Chandler will be hoping to snap a two-fight losing streak when he meets Ferguson on May 7 in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite his recent slump in form, the former Bellator lightweight champ still looks a formidable prospect and has proved a draw with fans thanks to his all-out fighting style and explosive power, which was most emphatically showcased in his UFC 268 barnburner with Justin Gaethje.
Ferguson, on the other hand, has in recent fights looked like a shadow of his former self. And now at 38-years-old, many consider him past his prime.
“El Cucuy” has lost his last three fights in convincing fashion—a skid that started with a one-sided beatdown from Gaethje and continued with unanimous decision losses to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush.
Chandler Says Ferguson Has Been Unfairly Dismissed As Past His Prime
Once considered the boogeyman of the lightweight division, Ferguson now seems like he’s on an accelerated path to retirement. But Chandler believes it’s too early to count the former interim champ out, and that considering his recent fights have been against the world’s best, he’s been unfairly judged as past his prime.
“I would say his track record thus far would indicate that maybe he has lost a step, but you can’t just look at records and say he’s lost his last three fights,” Chandler told MMA Fighting. “Those guys you mentioned, Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush, these are the top guys in the world.
“When we’re fighting up at the top of the division doing this round-robin against the best guys on the planet at 155 pounds, you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some, and every now and again, you’re going to lose a couple in a row just like I have.”
Chandler says that those same claims of athletic decline so freely leveled at Ferguson could be made of himself too, given he’s lost his last two fights. The 35-year-old believes that the margins between victory and defeat at the top of the lightweight division are so close, that anyone—even Ferguson—could become champ.
“Have I lost a step because I lost two in a row?” continued Chandler. “Dropped one to Charles Oliveira and then one to Justin Gaethje? I don’t know, it remains to be seen but I will say this, we’re fighting the best guys in the world. I think any of us inside that top five, top seven could fight anyone else on any given night and become the world champion. That’s how close a lot of these guys are.”
What do you think? Is Michael Chandler right about Tony Ferguson?