UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler has responded to Islam Makhachev after the Dagestani called him out at UFC Vegas 31.
Chandler’s comments came after Makhachev addressed a plethora of 155-pound names following his comfortable main event win against Thiago Moisés this past weekend.
With Khabib Nurmagomedov shouting instructions from his corner, Makhachev controlled the 26-year-old for the majority of the fight. A fourth-round rear-naked submission saw the Russian record his first UFC headlining victory and, in doing so, become the first man to submit Moisés in MMA.
Speaking backstage after his main event victory over the Brazilian, Makhachev spoke about Michael Chandler and suggested he wants to “check” the former Bellator champ’s skills.
“I see here Michael Chandler, why not? Let’s go Chandler. You come for easy fight in the UFC? No, you come from Bellator, we want to give you a hard time. Let’s do this. Chandler, if you hear me, let’s do this. You come from Bellator, I want to check your skills.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
Handily, one man on the receiving end of the Dagestani’s callouts was in attendance at this past weekend’s event. Working as an analyst at UFC Vegas 31, Chandler was immediately on hand to give his reaction to Makhachev’s win and post-fight words.
Speaking during Saturday’s post-fight show, Chandler gave the Russian credit for the callout but didn’t give a direct answer.
“Slick little call out right there… He did what he said he was going to do tonight and he did what he needed to do tonight, which was go out there and put a big stamp on his performance. Now he’s doing what he needs to do as well. He’s sitting at No. 9, he wants to say as many names as he possibly can. Slick little call out.”
The former UFC lightweight title challenger didn’t rule out a clash with Makhachev further down the line.
“The man impressed tonight. I’ve got to take my fighter hat off, be the analyst tonight, he did a phenomenal job against a very tough man. Kid’s got a bright future, we’ll see what happens.”
Chandler added that, while he believes wrestling is superior to sambo and all other forms of ground martial arts, he acknowledges Makhachev’s ability to prevent talented grapplers from using their skills.
“I’m a homer when it comes to wrestling. I think wrestling beats everything. I think wrestling beats judo, [Brazilian jiu-jitsu], I think it beats sambo but that’s just me being a homer. But what Islam Makhachev does is he gets you to these positions and he puts you in a position where you can’t really move. Thiago Moises has phenomenal chain grappling. We’ve seen him go all over the place, up, down, do flips, roll, sweep. He wasn’t able to do a lot of those things. The thing that Islam does best is he neutralizes guys. When you neutralize a guy, it’s not just physical. It’s mental. It’s emotional. It’s cardio. He sucks the life out of guys.”
Chandler went on to tease a potential test of his theory through a battle between wrestling and sambo with Makhachev in the future.
“Can he push the pace for that long? He showed tonight he can get a finish later in the rounds. I think wrestling beats sambo. I think wrestling beats every other ground martial art. Maybe someday we’ll see.”
While Makhachev continues his ascent up the 155-pound ladder, Chandler will be looking to rebound when he next enters the Octagon following his defeat to Charles Oliveira at UFC 262. After a dominant debut display against Dan Hooker in January, the 35-year-old fought ‘Do Bronx’ in May for the vacant lightweight title. Despite looking close to a finish in the opening round, Chandler fell to his first UFC loss in the second round.
While many have suggested a matchup with Justin Gaethje, Chandler may well be tempted to enter the cage with the Dagestani, given his hype and rapid rise.
How do you think Islam Makhachev would fare against Michael Chandler?