Former three-time Bellator lightweight champion and newly signed UFC contender Michael Chandler said he hasn’t earned a shot to compete against superstar Conor McGregor inside the Octagon. However, he is eyeing a fight with former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Chandler said that although he has not yet earned a fight with McGregor, he feels like stylistically he matches up well with the Irishman.
“Conor McGregor, international combat sports icon,” Chandler said via the outlet. “I hope he really comes back. Obviously first fight in the UFC, I’m not going to be sitting here calling out Conor McGregor. I have not earned that yet but I think I match up extremely well against him.
“I think you avoid that big left hand in the first round. He starts to get a little more flatfooted in the second round. Third round, fourth round, fifth round, I would wear him down and look for a submission victory. Similar to Nate Diaz or what Khabib did to him.”
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Chandler Wants a Fight With Former Interim Champ Justin Gaethje
Gaethje is fresh off losing his interim belt to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 on Saturday. And Chandler wants “The Highlight” to get back to work soon. Chandler cut weight for the October 24 card and weighed in at the championship weight of 155 pounds. If Nurmagomedov or Gaethje had to pull out of the fight, Chandler was set as the official backup fighter.
His services were not needed, however, and Chandler would like to make his promotional debut against The Highlight. Talking to TMZ, Chandler said, “That’s a fight that I’d love for myself and for the fans.”
“It’s a fight that scares me, it’s a fight that gets me excited,” he continued. “It’s a fight that — it gets your juices flowing. If you’re a mixed martial arts fan, a UFC fan, you wanna see us step into the cage together.”
Chandler likes the idea of fighting Gaethje for the vacant lightweight title. After defeating The Highlight, Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring from mixed martial arts. The belt will be vacated in the coming weeks and during his interview, Chandler had a message for UFC president Dana White.
“So, you need a new champion, why not me?” Chandler said.
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Chandler Is the Former Bellator Lightweight Champion, Holds an Impressive MMA Record
Chandler is one of the most exciting acquisitions the UFC has made since signing former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. Chandler has a professional MMA record of 21-5, with nine of his victories coming via KO or TKO and seven via submission.
Besides his first three pro fights, Chandler has fought the entirety of his career in the Bellator cage. He won the lightweight championship three times in the promotion and holds notable victories over the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Patricky Freire.
In his last bout, Chandler knocked out former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the first round of their August bout at Bellator 243. That was the last fight on Chandler’s contract and he signed with the UFC shortly after.