them the same answer every time they called to ask him anything, including the title fight on May 15.
“The people who say yes, the people who are ready to jump in, the people who are ready to do the job and raise their hands when everyone is covering their heads, these people are usually rewarded for that and the UFC has done well by me so far, ”Chandler said while speaking to MMA Fighting.
“It was a pleasure to be signed by the UFC. It’s been a pleasure since day one and I imagine it will be even more of a pleasure after I get that UFC title strapped around my waist.
Chandler has built his career on a willingness to take on challenges that others may have shied away from in the past.
He felt this after signing with the UFC when many lightweights mocked Chandler as a possible opponent and then as a potential replacement in a title fight between Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje from last october.
Rather than complaining, Chandler just played the cards he was dealt and which resulted in a first round knockout and a call asking him to get into a title fight on his second appearance with the promotion. .
“I was a guy who said yes a lot when a lot of guys said no,” Chandler said. “Almost everyone in the top five said no to a fight against me except Dan Hooker and I tip my hat and congratulate him for taking that fight on January 23rd. He’s a hell of a competitor, I know he’ll come back. but I was happy to have the knockout that night.
“With Conor [McGregor] and [Dustin] Poirier doing their trilogy, we didn’t really know where Justin Gaethje was. I think that makes a lot of sense. Charles Oliveira as a competitor he’s as tough as it gets.
When he sees Oliveira as an opponent, Chandler will face an 11-year UFC veteran on an eight-game winning streak, including an uneven victory over former interim champion Tony Ferguson in his last outing.
In his current run, Oliveira has finished seven of eight opponents and he holds the record for the most submission wins in UFC history with 14.
“Charles is a salty and cunning veteran,” Chandler said. “He’s a guy who’s been inside that octagon dozens of times now. He was often in the octagon. He has a lot of experience. He’s great on the pitch. He showed he was improving on the feet. He is dangerous everywhere. It’s a dangerous fight. It’s an exciting fight.
“I feel like we’re going to see the best version of Charles Oliveira. Anytime you get a chance to step into that octagon and compete for gold in the UFC, you’ll see the best version of Charles Oliveira, but you’ll also see the best version of myself. This is what I’ve been working on outside of the UFC for 12 years and now, for six months, I’ve been signed with the UFC, working to get into the title image, to compete for the title. Now we are there.
Oliveira was completely dominant as she made her way through the competition to win the title, but Chandler can only promise it will be the toughest test the Brazilian has faced in some time.
“So far the fans have only seen two and a half minutes of my performance. Wait until you see Rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5, ”Chandler said. “I participated in these championship rounds. I’ve been in 25 minute wars. I’ve been in deep and deep water with some top level championship guys. Two former UFC champions – Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson. The guys who held belts in the UFC. I’ve been in knockdown, dragging wars. I have won the fight of the year several times. I thrive on it.
“If Charles Oliveira lets go at all, there’s a good chance he’ll finish. I don’t know how long he will be able to keep his foot on the accelerator. I know I’m going to keep my foot on the accelerator for 25 minutes.
In many ways, Chandler wrote the perfect start to his UFC career leaving only Scorched Earth under Hooker after sending him to the first round. Now that he’s gearing up to compete for gold in the UFC in his second fight, Chandler can only hope he scores an equally spectacular end this time around, too.
“I step out into a crowded arena in Houston, Texas, 19,000 red, white and blue Americans chanting my name, supporting me,” Chandler described. “I go over there and I immediately enter Charles Oliveira’s face and he will realize and feel from the first exchange, from the pressure I put on him, he will immediately start to question himself. He will immediately begin to overreact. He will immediately begin to worry about his legs. I’ll go to his head. I’ll go to his legs. I will go to his body. I’ll mix things up. A punch will land, he will have his clock cleaned.
“He’s going to wake up to the bright lights of me standing on top of the cage about to raise my hand and put UFC gold around my waist. This is how it’s going to be. I predict it will be in the first round. Then I predict a phenomenal end in 2021 and then we’re going to be carrying this baby for a few years.