UFC: Michael Chandler Confident He Beats Khabib And Justin Gaethje
Earlier this month, UFC president Dana White announced that the promotion had signed Michael Chandler, and that he will serve as the backup for the UFC 254 main event, should anything happen to Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje.
Should he be required to step in on October 24th on Fight Island on Yas Island, Abu Dbahi, Chandler will fight for the UFC lightweight title in his promotional debut. A daunting task. Not for the 34 year old however, he believes that he matches up well against both Khabib and Gaethje.
I’m A Better Wrestler Than Khabib
Speaking on an Instagram Live Q&A (as transcribed by MMA Junkie), Chandler stated that Khabib has never fought anyone who could match his wrestling before, and gave himself the advantage in that department over the undefeated champion.
“I think I’m the better wrestler than he is,” Chandler said. “That’s not to disrespect his wrestling. I think he has shown to be the most dominant wrestler in mixed martial arts, the most dominant wrestler in the world. What he does to guys, he comes forward with reckless abandon, pushes you against the cage, picks you up, put you down and puts you in the Dagestani handcuff. Full mount, side guard, crucifix, half guard or in your guard – the guy is dangerous everywhere. … I will say, he’s never, to my knowledge, fought a Division-1, high-level Division 1 wrestler. I don’t think he’s fought anybody who is a Division-I wrestling All-American. There’s just a different breed out there. There’s a different breed between a high school wrestler who got into mixed martial arts and stopped doing wrestling many years ago and a guy like myself, who was a Division-I wrestling All-American.
“The game plan against Khabib – he’s not going to take me down I don’t think. If he takes me down, he’s not going to hold me down. I’m going to be able to take him down unlike everybody else who has been up to fight him. As we saw in the Khabib versus Al Iaquinta fight, when he can’t take you down he starts to resort to a little bit of sporadicism, a little bit of – he gets off his game. A little bit of seeds of doubt get planted in his head because he knows he doesn’t have great striking, he knows his ability to win the fight is predicated on him being able to get in your face, to put you up against the cage and pick you up and hold you down. That’s the game plan: Don’t get taken down. But that’s everybody’s game plan. So I’m going to sit here and say I won’t get taken down. You guys won’t be able to see it until possibly October 24th, or somewhere down the line. Because I will be fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title in the near future. Get ready for it.”
More Power Than Gaethje
While Chandler would obviously prefer to step in and face Khabib at UFC 254 given the choice, given that he’s the champion; he hopes to face Gaethje at some point. And although he believes ‘The Highlight’ looked like the best lightweight on the planet at UFC 249 when he beat Tony Ferguson, the former three-time Bellator lightweight champion thinks he can beat him at his own game inside the Octagon.
“I think Justin Gaethje looked like the best lightweight on the entire planet on the night he fought Tony Ferguson in May,” Chandler said. “He was calm, he was composed, he was sharp, he was throwing combinations to try to take Tony’s head off, but he never got overzealous. He got dropped in the second round, went back to the corner, came back and still stayed composed. He fought like the best lightweight on the entire planet on that night. So the game plan would be, keep my hands up, keep my chin tucked and get into a fist fight with him. I think I can match his cardio, I can go step for step.
“I think I have more power than he does. I think I could string together the wrestling and the grappling and the striking better than he can, and it will be the best fight possibly in UFC history when me and Justin Gaethje step into the cage, and we will step into the cage. I don’t know if it’s going to be for an interim title, I don’t know if it’s going to be for a number one contender spot, I don’t know if it’s just going to be a main event on ESPN at some point down the road. I don’t know when it’s going to be.”
Serving as backup, Chandler hopes nothing happens to either Khabib or Gaethje ahead of the big night, but none-the-less, believes the UFC chose the right man to be on standby for the huge title fight.
“My opponent is to be determined,” Chandler said. “I am the replacement fight, the backup fight on October 24th, the Khabib verse Gaethje card. I by no means want to see either of those guys not make it to the fight, obviously. It’s not good for them, it’s not good for the UFC. But, it’s always good to have a replacement, a fallback in order, and what better guy than me?”
How do you think Michael Chandler fares against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje?