Chandler recently joined The Fighter vs. The Writer show to discuss his personal fighter of the year. He gave the award to UFC Lightweight Champion Oliveira, claiming his two high-profile wins in the division in 2021.
Chandler sees those victories as what puts him ahead of the pack for this year.
Oliveira became a UFC champion in May, stopping Chandler in the second round to claim a vacant belt. He returned seven months later to beat Dustin Poirier, stopping him in the second round with a rear-naked choke.
“Watching what Charles Oliveira has done this year, claiming gold and then defending it against one of the best to ever do it, one of the greatest lightweights of all time [who] will inevitably be a UFC Hall of Famer, Dustin Poirier. So hat’s off to him, he would be my pick for fighter of the year,” said Chandler.
Chandler: Oliveira Takes Award Over Welterweight Champ Usman
When asked about runners-up for this year’s fighter of the year award, Chandler compared Oliveira to dominant UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. While Usman had a highly successful year with three wins, Chandler thought the “unexpected” factor of Oliveira’s success is what earned him the award in the end.
“Unfortunately, it’s almost as if we expected Kamaru [Usman] to be that dominant … When it comes to exceeding expectations and that feeling you get when you say ‘man what that guy did, that makes him fighter of the year,’ that for me is Charles Oliveira because I feel it was unexpected,” said Chandler. “Would we ever have thought Charles Oliveira would be the champion a year [or] a year-and-a-half ago?”
Who is your 2021 Fighter of the Year? Do you agree with what Michael Chandler said?