Former Bellator champion Chandler is coming off a historic knockout victory over Tony Ferguson in May at UFC 274. He is scheduled to face fellow fan favorite Dustin Poirier in his return to action at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Chandler had challenged for the lightweight title under the UFC banner against Charles Oliveira, an outing he lost by TKO at UFC 262 in May 2021. He is confident defeating Poirier will get him back in the mix of title contention, lining him up for the winner of the highly-anticipated title fight between Oliveira and Makhachev at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Makhachev opened the betting favorite over Oliveira despite a lack of top-ranked competition on his resume. The dominant grappler goes into the bout on a 10-fight win streak, having gone undefeated in seven years.
While some believe Makhachev is en route to becoming an all-time great like his mentor, friend, and former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, some are not fully sold on his potential just yet.
Chandler Does Not Buy the Hype: ‘Premature Praise’
Chandler cast doubt on the validity of the competition Makhachev had faced and stated that he was not buying the hype without seeing the Dagestani pass a tough test.
“Nothing against Islam, you say he looks great, you say he looks unbeatable at times, but he hasn’t really fought anybody,” Chandler told MMA Fighting. “That’s really the truth. He beat No. 14 and then he beat Dan Hooker, who was on a three or four-fight losing streak. Now people will say, ‘well, one of your wins was against Dan Hooker, what are you talking about?’
“I fought Dan Hooker at a different time. He had just gone 25 minutes with Dustin Poirier, who at that time was the No. 2 lightweight on the entire planet.”
‘Iron’ Mike believes it would be too early to label Makhachev unbeatable.
“I’m not saying that [Islam] not that good,” Chandler added. “We just can’t say that he’s that good yet. It’s premature praise.”
Makhachev and His Team Hit Back at Chandler
On Sep. 26, Makhachev came across Chandler’s comments and responded in a tweet, “Haha., your only two win in UFC is Hooker who came out of loss, and Tony who has 5 losses in the row now., please shut up and stay in line.”
Ali Abdelaziz, head of Dominance MMA and manager of Makhachev, weighed in to defend his client and criticized Chandler in a series of tweets.
“This man is 2-2 in the ufc should not talk about guys like islam it’s a different level,” Abdelaziz wrote in the first message before adding, “Your two wins in the UFC over guys with a combined record of 1-9 in the last 10 the cloud chaser.”
In his final tweet, Abdelaziz referenced Chandler’s two losses to Will Brooks: “Will Brookes beat this dude 2 times one of them he wave the Refree to stop the fight Patricky he 145 lb put him to sleep is level to this you never been in this level, and you will never be.”