Michael Chandler: UFC Rival Close to Retirement

Michael Chandler, UFC

Getty In this handout image provided by the UFC, Michael Chandler interacts with media during the UFC 257 press conference.

UFC star Michael Chandler believes rival Dustin Poirier might be getting close to retirement.

After a historic finish of Tony Ferguson, Chandler delivered an exciting promo in the post-fight octagon interview in May at UFC 274. He called out Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, and champion Charles Oliveira. But one man he did not name was Poirier. The 33-year-old Louisiana native took issue with his omission as he looked to book his next bout.

Poirier was in attendance for the International Fight Week card of UFC 276 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chandler was also present at the event. The two crossed paths and nearly came to blows after getting into an altercation, needing security and organization staff to separate them.

“Iron” Mike recently discussed the potential outing with Poirier. He believes that the former interim UFC lightweight champion might be nearing the end of his career.

“I do think it stems back from him saying, ‘Instead of fighting Chandler, I’d rather go sell hot sauce,’” Chandler said (ht MMA Fighting). “I took that as a slight, obviously, but since then accidentally really in one interview, I forgot to mention his name inside the title picture.

“But that was because at that time he was talking about retirement, he was talking about never making 155 again, he was talking about going up to 170. He was campaigning hard for the Diaz fight. So in my mind, he had already left the lightweight division.

“I think that’s what kind of set him off or made him not too happy with me, but I’m not really worried about it. I respect him as a fighter. I respect everybody that I’ve fought.”

Chandler Isn’t Sure What Drives Poirier Now

Following a second unsuccessful shot at the promotional gold against Oliveira, Poirier expressed concerns about his future in the division. He indicated a move up to welterweight could be on the horizon and was rallying for a showdown with Nate Diaz.

“I wake up every morning thinking about being a UFC champion,” Chandler said. “I’ve had one crack at it. Dustin’s now had a couple cracks at it. He’s talked about going up to 170. I think it’s hard for him to make the weight. I think he’s talked about retiring.

“He’s talked about passion, he’s talked about desire, does he have it anymore? He’s talked about fighting Nate Diaz. We all know what going after a fight against Nate Diaz [means]. It begs the question — does he truly believe he’s one of the best in the world anymore?”

Chandler Wants To Fight Poirier in December

Talks of the dream matchup started raging after their brief scuffle. UFC president Dana White stated the promotion’s interest in making the fight happen. The latest reports suggest Poirier wanted to compete in November, whereas Chandler preferred it to be a month later.

Chandler explained why he would like to face Poirier in December.

“I think I’ve got his number. I think I’m the guy inside of that fire that will continue to put it on him, and he won’t be able to finish me – he won’t be able to put me away. I’ll match him cardio for cardio, strike for strike, wrestling for wrestling, grappling for grappling, and then it comes down to a battle of wills and I think I win that battle. I think I truly do.”