Michael Chandler may have respect for Islam Makhachev, but he believes something was fishy with the Russian’s jump in rankings.
After a long tenure in Bellator that saw him being their biggest homegrown star, Chandler made the move to the UFC where he beat Dan Hooker by first-round knockout in his debut. Hooker will now be taking on Makhachev at UFC 267, just one month after going to a decision with Nasrat Haqparast.
Given his relationship with Hooker, it makes sense that Chandler was asked about this fight and Makhachev as a whole while speaking in an interview with The Schmo. Here, the top-ranked lightweight said that there is a good chance the Khabib protege will be the future of the division, although he thinks it is questionable that Makhachev was able to jump in the top 5 of the division without beating anyone within the top ten.
“I think Makachev fought #14. He was #9. He fought #14, beat #14, and somehow ended up with #5 without having to fight anybody in that upper echelon in the top 10. But Makachev is definitely a future of the lightweight division. He is good, he is skilled, he does have the entire country on his back, so he’s fighting for more than just himself,“ Chandler said.
Michael Chandler was not the only one confused by this when the rankings update came out and showed that Islam Makhachev was in the top five after beating Thiago Moisés. That said, when thinking about it a little more, it makes it easy to realize that this may have been a combination of his winning streak, his relationship with UFC superstar Khabib, and how hard it was to find him a fight while being ranked so low.
Either way, Islam Makhachev will have the chance to prove he is deserving of his place in the rankings when he takes on Dan Hooker at UFC 267. This will easily be the biggest test of his young career.