UFC: Michael Chandler Calls Out Tony Ferguson And Justin Gaethje
UFC newcomer Michael Chandler is itching for a fight and already has two former interim champions on his hit-list. The 34-year-old, who recently signed with the promotion after almost a decade in Bellator, served as the backup for the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, but wasn’t needed.
With Khabib potentially retired, the UFC’s lightweight division has some interesting matchups to offer. According to several reports, Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier is almost a done deal for UFC 257 on January 23rd.
Ferguson Or Gaethje
Given that McGregor and Poirier appear to be out of his reach for now, Chandler has set his sights on a classic showdown against either Tony Ferguson or Gaethje, with the former being his first choice. Speaking on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (as transcribed by MMA Fighting), the former Bellator champion explained why he wants to fight ‘El Cucuy’ or ‘The Highlight’ in his UFC debut.
“Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje would be number one and number two of the guys I want to fight,” Chandler said. “I think it’s a great introductory fight to the UFC fans of who Michael Chandler is. They’re both great fights, they’re both guys who fight. As you guys have seen who watched my fights, guys who run away, that’s the best way to try to beat me is to try to run away from my pressure. Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson are going to meet me in the middle of the Octagon and we’re going to have a blast. So either of those guys sounds like a great fight.”
“I Don’t Think I’m Being Entitled”
While some fans believe he needs to prove himself before facing the top guys in the UFC 155lbs division, Chandler begs to differ. The Sanford MMA representative says that he has fought against the toughest competition in Bellator, and deserves a top-five guy in the UFC.
“I think if we do look at the past as a predictor of the future or right now, you look at Ben Askren, he drew Robbie Lawler right away,” Chandler said. “High profile fight, top-five guy. You look at Justin Gaethje coming over a couple years ago from WSOF which, no shade towards them at the time or his track record, but my resume, some of the fights and wins I have, and Bellator as an organisation, I think, is a step above where he came from, he also drew a top-five guy right away in Michael Johnson. So I don’t think I’m being entitled by coming in and saying I would like a top-five guy right away.”
Despite having full faith in his talents and abilities, Chandler believes that there is some work to be done before he gets a title shot, particularly when the division has the biggest, most polarising name in the sport in Conor McGregor.
“That’s the UFC’s job to make that decision,” Chandler said. “Let’s be honest, I share a division with the biggest name in combat sports. The most polarising guy we may ever see and his name is Conor McGregor. So if Conor McGregor is in the weight class, and there needs to be an interim belt, chances are he could be fighting for it and I don’t fault the UFC for that. I realise I’m the new guy, the lowest guy on the pecking order. I just want to come in and earn it.”
After knocking out former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the first round at Bellator 243, in which proved to be his last fight in the promotion, Chandler predicted that he would finish McGregor inside two rounds.
How do you think Michael Chandler fares against Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and Conor McGregor?