Michael Chandler Declines UFC Fight Challenge: ‘No Thanks’

Michael Chandler

Getty Michael Chandler

Former three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler isn’t interested in rising UFC contender Arman Tsarukyan’s callout.

Tsaryukyan earned the highest profile victory of his 19-3 professional mixed martial arts career in December when he bested Damir Ismagulov via unanimous decision. Tsarukyan is currently ranked No. 8 in the official UFC standings, and he’s made it clear he wants to snatch Chandler’s No. 5 spot.

Tsarukyan took to Twitter on January 27 to knock Chandler’s fighting IQ while also challenging him to contest. “Hey @MikeChandlerMMA it’s time to defend your rankings!” Tsarukyan wrote. “Lowest fight IQ in the division against new mma generation. I won’t see you at the top.”

Although “Iron” has a credentialed wrestling background, the former UFC 155-pound title challenger has elected to mostly strike than initiate grappling for his Octagon appearances — and considering he has ferocious power, the aggressive Chandler is considered one of the most exciting combatants in the promotion. He’s been awarded either “Fight of the Night” or “Performance of the Night” in four of his five UFC fights.

Chandler Wants Conor McGregor Next, Dismissed Tsarukyan

Appearing on ex-UFC middleweight king Michael Bisping’s “Believe You Me” podcast this week, Chandler was asked about Tsarukyan’s comments. And in short, Chandler dismissed Tsarukyan. Iron’s number one priority is being Conor McGregor’s comeback opponent, and with the Irishman teasing that he’s accepted a position as a coach on an upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Chandler said he wants to stand opposite “Notorious” on the UFC’s long-running reality competition show.

“I didn’t respond, because — I mean — I haven’t even seen him fight,” Chandler said. “Not disrespecting or whatever.

“I know he fought (Mateusz) Gamrot,” he continued. “I haven’t really seen Gamrot fight either. I appreciate the callout. That’s exactly what I would do if I was him. But, no thanks, man. I’m over here talking about Conor [McGregor] and [‘The Ultimate Fighter’]. You think I’m worried about freaking Arman Tsarukyan with a silent ‘T’ at the beginning of his name?”

Chandler went on to call it a “good callout,” but stated: “that’s not how you get a fight with me.”

Matt Brown Thinks Chandler Is Just ‘Fighting for the Fans’

This is not the first time Chandler’s fighting strategy has been questioned. Longtime UFC veteran Matt Brown said to MMA Fighting earlier this month that Iron was “fighting for the fans” instead of battling opponents with a sound strategy.

“He needs to fix his strategy,” Brown said. “In my particular style, that’s just how I fight. That’s how I beat guys. I go in, I wear them out, I make it a tough fight, kind of a Dustin Poirier kind of thing. We go in, we make it dirty, make it grimy, and guys get worn out and overwhelmed by it.

“Now Michael Chandler, we get the feeling — at least me and you and the people watching — he doesn’t have to do that. He is fighting for the fans. There’s basically two different ways to fight. Do you want to fight for the fans or do you want to fight for yourself and win?”

Brown went on to compare Chandler to Arturo Gatti, a boxer known as an action fighter who would embrace wars instead of taking measured approaches to bouts.

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