Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Michael Chandler: My Career Will Feel “Incomplete” Without UFC Title

UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler has admitted that with his current mindset, his career would feel “incomplete” without winning a UFC championship.

Chandler held plenty of gold prior to joining the UFC. Under the promotional banner of Bellator MMA, he held the lightweight title three times. But in 2020, “Iron” made the move to the world’s premier MMA promotion with the hope of cementing his legacy as one of all the all-time greats.

Despite boasting a negative 1-2 record in the promotion, Chandler has certainly achieved that goal, and more.

Michael Chandler Punches Dan Hooker
Credit: Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC

In January 2021, Chandler announced himself in style by making one of the most emphatic and memorable debuts in UFC history. On Fight Island, he finished the tough and durable Dan Hooker inside the very first round.

Fast forward four months to May and Chandler was already fighting for UFC gold. After the great Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, veteran Charles Oliveira challenged for the title against the relative newcomer.

After five minutes of action in the UFC 262 main event, Chandler had already come inches away from capturing the 155-pound belt and it appeared only a matter of time until he finished “Do Bronx.” Instead, the Brazilian mounted a remarkable comeback and shattered Chandler’s title hopes with a second-round TKO.

Chandler Hopes To Learn To Accept Possible Champion-less UFC Career

Despite falling to another setback in November against Justin Gaethje, Chandler’s part in the consensus fight of the year ensured his stock didn’t fall in defeat. But with losses to the reigning champion and current number one contender, the question has to be posed, can “Iron” return to the top and win UFC gold?

If you ask Chandler, the answer is yes, and perhaps by 2023. With his sights set on opponents like Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, and Dustin Poirier, it’s certainly not out of the question. But despite his confidence and self-belief, Chandler acknowledges he will have to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani earlier this year, Chandler was asked whether he’d struggle to come to terms with falling short of the UFC mountaintop during his time on MMA’s biggest stage.

Despite admitting his career would feel “incomplete” with his current mindset, the 35-year-old is hoping to come to terms with it before it’s time to hang up his gloves, just in case he does leave the promotion having not joined the champions’ club.

“I think, right now, right now I say yes (it will eat me up inside if I don’t become champion),” said Chandler. “But my goal and hope is that I continue moving forward and continue to build myself up, build my self-worth up enough to where when I lay those gloves down in that UFC Octagon, having not won the UFC title, if that’s the case, that I will, at that moment, be accepting of it. Because I know I’ve done everything I possibly could.

“Listen, if I was not destined to be the UFC champion, it wasn’t because I didn’t try my hardest, it wasn’t because I wasn’t absolutely disciplined in everything that I did, and it wasn’t because I made the requisite sacrifices to become the UFC champion, it just wasn’t on the cards,” added Chandler. “But right now, I say yes, it would feel incomplete, but my goal is that future Michael who does lay his gloves down for the last time and decides to retire, I’ll realize that that chapter is over; the sun will rise on the next day, and we’ll move on.”

Given the war he was in with “The Highlight” at UFC 268, it’s understandable that Chandler is enjoying his time away from the cage and looking to be smart with his comeback timeline.

With a return lined up for this weekend’s UFC 274 in a big fight against Tony Ferguson, “Iron” will hope to re-rail his journey to championship triumph in his first outing of 2022.

Do you think Michael Chandler will become a UFC champion before he retires?

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