UFC star Michael Chandler hasn’t captured UFC gold yet at 155 pounds, but the three-time Bellator lightweight champion believes he’s on his way to doing so against Charles Oliveira this weekend in the main event of UFC 262. The 35-year-old is so confident that he’ll snap Oliveira’s eight-fight winning steak that he’s already looking ahead to future superfights against the likes of Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal, and even UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Chandler revealed to TMZ Sports he believes his first title defense will be against the winner of the upcoming July 10 battle between McGregor and Dustin Poirier. After that, Chandler said he could see himself moving up for specific megafights against some of the biggest names at 170 pounds: Diaz, Masvidal and Usman.
“Absolutely,” Chandler told TMZ about becoming the next UFC “champ champ”.
“I mean, I think….thinking about a welterweight title definitely would be reserved for the situation in which I win the title first, then defend it at least once, if not twice. You know…I wanna come into this lightweight division and solidify myself as the top guy, as the premier lightweight.”
UFC 264: Chandler vs. Oliveira takes place on May 15 in Houston.
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Chandler Names First Title Defense: McGregor or Poirier
Chandler can start doing that by beating Oliveira at UFC 262.
He said the athlete in him prefers fighting the winner of UFC 264 but admitted the businessman in him hopes McGregor pulls off the win.
“You know, they’re No. 1 and No. 1A in my book. Honestly, whoever wins that fight,” Chandler said.
Chandler plans on grabbing gold this weekend, then taking his shiny new belt to Poirier vs. McGregor 3 with him to Las Vegas to see who his next opponent will be.
“Dustin Poirier is a heck of a competitor, man. Consummate professional, a great dude [and] a great fighter inside the Octagon…”, Chandler said.
But Chandler knows fighting McGregor would be the bigger and more lucrative fight.
“I want to see Conor come back, man. There’s nothing better than when a guy as big as Conor McGregor falls short, loses and then is able to come back, pull himself back up and win. That’s a huge story…,” Chandler said.
Still, the hopeful UFC lightweight champion said he would be happy with either fight. Besides, none of those plans matter unless Chandler beats Oliveira.
“But all of it hinges on me having a phenomenal performance on May 15, so we take care of business, then we go there July 10, enjoy the weekend in Vegas and see who my next opponent is going to be,” Chandler said.
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Chandler’s Hit List at 170 Includes Usman, Diaz and Masvidal
But Chandler isn’t just thinking about his world domination plans at 155. The fighter admitted he would love the chance to become the next UFC “champ champ” and seems to have thought enough about which fights at 170 pounds interest him the most to bring them up without being prodded.
“There’s no secret. Kamaru Usman is a friend of mine. The dude is an absolute savage. He’s looked unbeatable. He really has lapped the division, and that’s just a testament to him, his hard work. I’ve been around him. I’ve trained with him. Not only is he a phenomenal fighter, but he does things right, he lives the life of a champion. And his performances show that,” Chandler said.
Despite praising the welterweight champion, Chandler said he’s not convinced Usman is a legit welterweight.
“I’ve trained with him. We’ve sparred together. He’s not a huge 170-pounder,” Chandler said.
Of course, neither is Chandler, and he knows it. Still, Chandler envisions scoring big fights against Usman and other top stars in the division.
“I would not be a legitimate size for the welterweight division, but there are definitely some fights at welterweight that I would enjoy. Jorge Masvidal is arguably a 155-pounder. Nate Diaz calls himself a welterweight but he’s really a 155-pounder,” Chandler said.
Still, the MMA star knows he has to take care of business this weekend at UFC 262 first.
“It’s something I’m definitely interested in, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Chandler said.
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