Set to share the Octagon with former interim UFC lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier on November 12. in Madison Square Garden, division contender, Michael Chandler is certainly viewing the anticipated matchup as a title-eliminator within the stacked 155lbs ranks.
Competing for the vacant lightweight title last year, Chandler, the current #5 ranked lightweight contender, headlined in May of 2021 against former undisputed champion, Charles Oliveira, suffering an early second round knockout loss despite winning the opening frame courtesy of a knockdown.
In the time since, Chandler would drop a unanimous decision loss against common-opponent, Justin Gaethje, before returning to the winner’s enclosure with a devastating second round knockout win over Tony Ferguson in May of this year – finishing the Oxnard veteran with a stunning front kick KO.
As for Poirier, the UFC 281 clash against Chandler will come as his first Octagon walk since he headlined UFC 269 back in December of last year in a losing effort against the aforenoted, Oliveira – himself giving up a third round standing rear-naked choke defeat.
Michael Chandler still maintains Dustin Poirier disrespected him first in their rivarly
With the division contenders sharing a distinct rivalry ahead of the November matchup – which required the two of them to be separated as a summer pay-per-view event on fighter row, Chandler has played down their differences, but insists Poirier disrespected him first and foremost.
“I think there’s just a tug of war between two dudes who’ve got the same goal,” Michael Chandler said of his rivalry with Dustin Poirier during an interview with MMA Junkie reporter, Danny Segura. “His goal is to step in the Octagon and beat me and get his hand raised and continue to prove that he’s one of the best in the world. I have the exact same goal.”
“There’s some things that have been said,” Michael Chandler explained. “He disrespected me right away and said he’d rather sell hot sauce [than fight me]. I said I’m a bigger draw than him. We’ve said some things that maybe we do believe, maybe we don’t really believe. Maybe it was something we got caught up in the moment on these microphones.”
Explaining recently how he would still choose a title fight ahead of a sought-after fight against former two-weight champion, Conor McGregor, Chandler maintains he would land a title show first, should he defeat Poirier in the Big Apple.
“He’s a consummate just dog,” Michael Chandler said of Poirier. “He just goes hard. But we’ve put together a great game plan. I trained with one of his former coaches and some of his former teammates. I’ve been at (American Top Team) and trained at ATT years ago as he got Mike Brown in his corner, who is a genius. He’s got these guys who know me and my style well. I know him and his style well.”
“There’s an immense amount of tape out there on him,” Michael Chandler said. “There’s a decent amount of tape out there on me. So may the best man win on November 12. But I can tell you this: I’m coming to put my foot on the gas and get that title shot that I think I will have after I win.”
In his UFC debut back in January of last year, Chandler, a former three-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion, stopped Dan Hooker with a series of first round strikes on ‘Fight Island’.