Powerhouse Michael Chandler Now Wants Top-Level UFC Contender

Tony Ferguson & Michael Chandler

Getty Tony Ferguson & Michael Chandler

Nate Diaz is linked to Khamzat Chimaev for UFC 279 on September 10, so that option is off the table for Michael Chandler. And the popular fighter is now eyeing No. 6-ranked UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush.

Chandler is riding the momentum of his brutal knockout over Tony Ferguson at UFC 274 in May. With a promotional record of 2-2, “Iron” is ranked No. 5 in the division and has another shot at UFC gold on his mind.

And to get there, he told TMZ Sports in a recent interview that he’d like to take on Dariush to cement himself as 155 pound’s potential next top contender.

“Next, I wanna put myself in line for the title,” Chandler said via MMA News. “I think, in my mind, Beneil Dariush was in the number one contender spot with him and Makhachev about to fight to become the number one contender. Beneil Dariush is on a four, five, six — no, seven-fight win streak, maybe. So how do you not say that Beneil Dariush might be the number one contender outside of Islam Makhachev?

“Maybe you put me and Dariush in by the end of the year, we end up getting some answers pretty quick. You’ve got your new champion in Makhachev or your current champion in Charles Oliveira, then you get a clear-cut number one contender, me or Beneil Dariush,” Iron continued. “That’s the fight I see with the biggest potential and the best potential for me getting back to the title shot.”

Dariush (21-4-1) is on a seven-fight win streak and last competed in May 2021, defeating Ferguson via unanimous decision at UFC 262. The fighter suffered a leg injury earlier this year, but he told ESPN in March he hopes to return this summer.

Charles Oliveira, who was forced to vacate his belt in May after a botched weight cut, and Islam Makhachev are scheduled to compete for the vacant 155-pound belt on October 22 at UFC 280.

Chandler Would Also Like to Fight Conor McGregor

Iron has made it clear that fighting Conor McGregor is on the top of his MMA bucket list. After knocking out Ferguson, Chandler called out “Notorious” for a welterweight fight.

McGregor is still out after breaking his leg last July, but whenever Notorious is ready to come back, Chandler will be ready to welcome him back.

“If Conor’s coming back anytime soon, I think me and Conor would make some fireworks and it’s a fight that fans want to see,” Chandler said in the TMZ interview. “I think it’s the biggest fight we can make in mixed martial arts right now and I try to say that as humble as possible but I think it’s a huge fight.”

Chandler Understands McGregor Taking His Time for His Comeback

Chandler isn’t trying to rush the Irishman back to the Octagon, admitting that he doesn’t know the extent of what McGregor has gone through since the UFC 264 leg break.

“The guy snapped his leg. It wasn’t a small injury, it required surgery, maybe multiple surgeries, a titanium rod going in, and all that stuff,” Chandler said.

“I’m not gonna throw stones at the guy,” he continued. “I mean the guy completely shattered his leg and it was literally just a year ago. Have people come back quicker than he’s gonna come back? Yes, probably, but also we don’t know the extent of Conor’s injury.”

Chandler is also well aware that that the Irishman is the biggest star in the sport, but regardless, he can’t rush back to fighting after such a gruesome injury.

“The [UFC] and the lightweight division is better when Conor McGregor is a part of it but that being said, he needs to come back at the right time.”

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