Well, he’s yet to lift the undisputed UFC lightweight championship yet — but that hasn’t prevented former three-time Bellator 155-pound kingpin, Michael Chandler from predicting who he’ll make his first defence of the crown against.
Slated to headline UFC 262 on May 15. — the #4 ranked, Chandler makes his second walk under the UFC’s banner, taking on the #3 rated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu standout, Charles Oliveira for the vacant championship, which was recently relinquished by the retiring, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Matching with the promotion’s most prolific submission artist, Chandler is tasked with snapping the Sao Paulo native’s stunning eight-fight rise through the lightweight ranks, as he takes main event honours to a full attendance at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas.
Predicting who he’ll attempt his first title knockback against, Chandler has claimed that he believes the premier defence of the title will come against former two-weight champion, Conor McGregor — who is widely expected to feature in a rubber-match against former interim titleholder, Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 on July 10.
Speaking with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto this afternoon, Chandler gave his thoughts on McGregor’s possible route to success against Poirier as he attempts to avenge a January knockout loss — which the former believes he will do, before a fall or winter title defence against the Dubliner.
“I think it’s Conor (McGregor),” Chandler replied when asked who he predicts he could stand across in his first title defence if he overthrows Oliveira. “I actually watched, ‘The Detail’ they do on — Daniel Cormier narrates it, and kinda breaks down the fight and I watched it. I think there’s some — just very few little things that Conor can do to win that fight (against Poirier). I think it’s Conor McGregor — I think it’s sometime later this fall or winter. But also, that’s probably wishful thinking.“
“If it’s Dustin Poirier, I’m excited about that opportunity as well,” Chandler explained. “I think I match up with Dustin Poirier better than a lot of those guys in the division — that’s why I called for that fight right away. He said ‘No’, and (Justin) Gaethje said ‘no’, and (Tony) Ferguson said ‘no’ and every single one of these guys had said no. So once I have the title — everyone’s gonna say ‘yes’. We will see, I think it’s going to be — if I put money on it, I think it’s gonna Conor, I think he makes some adjustments — some very small, minor adjustments and he gets the win in that trilogy. At least, that’s what I’m believing, and that’s what my mindset is if I think about who’s gonna win that fight.“
Landing in the promotion in spectacular fashion on the co-main event of UFC 256 in January beneath Poirier vs. McGregor II, Sanford MMA staple, Chandler launched himself into title contention immediately via a first round knockout victory over Dan Hooker — securing a debut victory, and improving his undefeated streak to three-outings.