At UFC 257, Michael Chandler made one of the greatest UFC debuts of all time when he knocked out Dan Hooker in the very first round. The fact that this was in the co-main event of a Conor McGregor pay-per-view no doubt helped his UFC stock rise instantly. After the fight, Chandler’s fellow Bellator colleague Patricio “Pitbull” Freire said the victory showed Bellator’s strength. Others were not convinced.
When it was announced that Chandler would be competing for the vacant UFC lightweight championship against Charles Oliveira, this presented a clear opportunity for Chandler to showcase what he’s been capable of while he was over at Bellator. In fact, Bellator President Scott Coker labeled the fight between Oliveira and Chandler to be a “UFC vs. Bellator fight.”
Chandler Responds To Naysayers Who Thinks He’s Not UFC Elite
Now that Chandler has lost, there will inevitably be backlash from people who think this proves that Bellator fighters are not UFC level and that Chandler is not truly ready to dance among the UFC’s elite.
At the UFC 262 press conference, Chandler took the time to preemptively address these naysayers.
“I was at home in there. If you don’t think I’m world-class, that’s fine,” Chandler said at the UFC 262 post-fight press conference. “Do your thing. I think the people that understand the sport, the people who’ve seen my résumé, the people who’ve seen my body of work, who’ve seen what I’ve done in this sport, the things that I’ve come through, just like every man has in this sport, then you know I’m world-class, and you know I can hang with these guys.
“Zigged when I should have zagged and ended up with Charles Oliveira getting the belt around his waist. So to those people, I say thank you because I’m gonna work harder.”
Despite the loss, Chandler performed very well in the first round, even scoring a 10-8 over Oliveira on two judges’ scorecards. As for his status as an elite fighter, he does hold wins over names like Benson Henderson (twice), Eddie Alvarez, Brent Primus, and Dan Hooker to help his argument in that debate.
Still, even former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov questioned if Chandler is truly elite prior to his entry into the UFC, particularly after getting knocked out by the aforementioned Pitbull Freire not long ago. After watching “Iron Mike” get knocked out in the biggest fight of his career at UFC 262, it’s certainly possible that Khabib as well as other people who have doubted Chandler feel a sense of vindication for this opinion.
If Chandler is to prove these people wrong after putting in the appropriate hard work, that will no doubt make the reward of becoming UFC champion all the sweeter should he be able to achieve this difficult goal.
Do you consider Michael Chandler to be an elite UFC fighter after UFC 262?